Wear The Right Hat
Years ago, I couldn’t seem to make any progress in my work. I tried to write blog posts, and after a few paragraphs, I would delete them entirely. I would try to come up with new marketing ideas, and minutes...
Years ago, I couldn’t seem to make any progress in my work. I tried to write blog posts, and after a few paragraphs, I would delete them entirely. I would try to come up with new marketing ideas, and minutes later, tear the idea apart. I would try to give life to a new project, and before I had time to get it off the ground, I had already dissected it to death.
What I realized after a lot of false starts and absolutely no progress in any area of my business was that I was trying to wear two hats at once.
If you’re in business, you wear two hats. Well, let’s be honest. You wear about 50 hats at any given time. But there are two hats in particular that I think we get confused. At least I certainly did.
The first hat you wear is your Creative Hat. Your creative hat is critical to the success of any business or idea. It helps you think outside the box, stand out among all of the noise and clutter, and solve problems in ways you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. If you’re a writer like me, your creative hat is what you wear in order to give life to the words on the paper. Your creative hat allows you to reach your audience in new ways. It helps you become a thought-leader, innovator and expert in your field. The creative hat is my favorite.
The other hat you need to wear to be successful is your Editing Hat. Your editing hat is also important, even though it’s not as fun in my opinion. Your editing hat makes your ideas better, your writing cleaner and your business stronger. Your editing hat weeds out the nonsense that you thought was brilliant when you were wearing your Creative Hat and allows you to only put out the really good stuff. In writing, it means deleting a lot of rambling and run-on sentences. It means poking holes (painful holes!) in your idea to make it better. In business, it means being objective and letting the best idea rise to the top, even if it’s not yours.
When you’re in business, you’ve got to wear both hats.
The problem is that most of us try to wear them at the same time.
When you try to wear both your Creative Hat and your Editing Hat at the same time like I did, you get what I got—false starts and zero progress. Before an idea even has a chance to breathe, you kill it. Before words even have a chance to settle on the page and find their home, you delete them.
You cannot simultaneously create and edit.
Even the meanings of the words are opposites. With creativity, anything goes. With editing, only the select things go. You cannot do both at once.
In attempting to weed out the bad stuff, you will also kill the seeds of great stuff at the same time. You’ll be left with a barren ground, blank page, and desperate blinking cursor. Your ideas will never see the light of day, and you’ll want to bang your head against your desk in frustration from never making any progress.
Instead, you need to wear your hats one at a time.
First, you wear your Creative Hat. When the Creative Hat is on, no idea is a bad idea. All words make it onto the page. All business ideas get saved on a restaurant napkin. Everything is worthy of consideration.
Then, you wait.
You save the draft or napkin, sleep on the idea, and spend some time with a new project. You just wait.
Then maybe after a day, a week, or even longer, you can revisit the idea with your Editing Hat on. With fresh eyes, a little space, a clear head and a new hat on, you can start to edit. You can carefully weed out elements that are unrealistic, words that are unnecessary, or details that may not be viable. But only with the Editing Hat on.
Don’t make the mistake that I did. Don’t try to wear both hats at once and steal your best ideas from yourself. They want so badly to come out—and the world needs them to come out.
Instead, take your time. Allow yourself the beautiful freedom to create, and then later you can edit. When you do this, you honor both necessary steps in the process of producing anything good in this world. You created it, and then you made it better.