Last week, my daughter went to Camp Invention. It’s a great program put on by the National Inventors Hall of Fame that gives kids an opportunity to develop their creativity as they try their hand at prototyping their own inventions.

On one of the days, the kids were supposed to wear a crazy hat.  My daughter worked hard on designing her own hat and she was really excited about what she had created…until the next day.  When we got to the camp, I could see she was hesitant to wear her hat.

At the check in, the teacher wanted to see it, but she didn’t want to put it on. I watched her as she scanned the room, looking at kids that had just put on winter hats, baseball caps and the like.  Only a handful of kids had taken the time to create something original.

Mya’s Crazy Hat

risks of creativity

It will even wave at you!

I knew she was feeling anxious and vulnerable about what she had created.  What would people think?  What would they say?  Would they think she was weird because her hat was unusual?

Throughout the day, I was thinking of her, wondering how she was handling things.  Did she have the courage to put on her crazy hat or would she just blend into the norm?

I want my daughter to wear her crazy hat.  I want her to be bold and not fear the risks of creativity.  The world she will inherit needs her to.

But I totally understand why she was afraid.  It mirrors my own reality.

It’s one thing to dream, or even put your ideas on a piece of paper.  It’s another thing to put them out there and take the risk of falling on your face.  Deciding to not fit in with a world that runs on majority rule is incredibly intimidating.

Will You Wear Your Crazy Hat?

I think this is one of the biggest challenges that creative leaders face.  Are you willing to wear your crazy hat?  Can you deal with the fear that people will think what you are doing is crazy?

It’s so much easier to play it safe, isn’t it? Blend in, keep your head down, do your job, don’t make waves. That’s definitely safer.  But safety always carries the cost of lost opportunity.

It’s amazing how quickly fear and intimidation kick in with “what ifs.”

What if…

  • I lose my credibility?
  • People laugh at me?
  • They misunderstand my intentions?

When you begin to create, there is an emotional nakedness that’s incredibly uncomfortable. Your ideas are flawed. They expose you.  But you have to remember that those flaws and imperfections are part of the DNA of the idea.  They make it yours.

There will always be critics that point out the flaws…people who can’t see what you see or are uncomfortable with things they don’t understand.

It’s important to remember, every great idea was crazy…until it wasn’t.

 The World Needs A Little Crazy

Here’s the thing…the world could use a little crazy.  We need some disruptors that look at what is and see a better way.

It takes guts to stand out and do the things that no one else is doing, to flip conventional approaches to problems and try new things.  It’s risky to create something unique, rather than blending into the crowd.  That’s why most people take the easy road.

  • It’s crazy to quit your job and launch a startup business.
  • It’s crazy to challenge broken systems that seem too big to change.
  • It’s crazy to think that your take on a situation could create a better life for someone else.

What crazy thing is God asking you to do?

I know what He’s asking me to do, and honestly it scares me a bit.  I may mess up, and if I do, it’s all on me.  I know that I will face criticism and who likes that?  But I also know that the real failure would be to ignore His voice and play it safe.

Some Final Thoughts On The Risks of Creativity:

  • Failure is not an indictment of who you are; it’s an opportunity.  It helps refine your focus to create better solutions.
  • There will always be people who laugh at or criticize what you do.  Remember, that’s not a reflection on you, it’s a reflection of their small thinking.
  •  Be original.  Trust your gut.  If someone says no, don’t give up.
  •  Don’t wait for the perfect moment.  If you wait till your hat doesn’t seem crazy, you missed your moment.

My friend, wear your crazy hat with pride. The world needs the ideas that you have been pondering. They just don’t know it yet.

But someday soon…they will.

For now, I leave you with this iconic Apple commercial:

By the way, for those who are curious, she wore her hat!  That’s my girl!