Continuous Evolution

“Creativity” is an inevitable requirement for all successful work, whether visual, technical, mathematical, or otherwise. At the root, it is most simply problem solving. To produce concrete results that solve problems and enhance the world–creativity that you can define as “successful”–you must push the boundaries of your mind’s creativity and intellectual capabilities.

The typical response for fueling creativity is to seek external inspiration. In theory, it sounds good. Pinterest has made billions off of luring people into this activity. However, there is a downfall. For every minute you are trying to find “inspiration” from other people’s work, you are not progressing your own work (or helping the human race). Evolution comes from both internal pressures and from external information. While external input is not poison, it is an abundant source of distraction.

Years of my life have been spent feeling “uninspired,” realizing that the only key to resolving this feeling was to make work regardless of being inspired or not. Creation is the ultimate cure for lack of inspiration, and the key to a life of positive personal continuous evolution.

In the engineering and software development world, the concept of Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment, abbreviated CI/CD, have become extremely mature practices. As well, iterative development patterns have proven to be very successful. We have a plethora of tools that make code integration and deployment simple. However, our mindset for a similar streamlined and optimized approach, for personal growth, seems to have fallen in the wake of the infinite streams of information that the app world has supplied us.

On a personal level, our expectations for evolution are quite egotistical and short-sighted. These days most humans expect information consumption to be a substitution for action, instead of a supplement to personal development. And more so, most people do not have a plan in place for Continuous Evolution. It’s becoming less necessary: the modern world is alleviating our greatest problems, making the pressure to solve real and hard problems decline at a dramatic rate. Dreams of a more evolved life are hard to conjure when the most detrimental problems are already solved for you.

My friend Scott Berkun says it well in his unreleased, upcoming book The Dance of The Possible:

… Ten thousand years ago people were too busy solving real problems in their lives to worry much about how to label those solutions, or what to call the people who made them. They also made art and music for their own pleasure, but didn’t worry much about what to call that either, they just went and did it because they wanted to. Even the masters of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment didn’t talk much about brainstorming exercises or ideation methods, which makes the obsession the largely non-creative business world has with these subjects suspicious indeed.

We can learn three simple rules from our ancestors:

  1. If there’s something you want to do, you must simply go and do it.
  2. If you want to be better at something, do it more often.
  3. If you want to improve faster, ask someone who knows more than you to watch you and advise based on what they see.

#4 on that list should be: if you can not do what you want, go and do something else irregardless of your feelings, and set your ego aside. Action is the only solution for the conundrums that plague most personal failures, confusion, and lack of contribution to the world. Sometimes we expect to constantly be fulfilled, forgetting that the true fulfillment comes from inside. Optimized, continuous, and precise actions, not actions aimed at personal fulfillment, produce evolved results.

We can not plan everything, but we can optimize our actions to align with our values and desired outcomes. Continuous Evolution is a mindset to progress, evolve, and contribute to the human race on a daily basis. So, if you’re feeling uninspired, or unsure of what to do, think of your life as a project of continuous evolution, a project that is your top priority. Do the work, iterate, plan, and repeat every day, no matter what.