Be Creative, But Not Naïve

Be Creative, But Not Naïve

Here’s the good news: recessions are the furnaces of creativity. They produce new innovators and entrepreneurs at an extraordinary rate. In fact, a recent survey of CEOs found that almost two-thirds had been fired or laid off before founding their company.

But there’s also a dark side to this creativity. Most new companies fail. Why? There are, of course, several reasons—market conditions, the competition and plain old bad luck can undermine even the best of business plans.

But these are not the principal reason new businesses fail. No, the single greatest cause of such fatalities is the naïveté of the founder.

  • They assume that because they enjoy doing something, they should be able to make a living at it. If they are an aficionado of cigars, for example, they should be able to succeed at running a smoke shop.
  • Or, they think that because they have a good idea, they should be able to parley that idea into a rewarding new venture. If they have developed a better mousetrap, they should be able to make a fortune eliminating mice.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way the world works. Success doesn’t depend on what should happen, but rather on what can happen. Whether you’re thinking about starting a new company or embarking on a new career. If you want to move in a new direction, you have to be able to do so. You gotta’ have what it takes to pull it off.

You see, all of us have an inherent talent—a gift I call your Natural because it’s an activity at which you are naturally good. The key to success in starting a new enterprise or shifting to an alternative career is to do something that puts your Natural to work. You must employ the talent you have, not the talent you wish or dream or hope you have.

So, here’s my prescription for surviving these tough times.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans out of work—or the millions more who fear they will be—use this moment to think creatively about what you want to do with the two-thirds of your life you will spend in the workplace. Now’s your chance to think outside the box, so give yourself permission to do so. But don’t be naïve about what you consider. Look for something that you love or feel compelled to do but also something that you do extremely well. Both are essential for success.

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