The dangerous myth of the creator-entrepreneur.

We have conditioned ourselves and each other to believe that artists, musicians, writers, inventors and creators must orient themselves as entrepreneurial go-getters - monetising their work into startups, small businesses or branded products. This myth of the creator-entrepreneur radically narrows down the complex motivations of human creativity and pressures creators to view financial success as the highest marker of their worth. It's economic reductionism, and it has found its way into domains of life that have traditionally been motivated by a richer array of human aspirations.

For centuries, creation has been driven by non-commercial motivations: challenging dominant paradigms, sparking introspection, bringing more beauty into the world, or even offering a contrast to beauty itself. The still inexplicable urge to create arises from the deepest caverns of human consciousness, yearning to be expressed through creative action. But the myth of the creator entrepreneur convinces creators that their deepest life energies ought to be packaged into money-making vehicles and pitched to venture capitalists or corporate executives. It pulls creators away from the inner terrain of imagination where financial value may have little relevance.

As creators, we eventually market our works by necessity or choice. We've got to make a living, as the saying goes. And there's nothing wrong with that. The soul of creation lies far beyond any economic measures, but the body of creation still needs to buy ramen noodles and pay rent. But positioning entrepreneurship as the only logical endpoint subtly reorients our collective creative impulse away from spiritual, philosophical or artistic explorations without obvious commercial potential. It pressures creators to view our success through the distorting prism of profit-making and wealth accumulation.

This myth manifests everywhere - from the cultural hype around hot new tech startups to the way universities speak about preparing "innovators," "creators", and "entrepreneurs" ready to bring their ideas to market. The long arm of capital infiltration has reached domains of music, writing, poetry, and art, traditionally created without economic priorities. Even personal journaling is being reframed as a productivity hack for future profits rather than being valued as a self-development process.

As creators internalise this myth, we begin viewing our creative outputs as deficient if they do not possess money-making potential. Rather than creating from a place of passion, we constrain our imagination based on what could sell. The spontaneous eruption becomes blocked by financial planning. The creative impulse, oriented merely towards external validation and profit, inevitably wars against its magical essence.

Steve Jobs oversaw the design and creation of some of our era's most iconic consumer products. But what animated him and his team was something more than entrepreneurial ambition - it was, to a degree, passion—a passion for designing magical user experiences. The entrepreneurial packaging came later. The genesis of Apple's innovations lay in the boundless nature of purely creative visions not constrained by business models. It is precisely by not limiting imaginative possibilities that revolutionary products emerge in the first place.

Picasso co-founded the Cubist movement by challenging artistic perspectives. Emily Dickinson wrote poetry breaking syntactic rules, which only gained fame after her rebellious death. Dozens of publishers rejected Dr Seuss's weird, imaginative children's poems, concerned they wouldn't sell before becoming classics. Frida Kahlo leveraged her disability from polio as a creative force for her unique painting. Great artistic discoveries have emerged more from obsessive focus than a calculated business plan.

What unifies these creators is a common thread of inner passion that manifested despite not conforming to commercial viability standards. Creations that shift our culture are rarely strategically planned from scratch for monetary goals. Creative breakthroughs arise from irrational psyches that overflow toward the external world. They erupt from the raging volcano of human inner lives seeking expression.

This myth applies a subtle but toxic pressure on creators to constantly "optimise" themselves and their works for productivity and profits. It drags them into a broader hustle culture that venerates 24/7 grind and hyper-productivity. Under this paradigm, creators are valued primarily based on their output, with financial worth as the guiding stick. Not only does this negate the reality that creation arises in fits and starts, often from fallow periods rather than constant output. It also imposes a soul-crushing perspective on creators, who come to view themselves as profit-generating machines rather than complex human beings.

Creators deserve fair compensation. Many wish to build careers from their talents. But positioning crass optimisation, wealth and entrepreneurship as ideals for creators kills the heart of creation itself. Do creative individuals need resources and sustainability? Absolutely. But reducing creators down to entrepreneurship minimises the soul that animates human imagination. We need a culture that celebrates creativity for its own sake.

Many painters, poets, sculptors and writers create as a meditative spiritual process meant only for themselves or small audiences rather than mass consumption. Others use art as a vehicle for social change through challenging conventions and spotlighting inconvenient issues - aims that lend themselves to something other than commercialisation. For them, creation provides personal meaning by bringing more beauty and truth. Imposing entrepreneurship as an obligation becomes another tyrannical way of poisoning creators' joy - by confining them to boxes not meant for their wings.

Creators who wish to birth companies or products deserve support. But even there, genuine innovation emerges less from purely strategic decisions guided by profit-only motives - and more from tinkering and imaginative blue-sky experimentation that trusts intuition over metrics. Revolutionary companies are often founded by unconventional creators driven more by visionary passion than textbook management principles. Imposing reductionist models on their chaos only risks killing the golden goose.

There's a troubling spiritual poverty in reducing highly individualised expressions of human creativity to their money-making potential alone, as if the apex of human achievement is generating wealth rather than uncovering truth and beauty in their infinite manifestations. It's a view that forgets thousands of years of creators who brought new ways of seeing and being into the world beyond commercial considerations.

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