You know how they say give a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teach him how to fish and you feed him for life. And you always think to yourself, “Yes, those poor dumb natives, deprived by their own ignorance.” You never take that little gem personally. Though you should, especially if you’re the type of person that is always searching for “the way” from other people. 

If I give you the formula for something today, you’ll need the formula for everything else tomorrow. You’re creatively impoverished. But that’s not the worst. Wait till the end of this piece and I’ll give you the really bad news. 

Operating by formulas in life is officially LOW-LEVEL CREATIVE. Academic levels of creativity start at the bottom with Imitation and ascend through Derivative up to Inventive and Genius. It’s quite observable that the higher your level of creativity, the greater the reward in terms of personal expression and financial remuneration. It also should be evident that formulas are on the level of Imitation, the lowest rung of creativity. 

Formulas are bullshit. For many reasons. One reason being that they are the sum of someone else’s past experience, and the past is made less and less relevant by the future. Formulas are never constant – but change is. 

Another reason is you can’t ever fit a square peg in a round hole. You are a unique individual, tailor made for life, and you will never be best suited for a uniformed way of being or doing. 

Formulas are limited. They’ll saddle you with stuck concepts, while HIGH LEVEL CREATIVES will always fly circles around you. Just think of the evolution of painting. At one time the idea of great art was making an exact facsimile of what you were painting, getting it as close to photographic realness as possible. Then along came the Impressionists who eschewed that life likeness, and painted instead their impressions of the qualities in whatever they beheld. And Impressionism was followed by Abstract Art, Cubism, Surrealism. That ideal of literal perfection was tossed by the wayside like the rotting head of the fish the island native ate last week. 

The most valuable art works today are by the Impressionists. Hell, a Cubist rendering of a black square painted a century ago sold for US$17 million decades ago. Artists are always breaking out of whatever rules take hold, and the more they disrupt the old order, the more they express what resonates in humanity, the higher their value soars. 

If you’re learning about Social Media, the experts tell you that people won’t watch a video that’s longer than 4 or 5 minutes. Gary Vaynerchuck says that’s crap. Apparently, he makes 30 minute videos that are hugely popular. Google and Yahoo have flown him to their head offices to try and work out how come. Gary reckons people will watch anything for any length of time if it’s great. Anyone can make 4 or 5 minute videos. Only HIGH-LEVEL CREATIVES can make brilliant videos. 

The worst, most damning thing about looking for “the way” from others is that you’re telling yourself that it’s not in you, that the genius you borrow from others does not exist in you. You create whatever you tell yourself. As long as you tell yourself that it’s not in you, you’re never going to have an experience of your own genius. Life will be a struggle. No matter what you achieve, it will not come with inspiration and ease and joy….or brilliant effectiveness. 

Don’t take my word for it. Social scientists and neurophysicists have a name for all of this: The Matthew Effect. They borrowed the term from the Bible, where it says: “to those that have, more shall be given; and to those who have not, even the little they have shall be taken away from them.” Malcolm Gladwell refers to this principle a lot in his books. 

When you cling to formulas your Genius will never occur to you, because you have subconsciously defined yourself as a “have not”. But the day you let go of formulas and start making it up for yourself, you’ll reconnect with your Genius. And, as a result, you’ll be inherently viable for the rest of your life. 


William Whitecloud

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