The truth is, while you may be an entrepreneur in a non-creative space, if you’re an entrepreneur—you should start thinking of yourself as a creative. The definition of create is to produce something from nothing—by starting a business you’ve done just that. I’ve come to discover that we all have the capacity to be creative.
With this in mind, I’ve put together a list of seven of my favorite books that not only inspire creativity, but promote discipline, productivity, passion and focus.
THE CREATIVE HABIT Twyla Tharp
Twyla Tharp, a dancer and choreographer, brilliantly captures the necessity of focusing ones creativity. Through a series of questions, and interaction with the reader, Tharp takes you from example to example of her personal failures and triumphs as a choreographer. She offers concrete illustrations of how she manages her big ideas, and allows you as the reader to step positively into a place of self-discipline. You’ll need a notebook for this one! Just before I started reading The Creative Habit, I popped into a lovely little bookshop in Santa Monica where I purchased a “DEcomposition” notebook—it’s first pages are filled with lovely reminders from this book.
Tweetable Quote: “The more you know, the better you can imagine.”
THE RIGHT TO WRITE Julia Cameron
Morning Pages, Sketching, and Artist Dates are just a few of the recommendations Cameron makes in her book The Right to Write. While the book focuses on writing exercises for writers, the practices encouraged by Cameron in the book are particularly applicable to entrepreneurs. Setting aside time with yourself to write in the morning, no matter how “good” or “bad” the writing is, is imperative to improving and sharpening this skill. Similar to Tharpe’s The Creative Habit, this book promotes the idea of turning a creative activity into a habitual part of our daily routines.
Tweetable Quote: “We should write, above all, because we are writers, whether we call ourselves that or not.”
THE ELEMENT Ken Robinson
Exploring and challenging the way we look at how we run our schools, businesses, communities and institutions, the Element is about discovering your passion by investigating your natural talents. Using the life stories of successes like Arianna Huffington, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, Robinson’s book encourages readers to push through the negative experiences that could deter them from exploring their interests. This books promotes the notion that while it’s best to get an early start, it is never actually too late to discover “the Element” inside yourself.
Tweetable Quote: “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”
STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST Austin Kleon
This book is smart, funny, quick and easy to read!
Steal like an artist.
Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.
Write the book you want to read.
Use your hands.
Side projects and hobbies are important.
The secret: do good work and share it with people.
Geography is no longer our master.
Be nice. (The world is a small town.)
Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)
Creativity is subtraction
Tweetable Quote: "If you ever find that you're the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.”
DARING GREATLY Brene Brown
Brene Brown has been inspiring me (and the masses) for years, her TED Talks discussing her research on vulnerability and shame are equally informative and moving. In Daring Greatly, a title she pulls from one of her favorite quotes by President Theodore Roosevelt, she talks about the importance of learning to place those who matter in our own personal “arenas.”
Brown consistently leads conversations that hold a mirror up to each of us, that push us to confront our own attitudes toward others, but move beyond that and sincerely face our attitudes toward ourselves. As she so graciously states, “don’t try to win over the haters; you’re not the jackass whisperer.” Reminding us to put the opinions of others into perspective, and work through our own attitudes toward our shortcomings first.
Tweetable Quote: “The willingness to show up changes us, it makes us a little braver each time.”
OUTLIERS Malcolm Gladwell
In Outliers, Gladwell discusses what makes those who have achieved the unachievable, candidates for such a high level of success. In one part of the book, he studies the difference between those with the same level of natural ability, who have wound up in completely different places. Noting that it is more than talent, but it is also more than luck or happenstance that take individuals to higher levels of success. Most notably from this book is Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule, in which he proposes that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice before one can master a field. Though it has come under much scrutiny, I highly recommend this book—it is a unique perspective on the things that have played into the success of many legends living and long gone.
Tweetable Quote: “Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good.”
WHAT THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE DO BEFORE BREAKFAST Laura Vanderkam
Books like this one encourage you to seize the day, and maximize your potential and productivity. Vanderkam pulls largely from psychology professor Roy Baumeister’s (GO NOLES!) theory that will power is a limited resource that is depleted throughout the day. In quick succinct chapters, Vanderkam, a career expert, studies morning rituals. The idea is that most of us are at our optimal level of ability and focus in the beginning hours of the day, so doing things like exercising, creative activities, completing projects, etc. are best done during this time.
Tweetable Quote: “Before the rest of the world is eating breakfast, the most successful people have already scored daily victories that are advancing them toward the lives they want.”
The best thing about books, is that they provide valuable insight into the experience of others--it's like being able to take your favorite class as often as you'd like in whatever setting you please. As you continue to develop your business and grow yourself as an entrepreneur, you must continually seek knowledge, and feed your mind and creativity daily.