I had tea with my friend Joey the Cat today. He's the number one ranked skeeball player in the US and has a small skeeball empire of his own, refurbishing machines, and then renting them out or reselling them. He told me about a skeeball trailer he made-- two skeeball lanes that you can pull behind a car and bring anywhere you want.
On the surface, this isn't that big of a deal. It's a trailer and there are a couple skeeball machines on it. If it passed you on the highway you'd notice it and maybe comment on it, but it probably wouldn't have much significance to you. And really, the actual construction of the trailer wasn't that big of a deal. Some measuring, some screws, and some bolts, and you're done.
So why am I writing about it?
Well, it's not the execution or even the existence of the trailer that's interesting to me. I like the gumption behind it. Joey wanted a skeeball trailer, and so he created one. Before knowing if it would even work, he paid $1000 for a trailer. Then he attached the skeeball machines. Then he drove it across the Bay Bridge to see if it would actually hold up to the abuse of the road. He had no template for building something like this and no idea if it would work or not, but he took the risks and did it anyway.
Joey is a creator, which makes him a member of a rare breed. I'm a creator, too, so growing up I always assumed that everyone was the same way. Occasionally I'd be surprised when someone was presented with a good opportunity to create and didn't take it, but it never struck me as more than a fluke. Now that I have better perspective, I'd say that no more than one out of every hundred people is a creator. Maybe even one in a thousand or less-- it's hard to estimate.
What's the opposite of a creator? I'd say an assembler. Someone who executes, but only in ways that have been done before. Their life is built very similarly to other people's lives, their work resembles other people's work, and when confronted with a problem, they either use an existing solution or live with the problem.
If you're not a creator, this post isn't really for you. I mean, I think it would be good for the world if I could somehow convert you, but in my experience the dichotomy between being a creator and a assembler is so deep-rooted that a blog post probably won't make a dent. This post is for the creators.
If you're a creator and you have a normal non-creative job, that is a tragedy. Whether by nature or nurture, you have the rare gift and inclination of being able to create things. Most people don't have this. If you've taken a while to realize this, as I did, look around you and observe how people interact with the world. How many are creating now? How many have EVER created? As a creator, it's sort of shocking when you realize that most people have never made anything new in their entire lives. You have this gift, and you should use it.
Being able to transform something from a foggy speck of an idea into a concrete manifestation of vision is an awesome power. It's how the world grows and it's how individuals, both creators and assemblers, become enriched. Think of where the world would be if there were no creators. That's not to downplay the role of the assemblers, of course. In order to earn a living, they end up collaborating with the creators, and in the end result in creating a great deal of value. The world needs both.
The reason I write about creators, though, is because there are a lot of creators stuck in the role of assembler. Instead of embracing who they are at the core, creating, and taking the risks and the rewards that come with the territory, they take a job. Creators generally don't make the greatest employees, but they can get the job done, because, after all, they're adaptable. But this is a waste-- the supply of creators is very limited, and their talent is squandered when they aren't creating.
Interestingly, there has never been more pressure to NOT be a creator, nor has there been a better time to be one. Tools like 3D printing, programming, and platforms like kickstarter make it possible to be a creator on any scale, and yet society becomes more and more homogenized towards assembly and cookie-cutter jobs. So this is a call to creators-- if you are one, now is your time. Get creating.
Photo is from the Salcantay trail in Peru.
Heading to Mexico for cave diving on Wednesday. Going to try to go to Cuba, too!