the warfare of creativity (3 ways to identify and become an instigator)

What separates the instigator from 99.9% of society?

It's not being the smartest - plenty of entrepreneurs and artists will freely admit they're not the sharpest tools in the shed.

It's not connections - there are plenty of people with connections that never go on to do anything great.

It's not luck - plenty of people get lucky and throw it all away (stories of lottery winners going bankrupt come to mind).

No, what separates the instigators from the rest is much harder than any of that:

1) Instigators step outside the wire

In a combat zone, the "wire" is a reference to the perimeter of an operating base or outpost.  If you're inside the wire, you're often surrounded by friendly forces, gate guards, walls, and concertina wire.  For survival's sake, inside the wire is the place you want to be.

Instigators, starters, and leaders step outside the wire.

They understand the danger and they accept the risk.  When they step outside the wire, they are stepping into the unknown - there are no guarantees of success and there is a very real possibility of failure.

They are fully exposed.

The instigator understands that if it wasn't risky, there'd be no payoff:

"If everything is known and certain, that means it's all been done before." - Uncertainty

Recognizing the unknown is the instigator's greatest asset.

2) Instigators stay calm in a gunfight.

When you step outside the wire often enough, you will make contact with the enemy.

For the instigator, the enemy takes many forms: critics, naysayers, unhelpful advice from people inside the wire, superficial support from friends and family, and worst of all: your own negative thoughts (self-talk, status-quo propaganda).

Instigators know that when things get gamey, they need to stay calm and collected, and transform their fear into fuel for the fight:

"The ability not only to endure but to invite, amplify, and exalt uncertainty, then reframe it as fuel is paramount to your ability to succeed as a creator.  Visionary innovation and creativity cannot happen when every variable, every outcome, every permutation is known and has been tested and validated in advance.” - Uncertainty

Instigators know that the middle of a battle is not the time to question why they’re doing what they do.  It is at these moments when it is most important to buckle down and do the work.

3) Instigators make choices

Followers respond.

Leaders make choices.

Making a choice is one of the hardest, most uncomfortable and most unnatural things we can do as human beings.  Making a choice – ANY choice – is psychological warfare:

“It’s not because it’s easy, it’s not because it’s trivial, it’s not because we don’t care.  It’s the opposite.  It’s because we care, it’s difficult, and it’s complex – and it’s so complex that we don’t know what to do, and because we have no idea what to do, we just pick whatever it was that was chosen for us.” - Dan Ariely

The instigator understands this weakness in others and recognizes it as an opportunity to lead.

Real Courage

It takes real courage to start something from scratch.

It takes bravery to step foot into the unknown of creation.

Trying to capture the elusive and ephemeral images from your imagination so you can put them on paper in such a way as to elicit a meainingful reaction from the reader is hard (way harder than sideline critics realize).

Trying to build a sustainable business that improves the world (your world, meaning your clients, your customers, and your community), while simultaneously affording you a healthy living is hard.

Trying to create and lead an organization is hard.

It’s hard, but the instigator chooses to do the hard thing anyway.

“The warrior knows that he is free to choose his desires, and he makes these decisions with courage, detachment and – sometimes – with just a touch of madness.” - Warrior of the Light

What separates the instigator from 99.9% of society?

Instigators do the things that scare them.


What have you done recently that scared you?  Share your comments below.

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