According to Steve Jobs, 2 Ways to Be More Creative

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Eating seaweed for breakfast didn’t seem that unreasonable.

The plant is a good source of iodine, something my body had apparently been lacking. At 6:01 A.M. Kroger opened and made what I assume was its first transaction of the day — a package of former aquatic life to a scrawny, bearded male.

Unable to wait any longer, I ripped the package open in the front seat of my car, and shoved the green stuff between my teeth.

The taste is strong, in case you were wondering. Each piece is thin, but not exactly crunchy. Essentially, the experience is maneuvering pieces of sardine-flavored tissue paper around your mouth until it dissolves.

Yummmm. Iodine.

To be honest, it didn’t feel like that big a deal. When you’ve ever wondered if you’d be able to keep your stomach at all, you’ll eat just about anything which might make you feel better. Actually, the whole incident was mostly drama free.

Well, until I went to kiss Kate good morning.

Which version am I supposed to believe in, Steve? Or should I call you Mr. Jobs?

This version?

“Take the worst Steve Jobs movie and multiply that by 10x and you are halfway to what a miserable human being Jobs was”

-Gordon Miller (venture capitalist who was involved in a lawsuit w Apple)

Or this one?

“He was right in the middle of [product design]. He quietly left his CEO hat at the door and collaborated with us”

- Glenn Reid (employed at Adobe, NeXT, and Apple)

Neither? Both? Could it be, perhaps, that humans are bigger than “jerk” or “genius” or “visionary” or “shy?” Could it be that we are all infinitely complex, with thousands of versions of ourselves fighting for control?

Sometimes I wonder.

In any case, Jobs undeniably changed the world through execution of an idea. After spending much of his life around creative people, he said they have these things in common.

1. Creative people have many new experiences

This, I think, is the most played out portrayal of the artist — the madman, the traveler, the poet, the volcano.

Alternatively: The one who eats seaweed for breakfast because it will make for a good story.

Michael Frederick is a motion designer. He has worked for clients like

  • HBO
  • The Discovery Channel
  • Microsoft*
  • National Geographic
  • Dunkin Donuts

*Am I allowed to put that word in an article mentioning Steve Jobs?*

Still — At the beginning of every single project, guess what Michael does before beginning any work?

He opens up Pinterest and looks at stuff.

Michael is an incredible designer with decades of work under his belt. He’s spent more hours in Photoshop than most will ever spend on anything. But he still gathers as much inspiration as he can from new artists. He has new experiences. He travels the world. He makes good use of his camera. He soaks in as much new as possible.

The question is not “how can I give a client a version of something I’ve done well?”

It is “what can I experience which will help me stretch my own limits?”

Your output is only as good as your input. The correct input for human life is oxygen. Any other input produces a dead human.

2. Creative people think about their experiences more

Which is excellent news for us introverts because I hate doing new things.

I am a machine of routine. The day goes like this — there is waking and writing and reading and a dog and coffee and work and food then probably more writing or reading and then bed. Peppered in between those gaps are a redhead who mostly enjoys my company except when I wake her up with fish breath.

Interruptions terrify me. When someone asks me to change my plans in less than 24 hours, I get anxious. I say no to everything possible.

Instead, I think about the letters my dad wrote me in 1st grade. I relive the moments a client has been furious with my work. I soak in every drop of agony and anguish, of virtue and victory.

Then, my brain (bless it) attempts to spin together meaning from a bunch of meaningless events. It tries to connect the dots.

Within those invisible connections, magic happens.

What to do with your extra creativity?

There are a lot of answers to this question.

One option (my option) is turning it inward to make even more ideas — an endless funnel of creative output.

I finally captured my process in a free book — The Ultimate Guide to Infinite Ideas — which you can get for an email address.

Get your copy now

Written by

An optimist who writes.

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