Subscribe to learn more about Neuberg, Gore & Associates' ideas

Firebrands Shouldn’t Flame Out

Posted on: March 21st, 2012 by Bryan 4 Comments

The media is crucifying the Director of Kony 2012 Jason Russell from Invisible Children—and many “establishment” organizations are secretly loving it.

But the real story is not being told.

What’s happening is more than a clash between traditional and disruptive organizations.

Many of the firebrands powering these disruptive organizations suffer from internal conflicts—struggles that can wreck careers, game changing companies, and sometimes lives.

You see, Jason is probably what my colleague Dr. Aaron Blackledge calls a “hyper-creative.” Hyper-creatives are a breed of people unto themselves. Not better or worse than standard Doctors or Librarians. Just different.

Very different. Many hyper-creatives:

  • See things that others don’t. Like a future that hasn’t been invented yet;
  • Have the unbridled energy to execute these visions into world-class programs and products;
  • Possess voracious appetites for risk. Some invest huge sums into big ideas. Others do expeditions into dangerous countries. Many start organizations in their living rooms, and take on behemoths like Apple and Google.

Great characteristics. The wiring of the consummate entrepreneur, really. How closely does this describe some of your entrepreneur friends? Even yourself?

Dr. John Gartner asked the same questions to 10 prominent Internet CEOs. 100% said this profile described them to a T. In his book “The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (A Little) Craziness and (A Lot of) Success in America,” Gartner explains why this personality often wins.

But all qualities come with downsides.

Most commonly, hyper creatives can’t sit still and have troubles focusing. As leaders, they can spread themselves thin, neglecting to provide their organizations with needed direction. Some suffer from mood swings into depression that affect their ability to commandeer their organizations. Many self medicate with drugs and alcohol. On the more dramatic end of the spectrum, some hyper-creatives are prone to manic episodes. These people, often endowed with gigantic minds, stand on the thin line between genius and madness.

With unbound energy and breakthrough vision, hyper-creatives have the potential to change the world. With this potential comes the responsibility to create sustainable careers.

Some thoughts on how to do this if you are a hyper-creative:

1.) Sleep hygiene – Recognize that your addiction to euphoric moods can lead to burnout. If you are revved up, moderate this through solid sleep hygiene. Darkness therapy can quickly prevent this unfettered energy from becoming misguided risk taking that can jeopardize your enterprise. Draw your shades. Turn off devices that emit blue light an hour before bed. Sleep with a blackout mask. An hour of extra productivity a day can cost you immeasurably in the long run.

(Consider taking Melatonin. Consult your doctor first.)

2.) Unleaded fuel – If you are prone to mood swings, be prudent with substances. Alcohol can throw people off considerably. Semi consistent usage of marijuana can destabilize moods.

3.) Meditation – Adopt a regular practice to discipline the restless mind. We have traditions that hone the brain and chisel the body. Few of us have regular practices that can change our blood chemistry to enhance our performance and cognition.

As entrepreneurs, firebrands, and leaders, we cannot afford to flame out. Counting the days down to the big product launch or exit robs the planet of your gifts.

4 Responses

  1. eduardo marinez says:

    Great insight, I appreciate the suggestions Bryan. Cheers!

  2. Deanna Neuberg says:

    Sound advice. Thank you for this thoughtful and intelligent piece.

  3. Vivienne says:

    Love the post!!!!

  4. chris pryor says:

    Nice. Thanks for this.

Leave a Reply