Punk Rock, Innovation and Change

A lot of people confuse Creativity with Art, which is frustrating and flabbergasting. But then again, all the best examples of serious creativity tend to come from the arts: rockstars, painters, actors and writers.

The beauty of examples from, say, the music world, is that most people love music and can relate instantly to the point behind the example.

In my case, it was Punk Rock that brought me to a creative career. I had always been creative as a youngster, writing poetry, taking art at school and making things at any given opportunity. But it wasn’t until I discovered the DIY ethic of punk that I realised that what I was doing had its own merits and that I didn’t need permission from anyone to carry on.

From Sideburn #1 by Tony Moon

One of the biggest assets of a creative person is a willingness to break the rules. When I read the famous Sideburns ‘zine quote: “This is a chord, this is another, this is a third. Now form a band,” I realised that not only could I do that, but that I would.

Apart from an origin story in late 70’s New York, this is something that both Punk and Hip-Hop have in common: a collective middle finger to the man and a determination to make something that belonged only to us, with whatever means we had at our disposal.

This is an attitude that is all too often lost in our always-on, high-tech, instant gratification world. Even when you’re one of the ‘haves’ there are things that you are going to have to fight for. Even today, the Good Old Boys are still in charge, doing the things the way they have always done them because, well, that’s the way we have always done them.

Generation X missed a trick, sold their pirate flag for an Armani suit and got into bed with the Good Old Boys. With the best of intentions of changing the machine from the inside, I am sure. However, that didn’t happen.

This is why Gen X’ers hate Millennials so much… millennials won’t even enter the bedroom, let alone jump between the sheets. They shame us X’ers so we vilify them, forgetting our own anarchic, rebellious roots.

For me, a willingness to ignore the rules, go my own way, develop my own things and learn for myself has born huge fruit. It’s possible it has also lost me loads of money and opportunities. But in today’s Fail Fast, learn from failing world, I realise I did learn a lot. And what’s more, I am still trying and failing and growing as I go. There will be no ‘job for life’ for me because there will be no ‘interest for life’… that will always evolve and grow.

In modern business, sticking to the rules and doing what we’re told just results in more of the same in a world where tomorrow will be radically different from today. It fosters an unrealistic mindset that insists on its own validity and ignores the truth in its hand: an already antiquated mobile phone.

It’s not enough to crunch the data, analyse the competition and look for the gaps, you’ve got to be way ahead out there in the blue waters, blazing the trail that the rest will try and follow. If you’re not, you’re doomed to playing catch-up.

But that’s not a life for everyone, just like being a rock star is not. But if you want to innovate, heaven forbid, to disrupt, you need to embrace your inner rebel, break the rule and fly your freak flag high. It won’t be cool today, but tomorrow’s already almost come.

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