pillar management

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More thoughts on “How To Be Creative”:

10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece on the back of a deli menu would not surprise me. Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece with a silver Cartier fountain pen on an antique writing table in an airy SoHo loft would SERIOUSLY surprise me.

Abraham Lincoln wrote The Gettysberg Address on the back of his paper lunch bag, sitting on a park bench.
James Joyce wrote with a simple pencil and notebook. Somebody else did the typing.
Van Gough never started a painting with more than six colors on his palette.
I draw on the back of wee biz cards. Whatever.
There’s no correlation between creativity and equipment ownership. None. Zilch. Nada.
Actually, as the artist gets more into his thing, and as he gets more successful, his number of tools tends to go down. He knows what works for him. Expending mental energy on stuff wastes time. He’s a man on a mission. He’s got a deadline. He’s got some rich client breathing down his neck. The last thing he wants is to spend 3 weeks learning how to use a router drill if he doesn’t need to.
A fancy tool just gives the second-rater one more pillar to hide behind.
Which is why there are so many second-rate art directors with state-of-the-art Macinotsh computers.
Which is why there are so many hack writers with state-of-the-art laptops.
Which is why there are so many crappy photographers with state-of-the-art digital cameras.
Which is why there are so many unremarkable painters with expensive studios in trendy neighborhoods.
Hiding behind pillars, all of them.
Pillars do not help; they hinder. The more mighty the pillar, the more you end up relying on it psychologically, the more it gets in your way.
And this applies to business, as well.
Which is why there are so many failing businesses with fancy offices.
Which is why there’s so many failing businessmen spending a fortune on fancy suits and expensive yacht club memberships.
Again, hiding behind pillars.
Successful people, artists and non-artists alike, are very good at spotting pillars. They’re very good at doing without them. Even more importantly, once they’ve spotted a pillar, they’re very good at quickly getting rid of it.
Good pillar management is one of the most valuable talents you can have on the planet. If you have it, I envy you. If you don’t, I pity you.
But nobody’s perfect. We all have our pillars. We seem to need them. You are never going to live a pillar-free existence. Neither am I.
All we can do is keep asking the question, “Is this a pillar” about every aspect of our business, our craft, our reason for being alive etc and go from there. The more we ask, the better we get at spotting pillars, the more quickly the pillars vanish.
Ask. Keep asking. And then ask again. Stop asking and you’re dead.

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  • Seth Godin
  • The New Republic
  • Len Schlesinger
  • Tony Hsieh
  • Brian Clark
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