mwotw creativity

The Creativity Paradox

Launching a new offer you want to sell? Here’s what not to do:

  1. Think about what you’d like to make.
  2. Make it.
  3. Figure out how to sell it to people. 

That’s such an obvious mode for creating. 

And it mostly doesn’t work. 

Here’s the problem: In that method, you don’t have enough information about what your buyers WANT, NEED, and CARE ABOUT to capture their trust and attention.

There may even be elements of the thing you made that turn people off. 😬


To be clear, it’s totally ok to turn people off — if doing so demonstrates they’re not your people. 

If the thing that turns them off is part of your core philosophy and they don’t jive with it, great!

You’ve repelled a bad-fit client.

(Example: A client of mine teaches nonprofit leaders to run their fundraising like a business. 

If that sounds icky to someone, they shouldn’t take his courses.)

But what if these turn-off elements aren’t important to the core of your offer? 

(Example continued: If that teacher is repelling lots of people because they don’t like classes on Wednesdays, that’s not so great. 

Maybe he should teach his classes another day.)


What I’m saying is: If you want to create something that will actually land with people, you need to create it in relationship with the people you want it to land with.

Get their feedback early and often. 

Test your offer to make sure it creates the results you intend and appeals to the people you want to sell it to.

This is a much better plan for creating a successful new offer in your business.

And yet! There’s a paradox in play here.

Because here’s another bad way to launch a new offer you want to sell:

  1. Ask everyone what they want to buy.
  2. Make it for them following their every whim and instruction.
  3. Run yourself ragged trying to deliver something that you hope pleases other people but that doesn’t please you.

Chasing external validation isn’t a recipe for success, either.

It’s the opposite of standing still and letting people find you (aka “being a lighthouse”), which I wrote about in July.

It’s the opposite of sourcing from within and following your allurement, which I wrote about in May.

So here is The Creativity Paradox: Making something great means staying true to yourself AND acting relationally. 

You need both.

In the right times and in the right measures.

You have to stick with what brings you alive.

You have to honor where the spark is. 

Create what you’re excited to deliver.

Offer what’s yours to give. 

At the same time… You need to think about how it will make sense to people.

You need to know if you’re tuning into what they care about, and delivering in a manner than feels good for them to receive.

Profitable creativity has an alchemical blend of these two perspectives. 

It involves iterating and getting feedback and being in relationship with the people you’re creating for — AND staying true to yourself.

This is not a problem to be solved, but a tension to be danced with and a mystery to be lived. 

Which pole could you use a little more of?

Creatively yours,


PS – This post was inspired by this episode of “The Business of Authority” podcast from Jonathan Stark and Rochelle Moulton. Jonathan muses extensively about his practical methods for threading the needle of this Creativity Paradox. Highly recommend a listen.

PPS – Have an offer that’s not selling? It might be your messaging. It might be the offer itself. Or it might be something else entirely. Let’s spend an hour digging in to see what we can discover. You’ll walk away with concrete feedback and ideas for next steps, plus a recording of our call and any notes or content we create. **For September only, this new Offer Diagnosis service is available for $175 (regular price $400).**  Click here to book instantly.

This post was originally sent as an email to the Magic Words of the Week newsletter list. Every week, I share reflections on a word, quote, or phrase I think will help you thrive in your life’s work.

Want sage advice on life and business in your inbox every week? Join the Magic Words of the Week email list.

Similar Posts