How I Quit Worrying And Started Creating


For most of my life I struggled to create anything because I was always waiting for the conditions to be right. I was waiting for inspiration to strike, for the coffee to be brewed perfectly, for all my ideas to be worked out in my head, before I ever started. I felt this overwhelming sense that anything I created would never be as good as someone else’s. I was gripped with fear and self doubt and I was way too caught up in my head.

The problem was that I didn’t understand how creativity works. Instead of waiting for creativity and inspiration to strike I needed to learn to find a way to master the muse.


1) Narrow Your Options

Whether its time, materials or methods, finding a way to cut out all the possible options is key. One of the most successful musical albums I’ve ever created was produced in a week. Instead of endlessly wrestling with all the crazy ideas I had swimming around in my head for years I decided to simply record a solo piano album. I wrote, performed, mixed, and mastered the whole thing in seven days and people love it. By putting restrictions on myself it forced me to say no to a lot of decisions that could have normally caused me anxiety and wasted my time.

2) Make A Game Of It

Often times, creating our own deadlines or having someone who pushes us as a creative partner can help keep the juices flowing. Games are fun. When you’re playing a game the adrenaline kicks in and you get your mind off of being self conscious and all you care about is the game and winning.  The reason so many successful business people call what they do a ‘game’ is because it dehumanizes it and allows them to make choices based on winning and not on how it affects the people around them.  I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, but what I’m saying is that if you’re having trouble being creative, tricking your brain into thinking what you’re doing is simply a game will help you have way less anxiety about getting things ‘right or wrong’.  It’s just a game, so let’s relax and have fun and watch the ideas start to flow.

3) Under Think It

You’ve heard it said, “don’t over think it”. Well, what does that mean? Over thinking is the curse we face where we take some information we’ve received and we start running down every potential scenario about what could go wrong. This is usually only a good idea for engineers at NASA and other dangerous professions where people’s lives are at stake. When it comes to brainstorming or trying to be creative don’t over think your options. Its easy to get analysis paralysis. Where you overanalyze so much you can’t actually make a decision. Instead, under think it. Stop considering that every idea is so valuable it has to be looked at through a microscope.

We often believe that creativity is this thing that comes out of nowhere that the gods impart to us. That in the midst of our boring uneventful day any moment some brilliant idea will come upon us and then that’s when we put in the work.

The truth is, creativity IS work. To create means to MAKE something. Creativity isn’t some abstract thing but its the process of making something. A creator is someone who brings things to life. Whether it be an idea, a project, a person, or a universe.

Too often, people will believe they aren’t creative. As though creativity is about having an original idea and everything they think of isn’t very ‘creative’.

Creativity is a byproduct of ‘the process’. 

We tend to think creativity is some abstract thing but its no different than work. The more you do the easier it gets and the more ideas flow.


If you ever went to Sunday School as a kid you’ll remember the Bible talking about how God created the world in six days, and then rested from his work. It wasn’t that He ran out of ideas but that the creative act needed a break.
If we could show up everyday and put the work in ideas would show up. The reason you don’t have any ideas is because you’re probably over thinking things and not being active to discipline yourself everyday to put in the work. As John Maxwell says, you “have uphill hopes and downhill habits”.

If you wait to get inspired to work out you’ll never get in shape physically. But work out daily, whether you feel like it or not, and when those moments come when you’re excited about exercise you’ll be in shape and enjoy it even more.

If you’re a writer. Write. Anything. It doesn’t matter. Some guys will write about their morning bowel movement just to put thoughts on paper. If you’re a painter. Then paint. Paint the sky. Paint a flower. Don’t wait to be inspired. Most of what you make won’t be great. So what? If you don’t consider yourself a writer or a painter then do those things anyway. Let go. Draw a picture of a tree. Now you’re an artist. Its that easy. Stop worrying about the quality of your work or what people will think. Just make things. Of course it sucks. Its like cooking. The more you do it, the more higher quality meals you eat, the more your taste buds will develop. The more refined your pallet becomes the better chef you’ll be. Art is the same way.  Increase your intake of quality and as you copy it and learn from it you’ll find your own tastes improving as you decide what you like and don’t like.


For those that believe they aren’t creative enough you need to ask yourself if your definition of creativity is wrong. Maybe you’ve been thinking about making a Youtube video or a short film, but you ‘don’t have any ideas’. Perhaps you want to draw something or sew a quilt but you don’t have any ideas.

First of all, you probably lack the skill and craft to truly be original so stop worrying about it. Just copy others. Look at other artists or businesses or ideas out there and see what moves you emotionally. Get inspired that way. Copy everything you can. When you feel you’ve mastered one style of something change it up and explore another. Eventually, your skill and craft, and the time invested, will give you the tools needed to branch out on your own.

You’ll start thinking of a song you’ve been writing in the style of Elton John but you love this Stevie Wonder lick and how Metallica kicks off that anthem you’ve listening to. You’ll start combining and blending things. You’ll eventually find your own voice.
Sitting around and waiting for that epiphany to hit is the surest way to frustration. Your brain isn’t wired that way. It needs references and experiences like a well you draw from, to give you the resources to create.  Fill your well from lots of different sources and you’ll never run out of water.

If creativity is the work, then your life experiences are the tools needed to bring that work to life. As you add to your life experiences and put in the work eventually you’ll start to find your own voice and begin coming up with something original and unique.  Until then, just relax and play and have fun. Some people don’t do that. They are original geniuses who create masterpieces out of thin air. Those people are immortal gods that the rest of us just marvel at. That’s not you and that’s not me. We are mere mortals. Embrace it and go make your art.


For me, the three steps above have been a tremendous help in freeing up my mind to simply embrace the moment and put in the work.  When I realized that creativity was simply the act of making something I no longer worried about the outcome but focused more on the journey.  There is a huge metaphor for life here.  Stop worrying about the goal and simply use it to chart the direction you walk.

The real joy is in the travel not the destination anyway.


The Future of Work Is Laboratory Thinking Not A Factory Mindset

One of my first jobs out of high school was working in an aluminum factory for two weeks as a temp worker. It was a good job but definitely not for me. Now, I’m sure Mike Rowe will want to smack me in the head because there’s nothing wrong with a job like that but my temperament and personality are not well suited for working in a factory. I’m an entrepreneur. I would rather work for myself and go bankrupt than stay in the same place for forty years. Lucky me, I’ve done just that. I’m a go-getter you know.
Factories were the primary way the industrial age built America. They served a purpose. It raised up a generation of workers to perform like robots until the technology could catch up and actually replace people with machines. Those jobs are never coming back. Yes there are lots of jobs that have gone overseas for cheaper labor but just wait until those jobs disappear with affordable robots. No labor law violation. No one will complain about Apple building an iPhone in China when China uses robots and a new iPhone costs $200 instead of $1,000. We love our stuff. No president can bring those jobs back to America. If they show up, robots will replace humans from working there. Necessity is the mother of invention. You don’t have to like it but get over it. There’s nothing you can do to change it.

College is nothing more than a place to brainwash people into becoming good employees. It doesn’t want people who think out of the box. The problem is that the people who will control the future are those who will blow the boxes to pieces.

In a customizable future why would I need to buy a yellow rubber duck from Indonesia, even if its cheap? I can just print one at home for pennies and make it the exact size and color I want.

Why would I need to work for a company as a robot, cranking out spreadsheets or designing products that no one needs? Machines will be able to do that and I’ll be out of a job anyway.

So how will people work in the future?

Its likely that more unemployment and layoffs will continue to happen as markets change and people lose jobs to cheaper production methods.

However, its likely the future will be created (not maintained) by those who work in laboratory settings. I don’t mean a literal laboratory but the laboratory mentality.

What’s the difference between a laboratory and a factory way of thinking? Both are focused on output. Both want results. The difference is that factories are designed to turn employees into robots who simply crank out more product as efficiently as possible. Whereas laboratories are empowered to employ scientists and scientists try new things. They are willing to fail. They customize their resources to produce the results they need.

What is interesting to me is that if you go back to the beginning stages of the Industrial Revolution and look at the geniuses who founded these industries they almost always started in a laboratory. The products and inventions that kicked off great advances in different fields were started by tinkerers who had an idea for a light bulb or telephone or automobile.

The creation of these new industries didn’t come from factories but from laboratories. Factories came about as a way to develop the invention on mass scale but creativity didn’t come from the assembly line. It didn’t come from a 9-5 manager sitting in a corner office. It came from someone who was playing. Who had the freedom to explore and try things.

As artists and makers of things we should be finding ways to bring the laboratory mentality back into our work. This is the future.

Uncertainty. Unpredictability. Home based businesses where people create their own products and services to sell. Working with split schedules or all nighters and then sleeping the next day. Whatever it takes to make great stuff. The exciting thing that Edison, Ford and others never had is the ability to scale their ideas to a global market. They were stuck with the resources and methods of their day. We have the ability to sell to everyone.

Laboratories are messy. Explosions happen. Its a place of experimentation. It isn’t structured and orderly. Its unpredictable and a little crazy. You need to learn to thrive in the unpredictable and crazy. If you can allow life to take on the traits of a laboratory and a place where there are no rules or expectations you’ll be able to invent your own future. You need to have a hypothesis about something (life, career etc) and chase it down and experiment. If what you do doesn’t work it doesn’t mean you’re a failure it means your experiment failed. The conditions or whatever weren’t right. So, regroup and try again.

Those who create the future are those who think and live this way. The factory mindset is for robots who have no idea what life is all about. There will be people who will not be able to drop that way of thinking. They will eventually find themselves unemployed. Don’t fall into that trap thinking and working that way.

Develop a life that runs like a laboratory and watch a new and exciting future emerge where you least expect.