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Fix What’s Not Broken

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There’s an old saying that I don’t agree with: “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” While I understand the sentiment behind this statement, I don’t agree with it when it's applied to creativity and innovation. There are plenty of inventions, products, and ideas that aren’t broken; they are still working and thriving to this day. But here’s the thing: they might not be broken, but they definitely aren't perfect.

This is exactly why so many people are trying to make a better wallet. Visit the Kickstarter website any day of the year, and you are likely to find at least two or three people trying to create a better wallet. The prevalence of wallet projects on Kickstarter is so interesting that an article was recently written about it. Writer Nitsuh Abebe examines the wallet trend and attempts to explain the phenomenan. Basically it all comes to down to wanting something better and different.

Traditional wallet designs still work and are by no means “broken”, but there are plenty of people out there (myself included) who think that it can be done better.

What does this mean for you and I as creative individuals? It's a challenge. This year, find something that isn't broken and fix it. (Tweet this) It could be the leadership structure in your business, the creative process you go through to find new ideas, or even the way you make your morning coffee. There's one thing that stands in the way of progress though...

Contentment and Apathy

Some things are beyond our control, and we have to learn to be content; I get that. This doesn't mean that we should let contentment breed apathy. There's a big difference between the two, and it is important to grasp. Contentment finds peace in the problem, but apathy finds a home there. What starts out as contentment can become apathy if we're not careful. Over time we slowly begin to hunker down for the ride, believing that things will always be a certain way. When this begins to happen, apathy sets it; we begin to stop caring. This is dangerous. Instead, we need to realize that being content does not mean we have to stop caring.

There are plenty of things that need improving, but you have to be willing to break outside your routine and figure out what those things are. For me, I wanted a better wallet. The traditional bi-fold that I owned worked fine, but I hated how big it was in my pocket. I got so disgusted with it that I stopped carrying it around and simply kept my cards and bills in a rubberband. I was content, but I soon became apathetic. What was originally a temporary fix (the rubberband wallet) soon became a long term solution. Thankfully I was able to wake myself up out of my apathy and create a minimal leather wallet for myself.

Why You Should Do It

There are plenty of good products and ideas out there, but none of them are perfect. Get creative and figure out what needs improving. Find something that isn't broken and try to fix it. You'll probably get some critics ("Why try something new when the old thing works fine"?), but ultimately the only thing that matters is if the improvements will be beneficial to you. The minimal wallet sleeve that I made out of a small scrap of leather changed my life (albiet in a small way). Fixing my small problem was really the only reason I needed, and that's reason enough.

So, fix what's not broken. It might work well for some people, but if there is even a small change that can make it better, start there. It might be such a great improvement that it's worth sharing with others, and that would make it even more worth your while.

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This creativity tips comes from my upcoming e-book titled "Ex Materia: How to Be Creative in a World Where Nothing is New". If you're interested in more content like this, sign up for my newsletter to be notified about my book's release and future content. If you do, you'll be able to get exclusive access to the book before it is released publicly!

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