Can You Be Too Creative For Your Own Good?

I’m a big advocate for creativity and creative people. In fact, I’ve written an ebook on the subject, and I’ve taught it to teams around the world. But occasionally, I find creative people who use their creativity like a weapon to undermine projects, become control freaks, or play to their laziness. Here’s what I mean:

It happens when creative people think creativity is the only issue. But no matter how creative a product, idea, or project is, if it can’t be delivered on time, it will fail. Plus, no matter how creative the idea, if you can’t get along with other members of your team, it will never be completed.

Creativity is incredibly important, but if it doesn’t have a strategy to be used correctly, it will never reach the right audience and make an impact.

I spoke to a book agent recently who told me about a writer he represented. The writer was a bestselling, incredibly talented author. But because he treated his editors with contempt and his publishers with scorn, nobody wanted to work with him. In spite of his gigantic sales, he’d been through nine publishers, and his current project will probably never be read.

A few years ago, I worked with a very contemporary church who had one of the most creative television teams in the country. They really did amazing work on a weekly TV program produced by the church. The problem? They weren’t willing to adapt their creativity so the programming would get a better response. They weren’t willing to consider fundraising, promotional, or other response techniques. As a result, the program, which was otherwise amazing, never gained support. Because the video team wanted to have fun and be wildly creative, the program eventually crashed and today just limps along in a few markets.

The bottom line is – creativity is a powerful God-given gift – but it’s also an amazing tool. That’s why the best creative writers, directors, and producers know how to embrace techniques that create powerful advertising, massive film releases, and win international awards.

Simple as that.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Richard

    Phil, great points here. I’ve seen it happen before too. This post brought up a question. In the post you talk of the church that had or still has the television program that was good but never moved forward. My question, In your view who are the top two or three (Churches or para church ministries) that are doing a great job with television today? A sub question, what makes them so good?
    Thanks so much!

    • For innovation and creativity, Hillsong would probably lead the pack because they’re doing things on so many media platforms (including outdoor advertising in Times Square in NYC). Joyce Meyer is doing some innovative media outreaches as well – including capturing some fantastic testimonies on video. Jack Graham at Prestonwood Church in Dallas is expanding his reach internationally and getting a great response. Elevation in Charlotte is doing some very interesting things. Life.Church in OKC is the clear leader in the digital arena. The Salvation Army is fine tuning their “digital street corner” and you’ll see a re-launch there soon. We’re working with 3 or 4 major churches right now and laying the groundwork for some interesting media approaches within the next year. The bottom line is that a new generation of pastors and leaders really have a vision for speaking the language of the culture through media and it could not be a better time.
      Thanks for asking Richard!
      Also – here’s some other posts on the subject that might help:
      http://www.philcooke.com/christian-media-whos-doing-it-right/
      http://www.philcooke.com/christian-media-whos-right/

  • leilanihaywood

    Love the articles in this ezine about creativity. I’ve had soooo many aspiring writers, poets, authors send me their manuscripts or articles. They want advice on how to make a living from their writing/poetry/books. They think I’m harsh when I ask them who will pay for it? They want to be wildly creative without the discipline of adapting their gift to the needs of the market. I’ve managed to make a living by writing about stuff other people may consider boring such as taxes and insurance or technology. I’ve had adapt the gift God has given me to the needs of my clients so I can feed my kids lol. Their is a demand for creativity but like you said, if you’re not willing to hit deadlines, be easy to work with and adapt your gift to serve people, then you might as well stay at your boring day job.

    • Very well said. Thanks for sharing that perspective!

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