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Be a Creator

There is a lot to say about following versus creating. Not too long ago, I heard an excellent analogy discussing the difference between a person who follows a map versus a person who creates a map. Those following a map adhere to the rules and guidelines of life and projects. They are risk adverse and look to fix problems. They operate robotically and tend to think in a more confined sphere.

In contrast, a map creator is accountable and takes responsibility for the process, direction, and where they anticipate the obstacles to arise. They consider all of the externalities and the context of the situation. Creators innovate and perform things in an entirely new direction. They handle mass quantities of ambiguity and build the future they are aiming to arrive at. Creator's skillsets value solution development and craftsmanship, they are proactive and reactive. A map creator creates meaning out of the unknown and can harness chaos into certainty.

Creators can diligently extract insight from their observations and couple it with action. Action is what implements change. No value is created from insight without the action when they work together; they are powerful. Creators share their opinions and look for those willing to rebuttal; they open channels for communication and constructive conflict. Disagreement allows for the development of mutually beneficial growth. This allows for more significant improvement.

Let's imagine the discussion of implementing a traffic stoplight. One person starts with the idea of having a red-light signal for the car to stop, a colleague hates the idea of only having one color to cue the stop of a vehicle, so he suggests that a green light should sit above it to indicate when the car should go. Stop and go, they agree on this decision. After testing the stoplight for a month, they noticed an increase in the number of accidents due to the quick change between red and green. The team goes back to the drawing board to discuss solutions—a different person chips in suggesting that there should be a color in between going and stopping. There should be a signal to slow down, thus a third color, the yellow light was added. Now, I am not sure this is how the discussion went down, but this hypothetical example demonstrates how creators can use disagreement to channel new ways of solution-seeking.

The discussion of ideas is pivotal. Learning to appreciate those that share their thoughts and welcome constructive criticism allows you to find improvement. What skills do you think are the most important to be a creator versus a follower? How can you work on your skillsets to become a better creator?

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