from Lateral Action
We all want to do remarkable things, and lead remarkable lives. No one wants to spend the day engaged in mundane productivity in pursuit of a meaningless consumer existence. Certainly not you, right? So why do we find it so hard to break out of our rut and do truly innovative things?
Because it’s hard. Because it often requires us to significantly alter our perspectives and step outside our comfort zones. It’s almost like becoming another person.
I Know This Because Tyler Knows This…
If you haven’t seen the movie Fight Club (or read Chuck Palahniuk’s excellent novel), I won’t spoil the fantastic plot twist where we come to understand who Tyler Durden really is. The story isn’t for everyone, but if you think it’s about fighting, you’re on the wrong track.
At its core, Fight Club is about living the life you truly want to live, and the hard path to getting there. Tyler helps the story’s nameless hero (usually referred to as Jack) down that path to enlightenment, so maybe what Tyler says can help the rest of us as well.
Luckily, Tyler says a lot of things that apply directly to innovative action. Here are his 8 rules for creative people to live by.
Tyler’s First Rule of Innovation:
No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.”
This is the most important lesson, and it’s the one people struggle with and resist. Tim Ferriss advocates the 80/20 rule of productivity, where you focus relentlessly on the 20% of the actions that lead to 80% of the return. People see this as nice in theory, but not practical.
But believe it or not, this is how I’ve been running my businesses for the last 10 years. I used to actually feel guilty because I wasn’t constantly “getting things done” at a maniacal pace, even though I was enjoying increasingly significant success each year. It’s only been in the last few years I’ve realized that this approach is essential for entrepreneurs and creative professionals of all stripes.
The 80/20 rule of productivity requires radical elimination, or letting that which does not matter to creative moves truly slide. Use that newfound time for creative thinking that leads to innovative action, and you will succeed, guaranteed.
Tyler’s Second Rule of Innovation:
No fear! No distractions! The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide!”
Seriously. Don’t break the first two rules.
Tyler’s Third Rule of Innovation:
I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let’s evolve, let the chips fall where they may.”
Let’s face it, when we break Tyler’s first two rules of innovation and distract ourselves with foolish productivity, it’s often because we’re afraid (which also violates Tyler’s first two rules). We’re afraid of failure, ridicule, risk, mediocrity, and perhaps even success itself.
If you’re going to evolve and grow as a creative person, you’re going to make mistakes. In fact, you should start making twice as many mistakes as soon as possible if you want to have an innovative breakthrough.
Make mistakes and let the chips fall where they may. You might like the landing.
Tyler’s Fourth Rule of Innovation:
It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
Oh, yeah… don’t be afraid to make big mistakes. More importantly, don’t worry about everything going according to plan. In fact, if everything’s going according to plan, there’s a good chance nothing remarkable is getting done.
They say life is what happens while you’re making other plans. Innovation is what happens when you recognize when to change the plan and perhaps the entire game. Maybe your initial plan falls apart, or maybe you simply need to throw the current plan away.
Don’t let the plan restrict the freedom to have a game-changing idea, and act on it, at any time. Losing everything may be the best thing that ever happens to you.