A creativity lesson from ‘Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid’

September 16, 2016 - 7:10 pm

In the film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” Butch and Sundance land their first honest job as payroll guards for a mining company. One classic — and funny — scene has them heading down the mountain to pick up the payroll with Percy Garris, the mining company owner.

In that scene, Butch and Sundance are nervously looking for bandits, even though they don’t yet have the payroll:

Butch Cassidy: I think they’re in the trees up ahead.

Sundance Kid: In the bushes on the left.

Butch: I’m telling you they’re in the trees up ahead.

Sundance: You take the trees, I’ll take the bushes.

Percy Garris: Will you two beginners cut it out.

Butch:Well, we’re just trying to spot an ambush, Mr. Garris.

Percy Garris: Morons. I’ve got morons on my team. Nobody is going to rob us going down the mountain. We have got no money going down the mountain. When we have got the money, on the way back, then you can sweat.

When giving talks on creativity, I sometimes show this scene, applying it to the process of generating ideas. Because it’s tough getting to fresh ideas if we’re forever looking for phantom bogeymen behind trees and bushes, desks and tables, backrooms and boardrooms.

We stop ideas in their tracks if we’re fretting about what people will think about our ideas, how they might respond to them and what tricks they may use to steal them.

So to paraphrase Percy Garris, quit being so concerned about people trying to ambush you on the way to ideas. Such fears are usually unfounded.

Acknowledge those unrealistic anxieties when developing ideas (and when starting on any business or personal project), then put them aside. Instead, channel your energies into being more creative and helping others.

Once you have a payload of ideas in hand, then you can sweat the small stuff!

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