Want to Be a Better Creative? Scare Yourself and Learn to Fly

How I took a risk to find creative inspiration

At Huge, my job is to create transformative experiences for consumers across myriad landscapes—from platforms and products to AR/VR to Super Bowl spots and yes, even print ads. The boundaries and channels where creativity can live change rapidly as user behavior evolves. I believe there's no better time to be in our industry. 

But a few years ago, before joining Huge, I had reached an impasse of sorts. I felt a little burned out. A bit bored. Struggling to stay motivated, it became frustratingly clear to me that I couldn't create transformative experiences for my clients when I wasn't experiencing them for myself. 

While some friends suggested getting a "side hustle," it wasn't for me. It was about more than finding somewhere else to place my creative energy. I needed something to help energize me. 

Then it hit me—I needed to scare myself. Scare myself like I did when I left business school to head to portfolio school without a clue of where it would lead. Scare myself like when I packed up and moved to take an entry-level job at at a New York ad agency. Scare myself like when I had to present work to that CCO that I idolized. 

So what did I do? I got my pilot's license. It's something I've always wanted to do, but had never been bold enough to take a risk and make that move to fly. 

It wasn't until I started flying with an instructor, and then by myself, that I truly understood what it was that made it so transformative to my psyche, and later, to my creative output. It wasn't just about the fear and the natural energy that created. When flying, the things that seem so big on the ground actually look very small. Being completely present and in the moment is the first prerequisite of flying, and for me, gives new perspectives on my career and the toughest creative challenges. 

The things we think shield us from leaving our everyday comfort zones on the ground can quickly become life-or-death liabilities in the air. Lack of confidence. Slow decision making. Unimaginative thinking. All of these things can cause serious issues at the wrong time. I always find that when I'm back on the ground, the clarity lasts well beyond the energy of the endorphin rush. When I go back to the office on Mondays, I'm able to see challenges that completely baffled me on Friday with a re-energized mind that confidently produces fast and creative solutions for our clients. 

After researching further, I've discovered that it's not a coincidence that many of today's top business leaders all count physically and mentally exhausting hobbies that lend themselves to some element of danger as instrumental parts of their lives. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey hikes every single Saturday. Google's Sergey Brin is an amateur acrobat. Richard Branson's thrill-seeking hobbies are notorious—the Virgin founder dabbles in marathons and kiteboarding when he's out of the office. 

What should you do if you find yourself lacking inspiration like me? While you don't have to be at the same level as these luminaries—I'm certainly not—just take a risk. Scare yourself. Chase a change of perspective. 

My biggest tip for success: Find something you never ever thought you could or would do, and then go do it. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, get out of your physical environment—literally. It will pay off with a clarity of thought and a renewed sense of energy. 

Because the best transformative experiences remind us how small we are in the vastness of the world and force us to look at everything differently. Even that brief that's due in five hours. 

Martin Adams

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