Book Summary: Creative Confidence

Book: Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All


These are the passages and key lessons I took away from Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley. All content credit goes to the authors.

Top Insights from the book:

1. Design for Courage

“Use the process of guided mastery – a series of small successes – to help people gain courage and overcome deep seated phobias, especially the fear of failure.”

2. Give Yourself Permission to Fail

“We all need latitude to try out new ideas. Look for ways to grant yourself creative license, or give yourself the equivalent of a get-out-of-jail-free card. Label your next idea an experiment, and let everyone know that you are just testing it out. Lower others’ expectations, so that failure can lead to learning without career damage.”

3. Framework: Reframe Challenges

“Reframing the problem allows you to address bigger, more important problems.”

“Focusing our energy on the right question can make the difference between incremental improvement and breakthrough innovation.”

4. Cultivate Creative Serendipity

“Simple changes in perspective can create new insights. If you let go of what you “know”, you can start to look at things with fresh eyes – and with more questions than answers.”

“The real insights come from getting out into the world and gaining empathy with the people whose lives you want to improve.”

5. Framework: Keep a Bug List to Find Creative Opportunities

“Write down the things that bug you, and you’ll start being more mindful of them. The point is to notice more opportunities to do things better.”

“Almost every annoyance, every point of friction, hides a design opportunity.”

6. Experiment to Learn

“The reason for prototyping is experimentation – the act of creating forces you to ask questions and make choices.”

“Relentlessly seek out clever new ways to create low-cost experiments. The best kinds of failure are quick, cheap, and early.”

7. Framework: Rate My Day

“Identify the things that bring you happiness and fulfillment. Note down your high’s and low’s of every day, and score the day. Then, look for ways to incorporate more of those things in your life.”

8. Use Language to Shape Your Culture

“To change attitudes and behaviours, it helps to first change the vernacular. The same is true for innovation. When you influence the dialogue around new ideas, you will influence broader patterns of behaviour.”

9. Embrace a bias toward action, a “Do Something” Mindset.

“The first step towards being creative is often simply to go beyond being a passive observer and to translate thoughts into deeds.”

10. Start Designing Your Life

“Do field research on yourself, looking for unmet needs in your own daily routine. Generate ideas about what changes in your behavior might be viable, feasible, and desirable. What improvements can you quickly prototype, test, and iterate? Work within constraints. Choose actions you can take right now that add meaning to your own life.”



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  1. Pingback: Writer’s Block | Beto's Blog

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