On Wax Wings and Perfectionism, How DECSCI Changed my Creative Process

If I were to describe my creative processes, it would be like Icarus’ story. As Icarus dawns upon the horizon, clutching his improvised wax and feathered wings, he is first warned. Before taking the leap away from their prison, his father tells him that he should fly neither too low nor too high, lest the sea’s dampness clog his wings or the sun’s heat melt them. Bearing that in mind, he soars through and takes flight, and euphoria fills him. In turn, as the tale goes, his stubbornness to keep soaring meets the scorching rays of the sun, leading to his demise.

As such, whenever I do a creative project, I see it as an escape away from the monotony of reading papers and writing essays. Unlike Icarus, this is not the first time I am reminded to temper my ambition, yet in the end the “go big or go home” mentality prevails anyway. More often that not, in the end, it always ends up either excessively extra or lucratively lackluster, leaving me worn-out or unsatisfied. Being the stubborn person I am, this bad habit is kept and becomes ingrained within my system.

We could do better, but it works. Thus, when I learned I would be taking a class focused on the creative process and innovation thinking, I knew I had to change my game along the way. Needless to say, if there was a subject that would finally make me hit the wall, it was this one. Here’s what I learned.

  1. Temper Your Ego

Rooted in all this stubbornness, is a perfectionist trait. Although it is admirable to go for the extra mile, we should think twice if it goes more harm than good. As this course prompted an innovative solution to a wicked problem, I was easily prompted to think of an original, out of the world, outstanding solution that would disrupt everything. However, the course taught me that there is nothing new under the sun.

Rather than forcefully will yourself to create something out of thin air, I learned that a reliable stepping stone towards creativity would be changing the usual perspective and think of things in a different way. Thinking of a different angle is where your originality rather grows and to make it your own.

Through the narratives sought in the Customer Journey and Empathy Maps to the insights gained through the Six Hats Thinking and SCAMPER, these ideation tools allow us to branch our from what we know. Gaining more experiencing and exposing ourselves to new opportunities allows us to harvest what we learn and repurpose it to what we could be done instead.

II. Embrace your Limits

There is beauty in realizing a frame within what you can do, as it makes you think outside the box and prompt you to go further. In our project in particular, there were so many gaps that could be filled in, yet it was better to focus on one aspect of it and try to address all the problems there. In effect, and to our surprise, it branched out to actually solving more than the issues we had.

In particular, I fell in love with the Law of Diminishing Returns. In short, it shows that as time increase, the returns you gain from output actually decrease. As such, it extends as well to the limits you set yourself in creating an innovative solution.

There is such a thing as overpreparation, in the sense that your efforts in making perfect may actually lead to nothing. Instead of trying to go big and capture everything, start small and allow yourself to cover everything. In the same vein, we are better working together. The genius behind the IDEO Innovation company is how the different backgrounds of the different employees end up transcending those boundaries into creating innovative products.

III. Enjoy your Journey

The great thing about creative projects for me is the allowance of subjectivity in projecting our creative visions into life. It is easy to get caught up and be in your head to make a stellar creative output that would wow others. I would be lying if I said that the say of others holds little to how I value what I do.

Joseph Gordon Levitt shares in his TED-Talk how social media has primed our brains to weigh heavily on what others think on the things we do. I like to believe that in this Age of Information, social media prompts our generation to always put up flawless versions of ourselves to impress others.

Yet in creativity, I figure that it demands fortitude. The willingness to try something new and step out of the status quo, not for others, but for yourself. In truth, the disruptive changes that have happened throughout time happened not only for how it changed our world but completed its authors’ vision. After all, in the things we do, we imbue a part of us that edifies ourselves and what we do.

Echoing Alex McKechnie (exurb1a)’s video essay, we probably will not do something remarkable in our lifetime. In fact, the very people who we herald as great examples in their crafts felt lost and conflicted. As much as we love to romanticize tales of tragedy, we forget that a big part of its charisma is in their failures. As much as we love the dramatic appeal in seeing ourselves as a refugee riddled with tragedy; we do not have wax wings, we are not fleeing away Crete. We have the time to fail and try again and iterate our process into a vision. It does not matter how many times we failed in our creative pursuits, getting that creative vision come to life once is enough for our hearts to soar.