Some of the greatest things we all love and use today have been created, not by business masterminds, but rather by people who explored their creativity. Everything from computers, the Internet, to the Linux Operating System, and even the airplane – all invented by people who had a tremendous passion for something they loved. Rarely, if ever, was money the key driver. When you look at some of the most wonderful musicians or artists, scientists, or engineers, they are not chasing money. They simply love what they do.
But alas, at some point, many people decide that they “need to make a living” and put aside their love – to do what someone else tells them to do. And they oblige, for the sake of a meal and shelter. Some people call it selling out. Others call it growing up. Whatever it is called, it is a tremendous killer of inspiration, creativity, and imagination. It stifles progress. Beauty is lost. And success becomes rare. Success becomes the act of stealing. Deceptive marketing. Aggressive sales tactics. Psychological arm bending. When the beauty is absent, the only way to produce success becomes to take more than is received. The soul collapses inwards, like a vacuum, afraid of loss, and yet holding on to very little. There is no value in a business that relies on such hard sales tactics, producing meager products. There is no value in a business that stifles or shames creativity, entangling it with financial statements and the “bottom line”. It is a shell of what a real business should be. It is a shell of what it means to sell joy.
When you create something wonderful, people are not only willing to pay – they are eager to pay. The practical and pragmatic folks like to step in and say, “you can be creative and be business-minded too”. But I disagree. When the intent becomes to profit, time and energy is taken away from free creativity. It may be a necessity, but “profit” is always a negative “cost” to the growth of “human joy”. And the more aggressive it becomes, the less joy there truly is.
And there are those who struggle in trying to build a business, unable to attract anyone. They constantly look outwards for more “tactics” and “maneuvers” they can learn and use to attract sales. They look for information. They can’t seem to create something people want. Their creative minds are completely shut down, with the barrel of the profitability gun staring right at their head. The creative mind does not work under that type of pressure. In fact, some of the most ingenious ideas blossomed in dull moments of meditation – perhaps in a shower, or while doodling on a napkin in a relaxing lounge. Inspiration grows in the fertile soil of love, relaxation, and free thinking.
You won’t succeed with tactics. And even if you do, you probably won’t be happy anyways. You’ll have the money and no soul to go with it. You’ll die rich, but you’ll die nonetheless. And that is a rough, difficult road. It’s like trying to squeeze water out of a rock. Why take that strategy? Because it’s deceptively direct. You think of wanting nice things – a nicer car, a nicer apartment, more money to feed the wife and kids. You then connect that with a job. You then connect that with a company. You connect that with the finance and sales department. But the mistake is that we see the structure, and not how the structure came to exist. The structure came to exist because at some point, someone (or a team of people) found a way to create some joy for other people. Everything else is infrastructure and scaffolding. Everything else is actually irrelevant. The structure is overhead. The structure exists only to make the operations smoother, not to produce amazing things. In fact, having any structure only stifles the very inspiration you want to encourage. If you really want to create something amazing, let go of the structure – explore, experiment, love, and feel joy.
If you keep fooling yourself that studying business or studying marketing or sales tactics will be the “key” to success, you’re simply creating a gigantic maze in front of yourself that doesn’t need to be there. And no matter how sensible it may seem, especially to someone highly logical, you have to remember that there is practically no “logic” to wanting to swing a wooden stick at a leather ball. Yet baseball is a huge multi-billion dollar sport. There is no “logic” to trying to talk to someone over a wire. Yet telephones and the Internet have become essentials. The reality is, there is no human being smart enough to predict the future success of an idea. But we do know, that the best ideas have blossomed from people who truly loved what they do.
So I implore everyone struggling to build a business, to stop building a business. Stop thinking of creating a product. Stop thinking about how to monetize. Go back to your garage or your basement. Be curious. Explore that idea. Try to impress your friends. Create something wild, magical, and new. Ignore people who tell you, “what is the point of that?” And don’t feel pressured to try to justify yourself in financial terms. The point is love and fascination. The point is trying something that’s never been done before. The point is to do something that really, really makes you happy. Find the joy, and you’ll find success.
Everything else comes naturally as an extension of that joy. And there’s nothing wrong with eventually taking something that people love and turning it into a business. All I am suggesting is that you start with the joy first, rather than the business.