It has never been easier to create than it is today. We have incredible tools at our disposal and they are getting better all the time. So, why isn’t everyone incredibly successful at whatever it is they want to do? I have found the primary reason for this is that we do not teach how to be successful.
Like many people, I spent a lot of time in the traditional educational system. This included both K-12, undergraduate work, and then graduate degrees. I am a huge believer in education, but I am skeptical of many elements of today’s traditional educational track. Imagine spending 12 to 14 years in school (pre-school and K-12) and at the end of it having no real idea how to accomplish what you want to accomplish. This is the situation that an alarmingly large number of people are in. Going to college is no magical bullet either. There are lots and lots of college graduates who don’t have any better idea of how to accomplish what they want than do high school graduates. Therefore, I believe a key to success is to prioritize self-education.
I have been told by a fair number of people that they just can’t learn online. That is a major barrier to success because success requires constant learning and the internet can provide an education in basically any topic at very low cost and very often free. So, if you are a person who cannot learn online, you are at an extreme disadvantage. My recommendation is to rectify that problem immediately.
I have a stack of things I need to learn, but I would never think about enrolling in a traditional university course (much less a whole degree program) for any of them. Self-education is reading (quality) blogs, watching (quality) YouTube videos, reading books, listening to podcasts, and enrolling in one of the tens of thousands (often informal) self-paced online courses created by experts in different fields. Instead of homework and a grade, the only measure of how well you have learned the material is how effectively you apply it to increase your own success. Some people will hate that. Those who thrive on it will be the most successful.
In the broadest sense, what you need to learn is as follows:
1. Technical Execution. Whether you want to create games, write stories, make movies, or anything else, it is getting technically easier every day. Find out what it takes to create what you want to create and then learn the necessary tools and techniques. It will probably take less than you think to accomplish your creative project. And even if your creative project is going to take a lot to complete, I bet it will take less than you think to start.
2. Human Relations. This part is so often neglected. Even in a society awash in technology, the human component is still the factor that ultimately determines the success of your creative endeavors. Fortunately, this is a skill that can be learned like any other. Human connections are almost surely going to be necessary to produce your creative work, and they are almost certainly going to be necessary to be sure that your work is consumed and enjoyed. If people do not experience what you are creating, you won’t build a sustainable creative business. There are many blogs, books, videos, and games that are excellent, but no one knows about them. Learn how to make the essential connections with people. And yes, technology can help you with that. You can sit at your computer and do almost all of the necessary work to make these connections. I work with lots of people I have never met and only know through social media and email.
3. Self Discipline. Technology is still not a magic bullet. You must still prioritize sitting down and putting in the time to create whatever it is that you are going to create. I don’t know anyone who is successful who spends only two or three hours a week working on their creative business. You will be amazed at how much you can get accomplished in one hour of dedicated work. You will also be struck by how many hours it is actually going to take to achieve the level of success you want. I recently spoke with the vice-president of a film company. I told him I was not sure what was easy and what was hard about film-making. His response was, “It is all hard.” So, after learning the tools, prepare to put in the time.
I realize that is a high-level overview, but it is where I think it all begins. When I started my journey as a creative entrepreneur, I had no idea what was required to make it successful. But I realized that success is a skill that can be learned and its techniques replicated. Essentially, that is what this blog is about. How do you go from a creative idea to a successfully executed project as part of a successful and sustainable business? While the technical skill necessary to create a product will change over time and between fields, the fundamentals of building a successful business will not.
Of course, I could be wrong, and so I put together a Twitter poll to get people talking:
Given the extraordinary power technology gives us, why do you think most people are not accomplishing everything they want?
— Heath Robinson (@EHeathRobinson) November 30, 2016
What do you think? With everything technology offers us today, why hasn’t everyone accomplished what they want to accomplish?