Feedback vs. Creative Ideas

Separating feedback and creative ideas is essential in both our personal and professional growth. 

“The doers are the major thinkers. The people that really create the things that change this industry are both the thinker and doer in one person.” — Steve Jobs

Larry David, who co-created the hit television series Seinfeld, once told a group of experts that he could call plays for his beloved New York Jets. How hard can it be? David asked the individuals at the dinner table. Larry David is no rookie in sharing his sports insights. In 2018 David contacted the Jets front office before the NFL Draft. He told them to select Baltimore Ravens’ star quarterback Lamar Jackson. As we know, the Jets, as well as thirty-one other franchises, passed on Jackson. Larry David felt his mind could see through the clutter of football terminology. Finally, after a long dissertation by David extolling his talents, someone at the dinner table asked, “If you can call plays, then I can write comedy.” David quickly replied, “Well, I bet you can.”  

Larry David went on to explain his process for writing hit shows. Even though they had a group of seasoned writers for Seinfeld, American comedian Jerry Seinfeld with Larry David, played an influential role in creating every single episode. Seinfeld and David needed just an idea. The writers would submit pages of ideas to Seinfeld and David. Then, both creators would review and decide which storylines they could turn into a funny scene. So, yes, David was correct. Comedy is not hard work as long as you have talented people turning ideas into emotionally resonating stories. 

Seinfeld and David’s artistic process can work for all of us as long as we know the difference between feedback and creative ideas. As a leader and coach, we need constant feedback to help improve. We also have to explore our creative minds and innovative approaches to take our visions and organizations to new levels of excellence. If we spend too much time on feedback and not enough time on creative ideas, we become stagnant in all phases of our life and development. Separating feedback and creative ideas is essential in both our personal and professional growth. 

We must educate our followers and teams on the difference. We must consistently encourage feedback but also new ideas—even though they are not complete and fully developed. In Steve Jobs’ famous commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005, he discusses this theme of connecting the dots in our life. He says, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

All Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David did were connect the dots. Today make a broad list of innovative ideas that run through your head. Encourage others on your staff to do the same. Place no limitations on these ideas, and no timetable for implementations. 

Just start making a dot!


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