In the spring of 2011, I was elected recruitment chair of my fraternity. I had spent a lot of time thinking about the position, and my brain goo was swirling with ideas to convince freshman to join us instead of them. I was also assigned a committee of eager fraternity members, each with their own passion and ideas about the mission. The only thorn in this happy marriage was that I didn’t want anything to do with the committee.
I had spent a lot of time thinking about the job. I had a vision. I had been elected for the position, not them. I didn’t see why I would need anyone’s help…that is, until I picked up a phone call in the middle of a Magic: The Gathering tournament about a recruitment event that evening that I had sort of, kind of, decided to worry about later.
There’s a myth I used to buy into about the creative lone wolf – a tortured genius that toils into the night coming up with the perfect solution that shocks and impresses everyone. But as I said, the creative lone wolf is a myth.
Every successful creative person finds inspiration through their peers and every creative project is made stronger by collaboration and a “yes and” attitude.
Since starting improv two and a half years ago, I find that it’s harder and harder to tackle projects on my own – and that’s a good thing. When it came to writing my book, I thought it’d be an easy project. But as it evolved, I realized that I was just a writer, I’d need help with design, illustration, editing, promotion, the list goes on. And once I opened up and let people in, I was shocked by how willing my friends were to help. It wasn’t long before people were freely offering their time and ideas to help make my little project into a big success.
It can be scary to drop your guard and let people into the fragile creative process when everything is still messy, rather than in its shiny, final form. But people want to help. They want to be a part of that process. Your community is more supportive than you realize.
If I had just asked for help in college, especially when people were so eager to accept responsibility, maybe I wouldn’t have dropped the ball on a big event.
The lone wolf is a myth, even in nature. When separated from its pack for too long, a wolf will die. The creative lone wolf is no different. Go out, build a team of people that you respect, trust, and love, just like your improv team. They can help motivate you, “yes and” you, and add value to your creative projects without asking anything in return. Everyone needs a pack.
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