Review of Dan Norris’ Latest Book: “Create or Hate” by Mike Allison

I had the honour getting a pre-release copy of Dan Norris' latest book "Create or Hate" to read and review. 

Here’s how I'm doing it: 

I’m going to share passages from the book that struck me as I read it, which on my first run through took about 80 minutes (it’s not a big book - just 88 pages).

I will be reading the book again, because there are definitely some portions of it and ideas or thoughts that Dan shares that I found very useful for me personally.

So without further ado, here are the parts I highlighted.

Page 13: What Have You Not Created Yet?

“The problem is that there are forces working against you. Barriers that are stopping you from breaking through to the creative side of life. If this wasn’t the case, you’d already be creating."

As you go through the book, you’re going to recognise that some of the “barriers” Dan references are what you’re dealing with or facing right now.

Primarily, they are your own negative thinking about yourself and your abilities, and the negative influence of other people.

And Dan is very clear about the need to rid yourself of these thoughts and these types of individuals.

Creating is a positive process, the opposite of creating is hating, and it’s destructive.

Page 18: What I’ve Learned About Success

“I can’t tell you how to be successful. But I can tell you that if you don’t make anything, you won’t be successful. Successful people make things.”

And I’m going to add, that even if you make something that nobody else knows about, you’ll experience the feelings of satisfaction, accomplishment and success. And in the end, that’s all that matters because that feeling is what inspires people who create to continue creating; to be productive.

Page 21: Productivity = Creativity

“In addition to the misguided view that creativity equates to talent, the other misconception about creativity is its correlation with massive success. People often place pressure on themselves to produce instant hits.”

Most of what you create will likely never be a massive hit or success. And that’s okay!

Page 22: Productivity = Creativity

“The bottom line is this: If you are creating things, then you are creative. If you aren’t creating things, something is stopping you.I call that something ‘Hate’.”

Throughout the book Dan highlights how haters love to criticise and attack creators and how easy it is for each of us to fall into this negative and destructive way of thinking, even about ourselves.

This is what he calls “hate.”

And we all see this on social media, don’t we? Sometimes we refer to the haters as Trolls. But it’s not just the trolls that hate, because if we’re not carefully controlling our thinking and actions, it’s easy for us to fall into the trap of hating on ourselves or others.

“There are two wolves and they are always fighting. One is darkness and despair, the other light and hope. Which one wins? The one you feed." - Cherokee Legend

Chapter 2 - Pg. 27: Meet Hate

“Any time you engage in negativity, you feed Hate and starve Create. Every time you make something and ignore negativity, you become a better creator and you starve Hate.”

Taking positive steps to create something affirms your creativity, regardless of how small we might think actions or steps are. And they completely remove the energy required to hate, because believe it or not, hating requires a lot more energy than creating. That’s because hating is negative and drains you, creating is positive and energises you.

To think about: Do you want to feel drained or do you prefer to feel energised?

Pg. 30: The Worst Kind of Hate

“James, please don’t be one of those guys that teaches people something before they know it themselves. At least wait until you are successful before you attempt to to create something. Hypocrite!”

Here Dan is quoting some of the typical things people here from their friends, relatives and workmates when they let other people know they’re going to pursue an idea or goal. Of course, the notion that only an expert on a certain topic has the right or the ability to teach that topic has no foundation in reality.

I’ll provide you with my own example to explain what I mean. Last year I decided I was going to take up playing the electric guitar after many, many years of not playing. I bought a really nice guitar and I asked the owner of the shop if he could suggest a good teacher for me.

He immediately put me in touch with a guy whose around the same age as me and who’s been playing since he was around 13 or 14 years old. This guy plays professionally and he can play and style of guitar you ask him to at an extremely professional level.

But you know how many classes I took with him? Just 4. Do you know why? Because he’s a terrible teacher. He knows how to play guitar as well as anyone, but he has no idea how to teach guitar to someone else.

He has no system at all. And he spent most of the time during our 45-minute sessions showing me how he plays instead of helping me to play.

So the idea that someone must be an expert at something in order to teach it well to others is simply not true. In fact, until you’ve taught someone well about how to do something, you don’t really know it yourself.

Pg. 31: The Worst Kind of Hate

“Every self-help book ever written says that — believe it or not — what you tell yourself is what you become.”

So true. Tell yourself that you’re not creative and you won’t be creative. Tell yourself that you suck at something and you’ll suck at it. It’s the self-fulfilling prophecy. Enough said.

Pg. 32 - Chapter 3: Fight Hate

“Listen for that little voice in your head, telling you — in quite reasonable and measured tones — why you can’t do something. The excuses that Hate comes up with often seem

perfectly legitimate, which is why its influence can be hard to spot. Excuses are Hate’s speciality. “

True experience: I have a friend here in Germany who, through no fault of his own, just lost the job he had only been working at for three months. He was feeling discouraged and anxious one day and so I suggested that he think about starting his own business.

I even gave him several ideas of what kind of services he could provide for small businesses as well as private individuals.

Here was his response: “That’s a very American way of thinking and doing things. (NOTE: I’m not American. I’m Canadian) We Germans are different because in our minds we need security. So we’re not the types to go out and start our own businesses.”

I replied to him: “Security? You lost your job. And I work for myself and I’m the one who has work.”

He quickly realised how silly what he had just said sounded and chuckled.

Here he was telling me he couldn’t, or didn’t want to start his own business because working for someone else is more secure and yet the company he had been working for let him go.

Here’s the saddest part of it. The thinking that “we Germans are different….we’re not the kind of people to go out and start our own businesses.”

Of course this statement and viewpoint is completely invalid because there are millions of Germans who have their own successful businesses.

As Dan writes in his book, that little voice inside you head “in quite reasonable and measured tones” may be telling you why you can’t do something when the complete opposite is true - you can do it if you really want to do it.

It’s your decision to either take action or not take action; to create or self-hate.

Pg. 36: Not Enough Time

“Being focused and productive helps weed out the‘I’m time challenged’ excuse and gets you an early one-up on Hate.”

As Dan states in the book, everyone has the exact same amount of time each day. The only difference is how we choose to use that time.

Even parents can choose how they use their time. If their children are their priority, which I would hope is the case then parents are going to be spending as much time with their children as possible.

But that doesn’t mean that parents can’t find some time to create something they love. It’s simply a matter of taking time from other non-essential activities, even if it’s only a relatively small amount of time each day, and focusing on creating.

Whether it’s only 60 or 30 or even just 15 minutes each day, if you have the desire to create something you can and should schedule that time each day to work on what it is you’re desirous of creating.

Walking one mile requires taking thousands of little steps.

Creating something requires taking smaller actions or steps to achieve an overall goal.

Pg. 37: Failure = Course Correction

“If you aren’t regularly failing, you aren’t seeking a new destination. You are following a predictable path that doesn’t lead to anything new and you are learning nothing. You aren’t creating anything either. In other words, you are failing. You are failing to grow and failing to improve and failing to realise your full potential."

Pg. 39: You Suck

Steve Jobs said, “...everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.”

That’s an insight that should help you put your ideas and your potential for creativity into proper perspective because the only thing that’s standing between you and your potential to create something is inertia.

And the way you overcome inertia is by starting. Right now. Today.

Pg. 41: You Should Be Doing X

“As humans, we are poor versions of ourselves when we spend our time doing things we don’t want to do. It’s the ultimate success hack. Do more of what you love and you will be more successful.

If you let guilt trick you into doing less of what you love, the outcome will be doing a very poor version of whatever guilt has you doing. You will be a poor parent if you spend extra time with your kids only because of guilt.”

Great success hack highlighted here by Dan. Do more of what you love doing, whatever that is. I love writing to inspire and educate people towards positive change so they can overcome their inertia and find more success in whatever they would like to accomplish.

So I make as much time as I can to write and create. And I feel good.

Pages. 42 and 43: It's Probably Been Done

“Austin Kleon, in his book, “Steal Like an Artist”, puts it this way: “What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.

Stop thinking that what you are doing needs to be a completely original work of art. All anyone does is adapt what people have done before. If it’s already been done, good. Do it again, and do it better.”

This is so true. All of the greatest feats of engineering and the greatest works of art are only crude representations of the originals brought to us by our Creator.

Pages 57 and 58: Empathy Breeds Creativity

“Empathy is not only one of the most valuable life skills, it’s also one of the most valuable business and marketing skills. Poor business people present their offer to customers as if they are speaking to themselves.

Great marketers have deep empathy for the customer, and a true understanding of who they are, what they feel, how they speak, what they care about, and what drives them. This enables them to speak to their customers in a way that is more likely to result in sales.

This is why businesses pay copywriters to write their sales materials, because most business owners don’t have enough empathy. Copywriters know that the secret to great copy is to have deep empathy.

But the coolest thing to remember is that empathy is about imagination. Your goal in being empathic is to imagine what it’s like to be that person and feel what they are feeling. If you can improve your empathy, you improve your imagination. And imagination is the source of all creativity.

This was the first time in my life I had ever thought of empathy as being related to imagination and therefore it’s directly related to creativity. If you can imagine yourself being someone else, e.g., your potential customer, you’re likely going to be able to come up with some creative ways to solve that person’s problems - ways that you may not otherwise have had the ideas for.

Page 67: Follow Your Flow

“In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energised focused involvement and enjoyment throughout the activity. In essence, flow is characterised by complete absorption in what one does.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“If there’s something you can do that has you making things without you even noticing the work, then I’d say that’s a good start!

Follow your flow.”

I’m most often “in flow” when writing and creating content. That’s why I refer to myself as a content igniter and my site and blog is called Content Igniters. What gets you into flow,.-

Pages 74 and 75: Relaxation = Creativity

“It’s impossible to control your emotions when you are stressed. Reduce the pressure on yourself, reduce stress, and learn to relax. Meditate daily if you want, go on a holiday, surf, go for a walk, or take a shower. Do whatever you need to do to relax, and your creative juices will flow.

Stanford researchers found that going for a walk can improve creativity by as much as 60%.

Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., a cognitive psychologist and creativity expert, found that 72% of people experience new ideas in the shower. He commented: “people are more creative in the shower than they are at work. The relaxing, solitary, and non-judgmental shower environment may afford creative thinking by allowing the mind to wander freely, causing people to be more open to their inner stream of consciousness and daydreams.”

I’m 100 percent on board with this Dan. In fact, I recently wrote a blog post on this topic called Tune Out To Tune In and Get Creative.

Page 80: Create With Others

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” - Napoleon Hill.

What else can be said? Except perhaps a question for you and I to ask ourselves….what am I going to create today and who am I going to help while I’m creating?

Have a good one. I wish you all the success you can handle, and then some!

Mike Allison

After living and working in China for 13 years, founding and successfully running a consulting and training firm in the city of Guangzhou, Mike presently is living in Frankfurt, Germany and freelances as a business and sales coach. He started Content Igniters to help entrepreneurs to succeed online by teaching them how to create awesomely engaging content, raving fans, and drive their Internet business growth.

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