NoHaving written the eBook "Taking the NO Out of InNOvation" and speaking on innovation and creativity topics for several years, I frequently hear about the impact of early NOs on people, especially those who tend to be perfectionists.

The Legacy of a NO to Creativity

When a perfectionist hears NOs about efforts where the rules used to judge an effort don't really have any lasting significance or a performance was actually fine (if perhaps not perfect) yet they were told it fell short, it can have creatively devastating impacts. This is especially true when the NO comes from an authority figure or is heard repeatedly.

What are the legacies of the “no” messages kids hear?

When a kid gets one of these life-changing messages that runs completely counter to Taking the No Out of InNOvation, they can start:

  • Avoiding situations where there is potential for rejection.
  • Taking the "no" to mean they are bad, unskilled, or presumptuous to ever think of themselves as special.
  • Undercutting expectations of themselves rather than celebrating what they can do and risk failing to meet expectations.
  • Only giving slight hints to their capabilities and hoping someone will ask them to do more.
  • Not going out on a limb in situations where they might disappoint someone important.
  • Trying fewer things in life - perhaps only those things where they know they'll be right.
  • Undervaluing their talents, causing them to wind up giving away too much of what they can do.
  • Delivering more than anyone can reasonably expect.
  • Remaining an "amateur" at many things because it's safer than concentrating on one area and standing apart from others.
  • Depending on others to push them into new situations.

Taking the NO Out of InNOvation Later

It's vital that parents, educators, and other authority figures in kids' lives be tremendously careful: Make sure you aren't doling out creative rejections or even imposing your own apprehensions about perfectionism and creative success on the kids in your lives.

Your "NO" today can have an impact on killing creativity for years to come. - Mike Brown


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