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Guest Post: Keeping Creativity Fresh

This was such an amazing read, that I had to repost it. If you'd like to read more of the same, check out Michael's blog here.

If you can answer that question you can pretty much write your ticket for any career. But from looking at the history of humans, that "successful idea" is more of a hit or miss kind of thing than anyone wants it to be.

What got me thinking about this recently is the Frank Capra film, It's a Wonderful Life. Capra loved the story and poured himself into the film. But when the film hit the box office two weeks before Christmas it generated a lackluster reception. U.S. reviews were mixed and the British press hated it. It's a Wonderful Life appeared to be a huge flop.

Part of the explanation for its cool reception had to do with timing. When the film debuted in 1947 war-worn Americans were in no mood for the dark aspects of the film.

That could've been the sad end to this tale. But the film wouldn't die. A year later Capra got a good hint that he had hit home with some people. He received a bag of mail stuffed with letters from over 1500 inmates at San Quentin telling how they had been moved by the film. Over the next decades of Capra's life, he was reminded of how the film had touched people as fan mail continued to pour in.

In 1974 the film caught a reviving blast of life through a clerical error. It was accidentally placed in public domain. Television stations across the country snatched it up to air during the holiday season. To a viewing audience distanced from World War II, the story line was welcomed and each year the fan base for It's a Wonderful Life grows as another generation is introduced to this holiday classic at Christmas.

So what strikes me about the story of Capra's classic is that what really matters is to stay dedicated to an idea based on its integrity not it's possibility for success (success these days seeming to mean making a pile of cash).

Nothing new, right? You've probably heard that before from some motivational speaker. They sing the wonders of working hard on worthy ideas with the aim of excellence. But then they dangle that little shiny bauble; of course you will make lots of moola, too.

Sometimes some people do make a wad of money.

Yep, there are folks on this planet who seem to have a gift for that money-making idea stuff. But even they aren't making it big with every inspiration. Every so often their big dream lands like a wet sack of dirt.

What amazes me is how they don't let those failures keep them from their next dream. They live out their lives persistent, pit-bull latched on, yet willing to move on when they know it's time to let go.

So. . . what if you aren't one of those natural born entrepreneurs? What if your skills, your dreams lie outside mainstream? That's where the test of character comes into play. Are you willing to stay committed to an idea even when there seems to be no guarantee of fame or fortune or it requires a long-term vision?

Now I'm not advocating blindly chasing some dream, however absurd. Aspirations need to be regularly evaluated. Discussed with trusted wise friends or family.

But if your idea stands the test, stay with it. Be creative in the way you approach it. Be willing to let the dream take on a different form than you first envisioned. Be courageous. Take up the chase, even if sometimes it feels like there's a wrecking ball swinging through the middle of your plans.

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