Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod, Portfolio, 176 pages, $23. 95, Hardcover, June 2009, ISBN 9781591842590 Creativity is a tough thing to dissect. Everyone has it.
Creativity is a tough thing to dissect. Everyone has it... Wait! Really? Is everyone creative? Are you? Is the person sitting in the next cubicle? Is your boss? More than likely, you don't truly believe that everyone is creative, but Hugh MacLeod does. He believes that there are two groups of people: the creative, and those who don't realize they're creative. MacLeod clarifies, "[I]f you don't see yourself as particularly creative, that's not reality, that's a self-imposed limitation. Only you can decide whether you want to carry that around with you forever. Life is short." Whichever group you are in, this book with the surprising title of Ignore Everybody brings everyone together as innovators, creating an alignment where real change can occur sooner than when relying on one group with the "creative" label to carry the load.
Not only is the title of MacLeod's book is surprising, but some pages contain business card-sized rectangles filled with scribbles and blunt, often profane, yet profound statements. Intriguing for a business book, to say the least. While the cards contain some messages that will likely make some people blush, every page is filled with insight into how to manage creativity; how to do whatever it is you do differently, creatively, and with powerful results. The keys MacLeod offers in Ignore Everybody don't so much tell you what to do, as they will make you think critically about what you do and how you do it; a refreshing change of perspective that's as smart as it is self-empowering. Statements like, "All existing business models are wrong. Find a new one." and "If your plan depends on suddenly being 'discovered' by some big shot, your plan will probably fail. Nobody suddenly discovers anything." open the door for people to take the next step.
One of MacLeod's great strengths is his ability to transcend the message beyond one audience channel. This isn't a book for business people; it isn't a book for artists or entrepreneurs; it's a book for everyone. Because creativity isn't just about drawing pictures or writing interesting things. Creativity is about how we approach situations, how we communicate, how we do business, and how we live our lives. If you take MacLeod's advice and shift your perspective away from becoming better in ways others expect, and instead "ignore everybody," tapping into your personal creativity to accomplish things that you may be good at (but might be afraid to try), then organizations will change, business will change, and your life will change—for the better.