Sunday, 20 March 2016

Don't Oppress Your Creative Instincts

Original Picture taken from StockSnap
Recently, I've been reading Rolf Dobelli's "The art of thinking clearly", a very interesting book on psychological issues we have in our everyday lives. In one of the very early chapters he talks about the so called "survivorship bias", which makes us overestimate our chances by ignoring people who failed doing something and concentrating on those who succeeded.

Dobelli uses a very appropriate example to make his case:
Aspiring writers.
A lot of us are hoping to become the next J.K. Rowling, or a less mysogynist version of Hemingway, but we hardly ever think of all the other creative minds who have had the same idea, but never found a publisher, abandoned their manuscripts, or never even had the courage to write one.
We never talk about failures, only about successes, because that's what we want to hear.

So, Dobelli advises us to do a serious reality check to bring us back down to earth. There are crushed dreams everywhere. Hopes turned to dust. Do we really want to go through all this stress without ever getting what we want from it?

It is important to note that this doesn't mean that we should never try anything at all. But we should put our aspirations into perspective. What do I want to do and why do I want to do it? Is it supposed to be just fun or do I want to get some kind of higher recognition? Do I want to make a living from it?
By assessing those factors we are able to avoid the survivorship bias and see everything more clearly.

Eventually, things might happen, things that even surpass your humble expectations. You might be able to quit your job to fully commit to a job in a creative field, but the disappointment will not be as heavy if it remains a hobby with the sole purpose to fill the hours on the weekends.

Seeing other people succeed in life can be blinding. Every day we see people living the "perfect life" and we want that, too. Success is all around us, but we rarely see the side effects.
Being a victim of the survivorship bias can be crushing, but trying to avoid it too hard can be just as fatal.
Know how much you can take - how many blows, how many disappointments.
Know your worth and work on whatever makes you happy.
Do what you want to do, but keep your expectations within reach.
Good things will happen, but also bad things. And you'll be fine, because you tried and made an effort.

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