Can You Be Too Creative For Your Own Good?

I’m a big advocate for creativity and creative people. In fact, I’ve written a book 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, it will fail if it can’t be delivered on time. Plus, no matter how creative the idea, it will never be completed if you can’t get along with other team members.

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

I recently spoke to a literary agent 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. Despite 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 with one of the country’s most creative television teams. They really did fantastic 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 ready to consider fundraising, promotional, or other response techniques. As a result, the otherwise unique program never gained support. Because the video team wanted to have fun and be wildly creative, the program eventually crashed and today 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.

Be wildly creative. But unless your work impacts an audience, you’ll fail.

Simple as that.

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  1. 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!

    1. 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:

  2. 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.

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