Last month, i spoke teasingly about a new project i was working on without giving anything away. Now, i’m prepared to give a lot more away…
For quite a while I’ve considered carrying out some social experiments but I’d usually end up keeping ideas stored on an iPhone or in a notepad file, like I do with many technical / IT related ideas or even ideas for blog posts & designs. After all, i’m not a psychology student, i’m not working for a research company, so why would I bother carrying out my own experiments? Good question. The answer is I just like creating “interesting” stuff. I’ve said it plenty of times in the past but creativity fuels me… it’s addictive but in a good / productive kind of way. It could be a design, a blog post, a video… anything… coming up with original ideas and executing them excites me. It’s my drug.
If you want to do something, the logical question to ask yourself is “what’s stopping me from doing it?”. 99% of the time, what’s stopping us from doing something is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of harder work than we’re used to, fear of people’s reactions. The reality is it’s much easier to think about doing something than to actually do it. Losing weight is a great example… most people want to do it but the majority give up or go through short bursts where they lose some and then put it back on. Losing weight and keeping it off long term is hard work. It requires a permanent shift in your thought process & lifestyle. That’s the bit where most people fall down… permanent change is hard work and rarely comfortable.
In order to accomplish any goal or something that’s way beyond your comfort zone, you need a change of philosophy or you need to reverse certain thoughts or habits you may have formed over a long period of time. I don’t want to go all deep and philosophical here so i’ll keep it simple. Words have the power to kill people, make people angry, happy, perhaps super motivated and excited or giddy. If you agree with that statement, then you’ll also agree that simply by reading a story or a message, you can transform your way of thinking. And transforming your way of thinking is all that’s required to give you the motivation to do something. If you can source words from some super successful and highly motivated people (who’ve actually done stuff), then generally you should feel inspired. If you don’t, I find some context tends to help…
For example, our odds of existing are tiny. I don’t just mean us as humans, i mean our planet and the stuff that came before planets. Our minds explode just thinking about why we’re here – we’re actually all incapable of processing it. The smartest and richest people on the planet have never figured it out, still can’t figure it out and can’t buy an answer. You can throw an infinite number of humans and resources at this problem and the puzzle will still never be solved. Einstein couldn’t figure it out, Steven Hawking doesn’t know.. super computers can’t help us. We all share the same limitations as humans and we all end up dying. So the fact we exist at this very moment in time and have a bunch of other humans around us every day presents us with opportunities to exploit before we die, because of course we’ve got a finite time on earth.
We’re also fortunate to live in civilised times. We can sleep at night knowing an army of men with swords and horses aren’t going to set our house on fire and behead us whilst we sleep. We don’t have to go killing animals by hand and growing stuff in our gardens to eat… we can just go to a drive-through McDonalds a few miles away and the biggest inconvenience we’re faced with is something silly like a bad song coming on the radio. So we’re lucky to be alive today and even luckier if we’re healthy and both physically & mentally capable of doing things. Lucky in the sense that we’ve defied odds simply by existing… a lot of people don’t consider that as lucky and in some cases feel the opposite, but because we do exist and because we have thoughts, why not follow through with them and try to shape our own lives for the better? We *can* shape our lives, therefore we should, rather than be miserable leading lives we don’t want to lead.
So if you’re thinking about doing something and are capable of doing it, just do it or bury it and move on to something else. Don’t add to your to-do list if you’ve never checked anything off your existing to-do list. Force yourself to achieve things, even if that achievement is abandoning an existing goal to make way for a new one that you’re more motivated to carry out. I’d call that progress, not failure. In one last ditch attempt at motivating you to do something, i created this pie chart. If you’re not motivated to do something that you’re spending a lot of thinking about, chances are you’re unhappy but you may not know why. This is the reason why..
So all of that rambling above is an insight in to how i think, how i motivate myself and why i believe i could probably convince myself to do anything if i really wanted to. It’s quite powerful and dangerous when you think about it, but i guess that’s where moral compass comes in to keep you from convincing yourself to do bad things…
It prevents me from throwing a brick through a window or opening the emergency exit door on a plane in mid-air or pulling the emergency stop handle on a train… i’m capable of doing all that stuff, as most people are, but the reason we don’t is because we know we’ll be punished and we’ll needlessly inconvenience a bunch of people, plus we may put people’s lives at risk so we come to the conclusion that it’s an all round bad thing to do because we wouldn’t like someone doing that stuff to us. If everyone did that kinda stuff, our lives would be less peaceful and enjoyable.
Getting back on track… the idea of doing social experiments was playing on my mind so I issued myself an ultimatum – “do this now or don’t do it at all”. Because i’m capable of doing them and knew i could motivate myself to do them and they’re all legal, i decided i had to push ahead because i had no good reason not to…
Commit, then do
‘Doing something’ can mean a lot of things but to me it means interacting with people and having something to show them or having questions to ask them. It’s largely about seeking validation for work. Rarely will we do something creative purely for our own benefit. Our need to share it with other people is increasing by the day thanks to technology.
I think i know what other people like but rather than trust my (biased) judgement of my own ideas, i decided to ask people what they thought about this whole social experiment concept before i committed to doing it. The feedback was good… people confirmed what i originally thought, which in turn gives me confidence to execute lots of other smaller decisions without looking for feedback every step of the way.
My first social experiment is something that generally provokes a reaction out of people that hear about it. A reaction like “holy shit, you’re crazy” or “omg, i could never do that”… a sort of nervous / excited / crazy / giddy reaction which is precisely the reaction i had when i originally thought about the idea… if some of my friends came to me and asked me what would i think if they carried out this experiment, i’d feel the same way – i’d be looking forward to seeing how it plays out… i’d genuinely want to see the end result out of curiosity and i know i’d watch the experiment from start to finish on video because it would be guaranteed entertainment.
When you get people reacting like that to things, it means you’ve struck a cord with them. If all of the responses were just palming me off with “yeah, sounds good” or “all the best with it” etc… then i’d get a little suspicious that people are just feeding me crap because it’s easier to do that than to risk hurting my feelings by telling me my idea is rubbish and probably won’t work.
So I know I’ve potentially got good ideas for experiments (at least for my first couple which is all I’ve spoken about to anyone). How i determine their success will ultimately be measured in views and feedback once the experiments are complete. But the only way i can find out whether they’ll be successful is completing them, so in many ways what happens after i click ‘publish’ is out of my control and not something i should be worrying too much about. At that stage I’ve done my homework, backed a horse and the race has started. All i can do is watch the race unfold and hope my horse comes in.
These experiments will be carried out under a new ‘Creative Pillars’ brand. They’re not all personal and not just about me, so i figured *if* people like them, they’re probably gonna want to see more of the same stuff, under the one brand.
The goal is to carry out one social experiment per month, publishing one video per month to the youtube channel. I wanted to kick things off with the most challenging experiment i could think of for myself because if i can get through that unscathed, then anything else will seem fairly easy after it. In other words, i’m throwing myself in to the deep end.
I won’t reveal the experiment now because it’ll ruin the sense of anticipation but you won’t have long to wait as it will be live by the end of the month (last week of the month). The first experiment is quite random but should produce some great reactions and interesting results… the second experiment will be more technology related but will also be fascinating to watch and will hopefully produce interesting results too.
If you’re interested in seeing these videos, subscribe to the Creative Pillars youtube channel and like the facebook page. I’ll also be putting a website live where i’ll run through the results and lessons learned from every experiment. The videos will inevitably be awkward and funny to watch but they’ll also be strangely fascinating.