7 Ways Successful Creatives Think Differently than Unsuccessful Ones

I have worked with authors for more than three decades. I have also worked with speakers, recording artists, and other creatives. I have had the privilege of working with the best—and the challenge of enduring the worst. Ninety percent fall somewhere in the middle.

One Lit Light Bulb Among Many Unlit Ones - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/mbortolino, Image #10874645

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/mbortolino

What separates them is not talent. Surely, this plays a role. But it doesn’t fully explain why some creatives with marginal talent become successful and others with extraordinary talent never really make it. (I could name names, but I would get myself in trouble on both counts!)

Instead, I think the determining factor is to be found in how they think. Successful creatives think differently than unsuccessful ones. This is evident in seven ways.

  1. Successful creatives think big. The best creatives think, “Go big or go home.” If they are going to go to the trouble of writing a book, preparing a speech, or recording an album, they might as well make the biggest impact they can. They aren’t naive about the amount of work it will take, but they still dream big. They are always asking, “What could we do that would exceed everyone’s expectations?”
  2. Successful creatives take responsibility. The best creatives take responsibility for the outcome. They don’t expect someone else to make them famous or successful, though they realize they can’t succeed without others. They own their work and accept responsibility for how it is received by the market.
  3. Successful creatives listen well. The best creatives are not know-it-alls. They understand that being good at one thing (e.g., writing, speaking, or singing) doesn’t mean they are good at everything (e.g., packaging or marketing). As a result, they listen to those who have more experience. Ultimately, this raises their probability for success.
  4. Successful creatives seek help. While the best creatives accept ultimate responsibility for the outcome, they enroll everyone they can to help them succeed. They understand they can’t do it alone. As a result, they build a world-class team around them. They are constantly asking, “Who else can I enroll to help get me where I want to go.”
  5. Successful creatives work hard. The best creatives are not lazy. They don’t assume that their work is done once the book is written, the speech prepared, or the album recorded. In a real sense, their work has only just begun. They don’t display a spirit of entitlement. Instead, they roll up their sleeves and do the work that lesser creatives are unwilling to do.
  6. Successful creatives remain humble. The best creatives know that success is illusive and fragile. They know that they didn’t attain it on their own, nor will they preserve it on their own. This makes them grateful and humble. Though they face the same temptations to become arrogant, they understand the dangers and comport themselves accordingly.
  7. Successful creatives give praise. The best creatives take all the responsibility and little of the credit. They are quick to give that away to the numerous people who helped them get where they are. These creatives are especially good at praising in public and shining the spotlight on others.

The bottom line is that you have more control over your success than you may think. However, you must develop a winning mindset and cultivate the habits of successful thinking. This is what separates the best creatives from all others.

Question: Which of these habits do you need to work on? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://paulcoughlin.com Paul Coughlin


    Close to my heart.. Jay Niblick created the Genius Project, a 7 year 200,000 person study across 23 countries – of the very top performers across a broad selection of industries. Jay’s company Innermetrix is a psychometric profiling company amongst other thing,  – they measure talent and non-tangible competencies such as creativity and innovation, people skills etc.

    The findings were fascinating.. the key factors in the success of the top level performers was not their talent. It was two acquired skills – 1. Self-awareness. 2. Authenticity to that self-awareness. Successful people think differently.

    Sir Ken Robinson in “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything” comes up with a similar finding – true fulfilling ‘Genius’ success is more about being true to yourself – which of course is about your natural talents and passions.. but we are all a talented at something.. Successful people think differently.

    Of course, there’s the old time classic by Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich, which really talks about success being primarily down to the way you think – your mindset. Successful people think differently.

    What I love about all of this, is that we can acquire this skill of thinking differently.

    Of those points – I think “Successful Creative Ask For Help” is the one to work on for me. Partly because I love to think creatively and so it’s often an internal process, with ideas sometimes seeming to come through me and from me..

    But then an idea in itself isn’t of much value, until we create something from it. It’s also a common experience that when we create a Mastermind group – fora  creative purpose, the result is much more than the sum of the parts – a different kind of creativity shows up – a co-creative creativity :-)  the best type..

    Loved this Post Michael,

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Paul, for the additional content and validation. I have been meaning to read Sir Ken Robinson’s book.

      • http://paulcoughlin.com Paul Coughlin

        My pleasure Michael – it’s a great book – Sir Ken has brilliant insights into creativity, and especially around reforming the education systems to raise the profile and importance of creativity..

        I think what I love most about true creativity, is that it springs from the heart, often carried on the wings of passion, beyond the intellect, and is therefore very much a part of who we are, as opposed to something we do, or think..

        I believe people are influenced and inspired more by who we are, rather than what we do, say or think..

    • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

      What a great point! It’s all in the thought process. Abraham Lincoln is a perfect example. His passion for good government overcame all the failures he faced in the election process.

      • http://paulcoughlin.com Paul Coughlin

        Hey Gina.. yes, I agree. 

        This reminded me – I came across a great word the other day – ‘creationship’ – which is a step on from ‘relationship’  :-)

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Thanks, Paul, for the recommendation of “Element…” I remember when Michael interviewed Sir Ken Robinson. I thought about the book then but had forgotten about it.–Tom

      • http://paulcoughlin.com Paul Coughlin

        Hey Tom, yes – the video prompted me to check Sir Ken out.. actually it was those crazy statistics he mentioned in the video about how many people could live on earth that caught my attention.. then his work and his book..  definitely a good read..  cheers, Paul.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Paul, this was a great addition to the post… “Successful people think differently”… I totally agree.  I think Michael’s list spoke a bit to this, in that his list was about how successful creative DO things differently.  But the DOING only happens when the THINKING is different at the foundation.

      • http://paulcoughlin.com Paul Coughlin

        Thanks Robert..  yes, all begins with the thinking.. this stuff fascinates me :-)

  • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

    Maybe this is too obvious to be relevant, but you really could just do a Find and Replace on this post…Find “Creatives” and Replace with “People.”  Every single point you make here applies to all of us, regardless of our position on the creative spectrum, right?

    As a result, I see this as a very concise recipe for success in any circumstances.  Well done!

    • Joe Lalonde

      Thanks for pointing that out Chris. When I think about it, that is true. These traits apply to most success people in general.

  • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

    Mike, would you say they also focus on serving others? I ask because this has been a primary perception I’ve held of the most successful creatives. This aligns well with your point on humbleness but goes a step further. For example, they’re not in it for the money, fame or fortune, but with a primary focus on benefiting others through their creations.

    As for myself, I need to work on seeking help more regularly. I believe I do a good job of researching and teaching myself what I can, but it’s likely there are others, willing to help, of whom I should be enlisting more….

    Great post, thank you for sharing!

    • Anonymous

      Great point.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, Ben. That’s a great point. It is usually a part of #1. But thanks for calling that out.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Ben, I agree that most of them do focus on others. I think that by focusing on others, it attracts and makes others want to help them succeed.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Yes, a focus on others leads to making something that others will want/need, I think.  This is part of what makes them successful.  Unsuccessful creatives are those that are focused on themselves (what will I get out of this creation–money, fame, etc.), while the successful ones are others-focused (what can I create that others will get value from?).

  • Anonymous

    I need to work on #1.  Love the question,  “What could we do that would exceed everyone’s expectations?”

  • http://chrisvonada.com chris vonada

    Michael, I know for me that I’ at my best creatively when I focus on… just being me! This speaks directly to several of your points above, an excellent list and reminder. Thanks!!

  • http://www.paulbevans.com Paul B Evans

    Wow! You’ve could have also titled this… “The Seven Hardest Things for Creatives to Do!” :) “Successful” sets it apart and raises the bar.

    #3 is definitely my challenge.

    I’m working on that by…

    Using direct (not creepy) eye contact during conversations.
    Taking notes – especially on subjects I’m an idiot on.

    (Sorta strange, but people seem to take it as a compliment that I am jotting down things that they say – even though I know it’s from being unmedicated ADD survivor!)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have noticed this when I take notes, too. Plus, it helps me remember! Thanks.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Quick tip for making eye contact with people. Just make a mental note of their eye color. This forces you to look the other person in the eye without staring. Works well for mixers, meetings, and small groups.

      • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy


        I had never heard that before. I will have to test it out tomorrow. I hope I can do it without staring.


      • http://www.bradandlindsey.com Brad Bridges

        Another tip for making eye contact with people. Look at their eyelids rather than their actual eyes. It feels less awkward because you aren’t actually looking at their eyes but they can’t tell. Try it. 

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        I agree with Jim. I’ll try that out at church tomorrow morning. I could start with my wife tonight but I know her eye color already (learned that in year 3, and, yes, I’m kidding). She’d catch on pretty early and wonder what I was up to (not kidding on that one).

    • Joe Lalonde

      Paul, I struggle with the creepy eye contact thing. I like looking people in the eyes but I feel it can be creepy and makes the other person uncomfortable. I’m unsure of how to overcome it.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      I like to take notes on the subjects that I’m an idiot on, too.  I used to fool myself and tell myself, “I’ll definitely remember everything this person was saying.”  I’m not that young and foolish anymore :)

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    I need to work on developing habit #7: 

    Great post!

  • Anonymous

    This is a fantastic post, and a wonderful sharing of your experience with creatives. Thank you, Michael. For me, reading your words here has reminded me, and encouraged me to stretch a little more, and to keep seeking out great help. Thank you!

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    So, SO good. Amen and hallelujah to this. I think I struggle with ALL of these at different times. Although I do try to seek out help and to listen, but if I’m really being honest, most days I think I know what I need to do. I could be a LOT better at 4 and 6. Thank you for this, Mike!

  • Chrisjohnstoncoaching

    Hmmm.  A lot of that hit me below the belt.  Clearly I need to start working on some of these.  Especially seeking help and thinking big.  Thank you for the spark. 

  • Dejah

    SSuccessful creatives (and good editors) can spell elusive… and know how it differs from illusive… if that’s even a word.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, it is a word. According to dictionary.com: “producing, produced by, or based on illusion; deceptive or unreal.” But, honestly, I am not clear how this is different than “elusive.” They seem to be synonyms. Several online sources distinguish between the two, but I can’t find a clear usage guide.

      • http://paulcoughlin.com Paul Coughlin

        I had to look those up..

        Seems illusive refers to not being real. So it can be clearly perceived, but false. The focus is true/false.

        Elusive refers to being unclear. So it is real(true) but not clearly perceived. The focus is clear/unclear…

      • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

        I lean toward elusive as being just beyond the grasp, or just out of reach, or like something that is “just on the tip of my tongue”; not being understood perfectly. Whereas, illusive is more scuttling and similar to lying, slight of tongue such as not telling all the truth or that portion of truth that leads to the wrong conclusion.

        I love how so many people got so many different things from this post. People (and words) are so much fun!

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          I agree…

    • Matt

      Bet they can spell ssuccessful, too.

      Seriously though, as dear as spelling is to my heart, the most successful people I know can’t spell, or perhaps choose to not get bogged down in the finer points of things. 

      • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

        There were those who focused on spelling and penmanship in school, and others who became successful.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Glad you raised the question in everyone’s mind. It made me take a look as well at the definitions (both as shared by others here and on WordWeb).

  • http://markjmartin.com Mark Martin

    Very helpful advice.  I needed this today also.  Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/MeredithMBell Meredith Bell

    Outstanding list, Mike. Like Chris Patton, I felt these factors could apply to everyone. I was imagining many leaders and entrepreneurs as I read them. 

    #1 is my challenge. I like to believe I think BIG but I recognize I could expand that by 10x or 100x and not be outrageous.

    Thank you for this valuable list.

    • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

      Meredith, this is my problem, too. I think BIG when developing a project, but when it comes to execution, I tend to call it “being realistic” when actually I’m questioning my ability to follow through withe the BIG.

  • http://twitter.com/musbkc musbkc

    Wow Michael, thanks for this post.

    I absolutely needed this right now.  Been beating myself up for not being where I would like to be.  But knew there were missing pieces to that puzzle.

    Items 1 & 5 are the weak spots for me.  Dreaming big has always scared me, because I see lack of resources, help and time.  But dreaming big means having the vision to see what’s not there and work towards it.  Hence the issue with working hard, I shy away from that so I can “justifiably” avoid disappointment.

    Thanks for this list.  It’s going on my wall right now . . . not gonna shrink back now!

  • Anonymous

    This would make a good list for What Makes an Excellent Leader as well.  For me I endeavor to do all of the above and know I will always have to work on each area.  I cannot one day think, “Okay, I’ve achieved (fill in the blank) so I can relax now”.  If I do that I will be moving backwards instead of forwards.  I don’t even want to stand still, I want to keep moving forward!  Thanks for the list, it’s good advice!  

  • http://twitter.com/chrisrwesley Chris Wesley

    I need to seek more help.  I feel that I can figure a lot on my own, but getting to that next level or overcoming a wall I need to seek guidance.  There is an intimidation of coming off inferior or stupid.  It’ s a fear I need to hand to God and trust He’ll surround me with the right people.
    Thanks for the tips and insights.

  • http://twitter.com/RookieWriter David Barry DeLozier

    Listening.  I always have room for improvement at listening.
    Great post.

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

    I agree, but it’s easier said than done!  

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Great post, Michael. I struggle with number four. I try and do everything myself. Some things I’m good at, but others I’m mediocre at best. I’ve set myself a goal to outsource some of these inefficient things to others by the end of the year. My biggest struggle is to find people that I trust and that truly have greater talent than I do. It’s hard to spend money with someone that treats you like a number or doesn’t have a good track record. 

    For example, take investing or seo web design. These are both areas that most people struggle with. Unfortunately there are a lot of companies that will take your money and do an inferior job. Track records and outcomes are real important here. I’m learning that spending money with the right people can have incredible benefits. It’s finding the truly exceptional people that is the battle.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep, I agree. This is indeed the challenge.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      I agree, John.  But sometimes, while you may be able to do something better than someone else, it either (a) takes you twice as long to do it, and therefore isn’t a great use of your time, or (b) you’re obsessing over making it perfect, which is why you do it so much better.

      Sometimes, hiring someone to do it OK is better than doing it yourself perfectly.

  • Bonnie Clark

    “The best creatives know that success is illusive and fragile” – this reminds me of a quote from a basketball coach I knew:

    Fame is vapor,
    Popularity is an accident,
    And money has wings.
    The only thing that endures is character.

    Lots to strive for in this post for sure.  Thanks!

    • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

      That sounds like something Solomon would say :)

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Great quote!  I added that to Evernote so I can revisit it later!

  • @willardheath

    Love the post. Have you ever elaborated on what “success” actually is in the world of creatives?

    I wonder how many people hit the eject button way to quickly because they are striving for a definition of success that isn’t realistic. Instead of adjusting their aim, they simply give up.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I haven’t, but I think this is something you have to measure for yourself. It has to be your definition of success rather than someone else’s.

    • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

      Willard, your point intrigues me. Some people would claim that adjusting the aim (or goal) would be an automatic failure, while others would see it as wisdom in adversity. Your statement is worthy of study. Thank you.

  • http://www.icubook.wordpress.com Mischelle007

    I need to working on let others do the things that I cannot. The trouble always seems to be a budget issue. Thankfully, there is so much free advice and training from others now that the Internet is the mainstream.

    Thanks for all you contribute to the online knowledge base.www.reformed-health.comwww.icubook.wordpress.com

  • http://stephenalynch.tumblr.com Stephen Lynch

    I struggle with dreaming big and the balance of working hard but still seeking help from others. Dreaming big is a habit; for every idea I have now, I think of what would take it to the next level. Intentionally pushing my mind to not settle.

    There are times I would rather have a veteran hand come in and complete a task rather than begin the learning curve that is real experience. The balance is choosing when to learn by DIY, learn from observing the veteran in action, and delegating the task completely to the expert. I try to avoid #3 for it does not help me grow as much as #1 and #2.

  • Jrbdanish58

    Number one is where I need to improve. I once heard it said ” If the dream is big enough, the facts don’t matter”. I do better, but need to do “bigger”. Thanks for the posting, it made me realize that I do have some of the needed qualities. It was encouraging.

  • Lisa S

    Absolutely what I needed to hear today! Thank you!

  • Sabrina

    One of the things I do with certain posts of yours is cut and paste them into a document and print them so I can put them up on my office wall–particular posts are helpful to look at daily to keep me on point with the topic you’ve written about that day. With that said, I wonder if you have a print icon I’m missing somewhere so I can save myself a step. It would be great if I’m just blind and there’s one there already. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, check out the bottom of the post where it says, “Share and Enjoy,” last icon on the right. Thanks.

  • David

    Fantastic piece!  The thing that strikes me on this is that I’m at heart a creative, but have been toiling in a cubicle job having given up my art.  I’ve let fear take hold of the place in heart that creative passion formerly resided and have not focused on points 4 & 5 – seeking help and working hard.  Thank you, Michael – you are right, I do have more control over my success than I think.

  • http://www.hope101.net Lori Boruff, Hope101.net

    Great checklist Michael. I struggle with #4, seeking help. I know people are busy and I hate to bother them or expect them to get excited about my dream when people have their own dreams. Does that make sense?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, it does. But you have to remember that almost everyone dreams about helping people. Maybe you are the person they dream about helping. Just a thought.

  • Julie Barnhill

    Bullseye. Again.  I posted to my 21-year old Marine son’s FB Wall. He’s got the thinking/dreaming BIG down, onward to tackling a few of those other points. 

  • http://www.mattmacdonald.ca Matthew MacDonald

    you could probably sub the word “creatives” for “people” i.e “Successful PEOPLE work hard, seek help, remain humble, take responsibility, etc”


  • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

    This is so true, JM. In sales the ratio of “no” to “yes” was at least 4 to 1, the average was 10 to 1. If a person would focus on the no-s, then it would be so easy to fall into a great depression. Realizing the “no” was not a personal rejection was the way to overcome it. Your advice to “retool, re-strategize andre-brand” is most excellent!

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    I need to work on the “thinking big” part. There are days I do and days I don’t. Some days I dream big, but then I see the tasks ahead of me and feel defeated. But, that’s where I’m learning my feelings don’t dictate my actions. I decide to go forth anyway. God gives me a kick in the pants to get my groove back on. 

  • Suzanne Talbot

    Great Points…determine your why!  Being Creative comes naturally…Keep Life Simple! Love the Lord and Serve Others through the gifts God blessed you with! Determine your passion and discover your purpose and give the rest to God. Live expectantly and grateful everyday. Stay focused and conscious of the deposits God places in front of you. Make adjustments and keep stepping forward. Understand your past but don’t dwell in it. Stay positive and do what is right. Today is your BEST day. Thank you Michael for sharing your gifts with this creative!

  • Spencer McDonald

    An outstanding and thought provoking post. Thank you Michael.

    Certainly I am not 100% on any of these buckets. Yes, I pictured them as gas gages as I was reading. Some where over half full and some were near empty. That is no fault but my own. So the question of which one needs the most gas in the tank would be number one. 

    If I stop and really listen through the fog and clutter of my mind I can hear reality. Reality is saying, Spence you have some fear. That fear is holding you back. Stop it. This causes me to think small so that I never make a a major mistake that I will have to live with the rest of my life. It is pride that holds me back. Well, that and some A.D.D.

    I will be capturing this post in Evernote and printing out for my office wall. Every day I will reflect on full gas tanks for all seven and work intently on number one. 

    Thanks Michael.

  • BethMcKamy

    #1 & #5  Both because of fear! Fear of not being good enough, fear of the process and fear of the outcome. Fear makes me a procrastinator, which in turn means I’m not working as hard as I should.

    Thanks for the post!

  • Rich Procter

    I got a lot out of this post! I have a hard time with the “think big” part, but I’m working on it. Lots of irony here — seems to me you need a lot of “Onward Through the Fog” believe-in-yourself-even-when-others-don’t attitude…which could conflict with the (essential) qualities of humility and listening to others. Everything in balance, I guess.

    Anyway, I’ve been stalled on a book project — reading this has motivated me to push forward!

  • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

    This is an encouraging yet challenging post. Many of these thoughts are not new to me, or to many others. It’s one thing to know something, but it’s another to live according to the pattern you just described, Michael.

    I would like to add one more characteristic that is critical for being successful creatives. They are capable of tolerating ambiguity. The creative process is not well laid out ahead of time. Even if we have a bodacious or grand vision, the steps are usually unclear. Being able to tolerate ambiguity is important for staying the course.

    Coach Theresa

  • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

    Gina, Sometimes we have to stick to the BIG vision no matter what. This is about perseverance and passion. Other times, we have to adjust the vision to accomplish what is possible at the moment. This is about wisdom. I’m not sure if there is a hard and fast rule for every situation though.

  • http://www.tonyjalicea.com Tony J. Alicea

    I’m still learning to think big. Part of my inability to think big is ignorance. Sometimes I don’t even know what is possible. Surrounding myself with the right people helps me broaden my horizons on what’s possible. Then I can dream beyond it.

  • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

    Excellent post, as usual! I really struggle with number 4. I have a hard time knowing how to draw others around me into the creative process and investing in something I believe in. I struggle with feeling like I’m being a burden. But I’m working on it and learning it’s all about give and take.

  • http://www.invigoratelifecoaching.com Jennie Turton

    Michael, I love what you said about successful creatives “working hard.” As a Life Coach, I have a desire to not only help more people by one-on-one coaching but also through writing books and other curriculum pieces. I think it’s easy to see the writing projects as the major investment. It’s good to be reminded that success requires ongoing, committed, consistent effort. It is not easily gained and very quickly lost. Thanks for your words of wisdom!

  • http://twitter.com/LaureeAshcom Lauree Ashcom

    thinking big is the thing that gives me the most trouble…. i have always seen myself as a realist but what i really am is afraid. lately i have had a huge, scary hunger to really dream big and go after the thoughts that i have tried to keep stuffed back….. posting this here is one step toward freedom.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am writing a post on just this point. If I finish, it will go up tomorrow. Thanks.

  • MPG

    Great post! I would note that the common thread running through the entire “seven way” (creatives think) is humility. Very instructive. Again, thanks.

  • Isokari

    I think I have to work on the habit of listening.  Good work and thinking Michael.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Great stuff.  I’m reading The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry right now.  There is so much truth in what he says, and what you’ve listed here, that I can see in my life and work.
    Thanks for posting!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Thanks for the suggestion Jeff. I will be looking for it.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        No problem!  I really enjoyed it! 

  • wikiriki

    All of these seven ways are right on target. Some good one in the comments below too. Great post, Michael! Thanks!

  • wikiriki

    Where’s the edit button?

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    I think I struggle with thinking big. I tend to focus on all the little details which makes “big” look impossible. I know I’m only limited by myself, the skys the limit!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      In tomorrow’s post, I will cover a seven-step process for learning to think big. Stay tuned.

      • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

        I can’t wait!

  • Dan

    Hmmm.  Substitute leader for creative and you hit another home run! 

    I always get a lot out of your writing.

  • Anonymous

    I think asking for help would be my biggest downfall. I have a hard time with this on all levels…some independent streak in me that God is tearing down. It’s not always a pleasant experience, but very necessary. I just need to do it: ask for help and seek ways of how people can help me. =)

  • http://somewiseguy.com ThatGuyKC

    I think I do most of these pretty well, but I have trouble with #1. I work hard and am ready to dream big, I just don’t know what my dream is yet.

    I’m close though.

  • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

    “Seeking help” used to be a tough one for me. I was always the “go it alone” type. Heck, to this day I feel like that sometimes. But really, entrusting in others, and not being afraid to ask for help can be just what you need to launch you forward. 

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  • http://twitter.com/johnlambert John Lambert

    Sounds like the best creatives have Godly virtues operating in their life!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep. I think so.

  • http://twitter.com/harmlessjoyce Joyce Elferdink

     I often fail at listening well and asking for help. They seem to be related because if I don’t ask for help, I have no one to listen to…

    I worked for a year on revisions to my manuscript, then found a Writers Group to provide honest feedback.  It seems like I wasted the last year trying to fix my work by myself. Listening to their no-nonsense reproofs/suggestions is painful but so necessary for improving my work.

    Maybe the difficulty of listening to people who disagree but may have answers is the reason our world seems to change so slowly where systems are obviously broken.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      difficulty of listening to people who disagree but may have answers — That really requires maturity from our end.

  • http://bit.ly/gwalter gwalter

    “Successful creatives think big.”  

    “Go big, or go home.”

    Before I was married and had kids, this wasn’t so much a problem.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Raising great kids that make a contribution IS a big dream for many. I can’t imagine anything more important.

  • http://www.bradandlindsey.com Brad Bridges

    I love the way your article challenges some stereotypes/assumptions about creatives (lazy, no follow-through, etc). It was refreshing in one sense to read your positive perspective but challenging in another sense to ask myself which of these areas (if not all) I need to begin working on personally to be a higher performing creative.

    However I believe the highest performing creatives influence others and praise others for their contributions (numbers 6 and 7 in your article) to create “movements.” In all reality, we’ve all benefited from others believing in us or influencing us to think differently than we had previously. 

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    The list not only applies to successful creatives but also to successful accounting & auditing professionals like me. I have seen many evading responsibility whenever things go wrong.

  • http://twitter.com/MusicPowerStrat MusicPoweredStrategy

    Of all the points in the article the one that stands out the most is the first.  I think too often we limit ourselves and don’t think big enough.  To think what people could do if they weren’t limited by their doubts, fears, or other people.  This reminds me of Seth Godin’s recent book, “Poke the Box”, which has been a great encouragment to me in this area.

    One other thing I would add to the list is the passion that creatives, or successful people, have for their purpose.  They may not be the most brilliant or most talented but their passion drives their thinking and determination as well.

    Thanks for the great article!


    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      “the passion that creatives, or successful people, have for their purpose. ” That’s absolutely true.

  • John Doherty

    I think this post is spot-on, Michael. I’ve been reading Tony Hsieh’s (CEO of Zappos) book Delivering Happiness recently. The trait I see in him that enabled him to succeed is to keep trying, and to learn from his mistakes. Yes he has a natural insight into how ventures will work out, but he learns from his failures and never stops trying.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Yup! That was indeed a great read Doherty.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidBDykstra David B Dykstra

    Great article Michael, as always! I think I might add “Ask questions.” Everyone likes to feel like they can be the expert, and people are more open to new ideas if they feel like they were involved in the process. Actually, I guess that falls squarely under getting help.

  • http://www.angelakroe.com Angela K Roe

    I love this list and as an author, I hope I live up to it!

  • Kirsten

    So true! I have trouble with dreaming big and it’s really irritating me! I’m trying to spend more time with successful people to inspire me.

  • sarmistha tarafder

    Great, great article! Thank you.

    Reminds me of  Lao Tzu’s 
    Duality and the Wise Man’s Office

    Since the world points up beauty as such,

    There is ugliness too.

    If goodness is taken as goodness,

    Wickedness enters as well.

    For is and is-not come together;
    Hard and easy are complementary;
    Long and short are relative;
    High and low are comparative;
    Pitch and sound make harmony;
    Before and after are a sequence.

    Indeed the Wise Man’s office
    Is to work by being still
    He teaches not by speach
    But by accomplishment;
    He does for everything,
    Neglecting none;
    Their life he gives to all,
    Possessing none;
    And what he brings to pass
    Depends on no one else.
    As he succeeds,
    He takes no credit
    And just because he does not take it,
    Credit never leaves him.


    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Thanks for sharing this beatiful passage Saramistha!

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  • Seasalt44

    This is true for anything you do in life. Find God’s plan, work on it and sustain it with His help. Don’t forget those who have blessed you, encouraged you and supported you in other ways. Life is not about you and we must not forget it.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Think big and seek help. I don’t know what “think big” looks like (or maybe I do and it frightens me–“I could never do that”). I hope “seek help” doesn’t come off as arrogance–“I don’t need no help. I’m plum smart enough.” It’s not arrogance as much as caution. I don’t want to appear pushy. I need help and plenty of it.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    I think seeing failure as a part of the natural process, not that a person seeks failure but he doesn’t fear it either, helps the person move forward and improve his chances for success. It’s the ability to cycle through failure-reflection-new direction-repeat until the goal is reached that makes the difference.

  • Sweetie

    I think successful creatives also know that they do not necessarily think like the known models, but they learn to understand that to succeed in business they may need to learn the skills of marketing via known models with their own particular abilities and talents.  Successful creatives are willing to pay the price of being themselves yet teachable and open to the requirements that a successful business calls for when it comes to activities that do not forfeit their originality.

  • Joe Lalonde

    I feel I struggle with number 7. It’s not that I don’t like to acknowledge others, I just have trouble acknowledging the good in others.

  • Joe Lalonde

    Good point to add FemmeFuel! So many people get derailed when something goes wrong and they encounter failure. The successful person usually plods on with his business.

  • http://twitter.com/jerburroughs Jeremy Burroughs

    Seeking help and remaining humble are two of the things I have to constantly do. I have noticed that they reinforce each other as well. As I seek help and realize the competency and expertise of others, I remain humble. Additionally, as I seek to humble myself before God, he points out how much I need others’ help in my life. 

  • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

    They’re not deterred by failure, but they learn from failure.

  • Dingheng0932

    I will continue to pay attention!

  • Joven Baloyo

    I was thinking of the biblical Joseph, Joshua, and Jesus’ disciples who were inspired of their Master’s resurrection, most of what you stated, if not all, were characterized in them. Thanks for sharing, I was inspired this morning.

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  • Myworld30

    I fit all of the 7qualities but I lack finish. I start writing and get half way there STOP? I feel as though once it’s done no one will really like it. Until I watch a horrible movie…I say to myself I know I can do better than that. Mrs. Procrastinator ;(

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      True! Consistency and discipline is a real challenge in everyone’s life.

  • Officialbsj

    Let me be the first to say that I am GUILTY on ALL counts. I have also taken for granted that because I can produce a 300 page manuscript in 6 days or write a screenplay in a night that I’m on the upper side of wonderful. I realise that this is not really the case because once you assume entitlement based on talent you negate the hard work of the millions of talented people who got down and dirty in the pursuit of their dreams. In one of my books I say that ‘your dreams will happen to other people while you’re sleeping’. From your post I would add that your dreams will happen to less talented people even if you’re awake, if you’re not prepared to work.

    Thanks for yet another reality check Michael. The bites are going to leave a nasty mark on my ‘you know what’!

    You are appreciated.


    Byron Sasha Jones

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Producing a 300 page manuscript in 6 days or writing a screenplay in a night – That is awesome Jones.

  • Heatherls

    I have a hard time knowing where to look for help.

    Michael,  I am new to your posts and  find them pure gold.  I’m a full time mother who hopes one day to be published.  My passion is India.  While visiting  Andrah Pradesh a couple of years ago I became fascinated by the true life story of a Dalit woman (untouchable) who accomplished things far beyond anyone’s expectations.  In the place where she once tried to take her own life, there now stand a school and a hospital whose beginnings she is responsible for.  I am writing in my spare time and will follow your advice as I try to connect with an agent.  I need an editor, and do not wish to self-publish.  Any advice from ya’ll would be appreciated!  Thank you for your generosity, Michael.
    Heather S.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Your passion is India! Good to hear from you Heatherls

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  • HDFlanagan

    I found your point about seeking help to be the most interesting one on the list, since I think a common perception of being creative is going it alone and just being gifted. A good reminder that being creative isn’t enough to be successful.

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  • http://thegoosesquill.wordpress.com/ Kerry Gans

    I need to work on #1 – thinking big. Getting past the impulse to be modest is hard! I am very happy to see that the other 6 points come more easily to me!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anna-Marie-Oftelie-Sheffield/1619365610 Anna Marie Oftelie Sheffield

    The hardest of these, for me, is the first one: Think big.  I am going to give this some serious thought and prayer.  Thank you for your wonderful blog!  I have already had more traffic to my blog by your suggestions about a good headline.  Blessings! Anna Marie

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Anna Marie, I agree. Thinking big is hard, especially as we get older. Our friends and family start telling us to be realistic and rethink the big goals and plans. Yet without these thoughts we become stagnant.

      And congrats on increasing the traffic to your blog! That is great work.

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  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/auntiesworkshop Auntie

    Successful Creatives Seek Help:  This one is my weakest area.  It’s not that I don’t want help.  It’s just that I’ve sought several areas to try to get help and support, but it’s just not working.

  • Raunak Agarwal

    who to start thinking different

    • http://www.etsy.com/shop/auntiesworkshop Auntie


  • Arvind

    Hi, I am Arvind, I just gone through this website and really the points above has given is very helpful for me, I am always thinking that how the people become successful and the above points given me the overview amount to be successful.

  • Brenda Yoder

    Thinking big. It somehow seems prideful or not practical. But I receive the admonishment.

  • Anmol

    I need to work on all!

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  • Zeta amine

    Successful thinking involves passion too!

  • kunal singh

    Good article. Helps me. But how to develop these thinking would be a big thing.