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Plans, Luck, Accidents, and Software Sales

July 14th, 2014
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“In creative endeavors, luck is a skill.”

So says Twyla Tharp, the dancer, choreographer, businesswoman, and author of the 2003 book “The Creative Habit – Learn it and use it for life.” She devotes a chapter of her book to recognizing accidents and mistakes, and turning them into creative successes.

It’s good to have a plan, Tharp insists. But it’s a mistake to over-plan. Learn to plan ahead, and to recognize great stuff when you discover it.

Tharp believes that you have to have a plan. But following it too closely will stifle creativity.

Some people deny that luck is a factor in their creativity because they want to take credit for all of their accomplishments.

Sometimes plans fail to achieve their desired results, for a number of reasons:

  • Other people get in the way of our plan.
  • Our plan isn’t perfect. Many people can’t get started until they have a perfect plan, and a perfect series of the precise steps to follow. Sometimes we just have to get started, even if we’re not perfectly prepared. Sometimes it’s a blessing to have very limited resources such as too little time or too little money.
  • The format of our plan is bad. Sometimes we fail because we’re trying to fit a new idea into an old pattern.
  • We have misplaced obligations. We’re under pressure to please somebody with bad ideas. Or we have to conform to the wishes of the person who’s in charge.
  • We have the wrong resources. We simply haven’t equipped ourselves with the tools that we need to carry out the plan. Sometimes, having too little time to accomplish something motivates us to run and get the job done.

This chapter has three exercises that are designed to increase our creativity. Tharp asks us to pick a fight with ourselves. Choose a presumption that we’ve been depending upon for the success of a project, and reject it. Dismiss it. Do the opposite. And derive ideas from the tension and conflict that you create.

In another exercise, Tharp tells us to get lucky by being generous to other people. In my opinion, that’s the fundamental principle of success in business – being generous to other people and forming lasting, mutually-helpful relationships with others in the industry.

In a third exercise, Tharp urges us to work with the best people available. Again, this is a great insight from an accomplished artist.

It’s hard to use a short blog posting to summarize an entire chapter in a book about creativity. I’d recommend that you add “The Creative Habit” to your bookshelf. Twyla Tharp is a creative person who can explain how each of us can become more creative. The book will help your microISV business and your software sales.

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