Jordan Peterson – The Curse of Creativity

Jordan Peterson – The Curse of Creativity


Um, you know, you hear very frequently
people say things like “everyone’s creative”. It’s like – that’s wrong, okay? It’s wrong. It’s just as wrong as saying, that everyone’s extroverted. First of all, you have to be pretty damn smart to be creative. Because otherwise, you’re just gonna get to where other people have already got – and that’s not creative by definition, so… So, being fast and being out there,
at the front of things, really makes a difference. And then, you also have to have these divergent thinking capabilities. And that’s part of your trait structure. And creative people are really different than non-creative people. You know, partly because, for example: they’re highly motivated to do creative things,
and to experience novelty, (and to… x3) chase down aesthetic experiences, and to attend movies, and to read fiction, and to go to museums, and to enjoy poetry, and to enjoy music
that’s not conventional music, for example. These aren’t trivial differences. And so, it’s a real misstatement to make
the proposition, that everyone’s creative. It’s just simply not the case,
it’s a matter of wishful thinking. It’s like saying, that everyone is intelligent. It’s like, well, if everyone is intelligent,
then the term loses all of its meaning. Because any term, that you can apply to every member of a category, has absolutely no meaning. Now, that doesn’t- And you know, the other thing you wanna be thinking about here, is that – don’t be thinking, that creativity is such a good thing. It’s a high-risk/high-return strategy. So if you’re creative… you just try this!
There’s creative people in this room, man. You guys are going to have a hell of a time monetizing your creativity. It’s virtually impossible.
It’s really, really difficult. Because, first of all, let’s say
you make an original product. You think the world will be the pathway to your door, if you build a better mousetrap. It’s like, that’s complete rubbish.
It isn’t- it isn’t true in the least. If you make a good, creative product,
you’ve probably solved about 5% of your problem. Because then you have marketing,
which is insanely difficult. And then you have sales,
and then you have customer support, And then, you have to build an organization, and you have to… If it’s really novel, you have to tell people,
what the hell the thing is! You know, we built this Future Authoring program, right?
[stutter] It’s available for people online. How do you market that? No one knows what that is,
and that’s a real problem. If you wrote a book – well, then you have the problem,
that another million people have also written a book. But if you produce something, that’s
completely new and doesn’t have a category, people can’t search for it online.
How are they gonna find it? So you, you just have-
And then you have pricing problems, and… It’s really, unbelievably difficult to produce
something creative, and then monetize it. And even worse, if you’re the creative person:
let’s say you have a spectacular invention. You’ve got no money, right?
You’ve got no customers. Those are big problems. And so, maybe
you go and you find a venture capitalist. We start with family and friends,
cause that’s how it works. You raise money for your product – you raise money from your family and friends. That’s assuming, you have family and friends that have some money, and that they’re going to give it to you. And most people aren’t in that situation.
So it’s a terrible barrier right off the bat! And then of course, you’re putting your family and friends at substantial financial risk, because the probability, that your stupid idea is gonna make money, is virtually zero. Even if it’s a really brilliant idea! And so then, let’s say: well, you get past family and friends, and you get venture capitalists involved. Cause that’s often the next step. Or an angel investor, that’s-
There’s steps in building a business. Family and friends, angel investor – that’s some rich guy, that you’ve happened to meet some manner- in some way; who’s into this sort of thing, and is willing to provide you with some money, to get your product off the ground. Well, how much of your product [profit] is that person gonna take? Well, most of it! Most of it.
And then, if you get a venture- And no wonder, because, you know…
You don’t have any money. How are you gonna bargain for control over your product? He’ll just say: “Well, do you want the money or not?” And if your answer is “no”, then… he’ll go and
do something else with his money. It’s not like… There’s no shortage of things,
that you can do with your money. There’s million things you can do with it!
So, you’re not in a great bargaining position. And then, if you get venture capitalists involved,
they’ll take another big chunk. And maybe, if they’re not very straight with you,
they’ll just throw you out! Because maybe, by that point in the company’s development, you’re nothing but a pain in the neck. Because what do you know about:
marketing, and sales, and customer service, and building an organization, and running a business? Like, you don’t have a clue.
So why do they need you? So, even if you’re successful at generating a new idea,
and you put it into a business, the probability that you, as the originator of the- of the idea, are going to make some money
from it – is very, very low! So don’t be thinking, that creativity is such a…
Something you would want to curse yourself with. Now, you know, it’s not all bad, because it opens up
avenues of experience for creative people, that aren’t available to people who aren’t creative. But it definitely is a high-risk/high-return strategy, you know? So, the overwhelming probability is that you will fail. But a small proportion of creative people succeed spectacularly. And so, it’s like a lottery in some sense. You’re probably gonna lose.
But if you don’t lose, you could win big. And that keeps a lot of creative people going.
But also, they don’t really have much choice in it! Because if you’re a creative person,
you’re like a fruit tree, that’s- that’s bearing fruit. So, you don’t really have-
You can suppress it, but it’s very bad for you. You know, the creative people I’ve worked with,
is if they’re not creative, they’re miserable. So they have to do it, but… And you know, there’s real joy and pleasure in it,
[stutters] and psychological utility. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean, that it’s an intelligent…. It’s certainly not a conservative strategy,
for moving forward through life. So… And you know, whenever I talk to people who are creative, and you guys should listen to this,
because I know what I’m talking about. If you happen to be creative: if you’re
a songwriter, or another kind of musician, or an artist, or any of the other number of things, that you might be… Find a way to make money.
And then practice your craft on the side. Because, you’ll starve to death otherwise. Now, some for some of you that won’t be true, but it’s a tiny minority. Your best bet is to find a job,
that will keep body and soul together, and parse off some time,
that you can pursue your creative thing. Because then, well… as a long-term strategy,
your medium-to-long-term strategy, it’s a better one. But it’s gotten incredibly difficult for people, musicians for example, it’s incredibly difficult for new musicians,
to monetize their… their craft. Even if they’re really, really good at it! So, it’s, it’s…
Well, so anyways, so don’t be… So I say: “well, everyone’s not creative”.
And everybody goes: “Oh, that’s terrible!” It’s like, it’s not so terrible!
It’s not someth- It’s not self-evident, that you would curse
someone with high levels of creativity.

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