This blog post is a mistake
I believe one of the greatest qualities a creative person can have is fearlessness. With that comes the ability to embrace the fact that you are going to make mistakes. In an industry that relies on the steady flow of ideas, it’s important to not be afraid to make a mistake.
Take the latest target of criticism, Christina Aguilera, and her performance of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl this past Sunday. Her muffing of the lyrics about a third of the way in is well documented. But her performance is a great example of how I approach the exercise of coming up with ideas.
- You’ve got to go for it, even if a billion people are watching. When someone asks you to come up with ideas, you have to give it your all, and fear not. You must forget about your CD and the client and the AEs and all the people around you and what they’re going to say. If someone asks you to sing the Anthem in front of hundreds of millions of people, and you call yourself a pro, how can you not do it?
- If you make a mistake, or say something dumb, recover like a pro. In the ideation process we all blurt out dumb things, much like Christina blew the lyrics. But her ability to recover and keep going was impressive. When we’re throwing ideas around, even when you say something dumb, keep going. Don’t stop.
- Finish well and the criticism will be hushed. Don’t let the mistake bog you down. It happens to everyone. Take a bad idea and turn it into a good one. Creative people are generally very critical of themselves, myself included. And while we may beat ourselves up, you have to keep singing. Finishing well will help you face the critics who think your idea may not be the best. If your work is thought out and makes sense, you will win.
- Make it your own. The National Anthem isn’t a new song. And most ideas for advertising aren’t exactly new either. One writer and ex-Leo Burnett creative contended that there are only 12 types of ads. While I don’t think the Anthem needs the embellishment Aguilera put on it, it is important to make it your own and put your own spin on an idea. Freshen up the formula if you will.
It must have been a crappy feeling to flub the Anthem in front of millions of people. But like coming up with good ideas, it’s a pretty darn hard song to sing.