3 Pillars for Creative Work

Any project that you are trying for the first time is creative work. Cook a meal. Put up an art show. Start a business. It’s new, it’s hard, and if you are smart, you’d look around for advice.  

There are 3 kind of advices here and they are equally important.

1) Do you have the right tactics?
Is your knife sharp? Can you write a grant application? Can you give a presentation with authority? Can you carry out the strategy?

2) Do you have the right strategy?
Do you understand the macro forces at work? The music business was perfect until someone started sharing mp3 for free. The ice harvesting industry was very happy until the fridge came along.

3) Do you care enough to fail?
Imagine if Thomas Edison gave up on the third try, we might not have the light bulb today. Do you care enough to try, try and try again? Do you care enough to expand emotional labour (which is different from physical labour)?

Too often, we conflate the 3 things. So, we talk to the artist about caring more but it’s not going to help one bit. Because she cares too much and it’s getting in the way.

Or the friend who wants to quit smoking and you start telling him what to do. He knows what to do. He just doesn’t care enough.

A lot of “advice” we get (or give) are tactics. We end up pushing more in the same direction. Perhaps, we need to ask if what we really need are tactics. You won’t be surprised very often, but when you are, bingo.

Hat tips to Seth Godin for introducing the idea.


The photo was taken at the MRI room. It interesting to see the difference in room lighting for the patient and the staff.

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