The One Secret That Amped Up My Creativity

children-403582_1920I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’m a sucker for secret formulas. I remember sitting in my dorm room back in college watching some infomercial on late night television tell me how if I could just learn to place tiny inexpensive classified ads into newspapers all over the country (yes, I realize I’m dating myself with this example!) how I could (I don’t remember how at this point) transform those ad placements into wealth beyond my wildest dreams. In my spare time. For just pennies a day.

I can still remember, in those pre-internet days, sending away for the course which would be delivered to my doorstep (or… dorm-step, I guess. Ha.) in “four to six weeks.” I can still picture my younger self daydreaming with breathless anticipation this life changing course which would set me upon my new path to easy riches. Clearly the course worked like a charm and today I am a broken, shell of a man writing this to you. Kidding. Mostly.

Can you imagine? Here I was, a college student, paying many thousands of dollars year in order to ‘get my education,’ but instead of doing my homework I was staring at an infomercial… my phone (a land line, of course) clenched in my sweaty palm… prepared to call in and give them every cent I had if necessary. I was caught in the cleverly laid trap of a television marketer.

What was the trap?

“I’ve discovered the one secret key that will rescue you from this life of toil. I have the formula that will make it smooth sailing and easy going for you from here on out.”

When you read that did your heart just skip a beat? Was there a little voice in the back of your head that whispered “Oooo… Maybe this time is different. Maybe there really is a key that will unlock a door in myself and lead me to… wealth. Ease. Comfort.” Or maybe you felt a twinge of “Perhaps this is the thing that will complete me. The thing that will help me once-and-for-all see the path in front of me so I can simply go, and do the thing I was called to do.”padlock-219689_1280

If that sounds like you, then you’re not alone. The truth is that my heart skipped a little beat when I read it, too. And I wrote it! Oy vey!

Friends, here’s the truth… When it comes to life, to creativity, and especially making a living as a creative, I’ve got some good news, and some bad news.

The good news? (With apologies to William Goldman)

“There are no secrets! Anyone who tells you different is selling something…”

And the bad news?

“There are no secrets! Anyone who tells you different is selling something…”

There it is. The big secret (the good news and the bad news) is that there are no secrets. The fact is it’s gotten 1,000 times easier to make that pitch now that we have the internet, and it can make it all that much easier to be left with a vague unsettled feeling that someone (or maybe even everyone) knows something that we don’t which is helping them to get ahead, making their lives easier, or clearing their roadblocks to amazing creativity and productivity.

I’d love to tell you that late night infomercial was my only brush with a marketer promising to give me the missing puzzle piece (for just 9 easy payments of…), but like many of us I still have a soft spot in my heart for people pitching me ‘the answer ‘to all my problems.’ Or perhaps I’ve just gotten a little soft in the head.

The one difference between the me of back-in-the-day, and the me of now is that I am armed with the mantra of “there are no secrets…” and most of the time this is the thing I need to bring me back to reality. Because really the only secret to amping up our creativity is getting back to work.

Have you ever purchased (or been tempted to purchase) something based on the promise of having secret knowledge revealed? Tell me about it in the comments below!