Creative LeadershipCreativity

The Power of Unique, Original Thinking

Quite a number of people who read my blog on a regular basis are writers, pastors, filmmakers, or other types of artist.  (Sidebar:  Years ago at the Biola Media Conference, I interviewed Sean Astin – the brilliant actor who played Samwise Gamgee in “The Lord of the Rings” and was the star of “Rudy.”  Sean mentioned that he hated the term “content creators,” and once I thought about it, I agree with him.  He suggested we use “artists” instead, and I’m all for it.)   Anyway – if you’re a writer, designer, artist, or creator of any kind, I can’t stress enough the importance of unique, original thinking.  For instance, there are literally thousands of books written by pastors today – but how many actually sell outside your own church?  Better yet – how many actually make the best seller lists?  Not many.

In the same vein, there are millions of screenplays, business books, novels, and more that are churned out every day.  I spoke to a national publishers conference recently, and one of the participants mentioned that 2 million books will be printed this year alone.  While virtually all can find an online outlet, only a small fraction will show up at Barnes & Noble, and even fewer will actually find readers.

The truth is, if you want to get noticed, you can’t re-cycle old ideas.  You’ve got to start thinking original thoughts.  Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be a heretic, or go way outside the bounds to be different.  I heard a pastor the other night on a TV program talking about “atmosphere.”  Apparently he’d had a “revelation” that God wouldn’t work unless the atmosphere was right, and he went into a long diatribe about how to make the right atmosphere happen.  His Christian TV network host seemed enthralled, but the truth is, it was simply bunk.  It was a desperate attempt to get people’s attention by desperate means.

What I’m talking about is a unique approach, an original perspective, a new thought. Study great writers and great books. They’re not half-baked ideas or concepts everyone has already heard about.  They’re not re-edited or copied ideas from other writers or speakers.  And they may not even be original, but at least it’s a new way of looking at the issue.

Does your writing reflect that?  Is it a truly original idea?  Is it something nobody else has thought of before?   To jump-start your writing or speaking career, here’s what I recommend:

1.  Read my book “Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media.”  Think hard about your unique story and the message that you and you alone were created to bring into the world.  What message were you born to communicate to the world?

2.  Then read everything you can on that subject.  Get completely familiar with everything others have written, so you’ll know when you’re just re-stating what others have already written.  Otherwise, you’ll never recognize an original idea.

3.  Then stop writing.  Don’t write a word until you’ve developed your unique, original approach to the issue.  Don’t get weird, just get innovative.

Don’t give people what they expect.  Give them what they never dreamed possible.

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  1. Thanks for this perspective, and I agree completely. I am actually reading Jolt!, It is the first work of yours I am reading and I am enjoying every page. Thanks for that. Keep pouring out your heart, it is making a difference. Blessings.

  2. I don’t quite remember how I got here but it was long ago. I’m no artist, I’m a Computer Engineer/ Software Developer… a geek! But I find myself reading and following creative people like you more often than I tought. I think “creative thinking/original ideas” applies to any discipline and to people who strive towards success and have a passion for what they do.

  3. One of things I’m working on is just WRITING. Don’t worry about the permanence of it. Don’t worry about the people that will think its stupid. Just write what you want to write. People will appreciate it.

  4. Great post Phil.  Caused me to ask myself if I am simply an echo of an echo of an echo….(and so on).

    Abraham Lincoln stated – “Man thirsts and burns for distinction” yet we fear distinction and opt instead for sameness 

  5. Thanks Phil. I’ve read and re-read. heard and re-heard this unique and orig thinking spiel over and over  before. But it’s a good reminder to us all who needs reminding.  

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