‘You brought your bags?’ says the checkout lady at the supermarket. I shake my head. ‘You got your clubcard?’ Shake, again. She looks reproachful. ‘Not doing very well are you?’

Considering how every little insult helps, I reveal my mantra. ‘Just muddlin’ on through’ I say, trying to smile.

Now this lady may not know it but she is the Creativity Assassin known as:


Box Thinker


This is someone who likes a neatly parcelled up world and likes to put everything in mental and physical boxes. Ticking boxes, putting people into four categories in personality tests, organizing tinned food alphabetically are all activities which give these thinkers a thrill. But if you mess up and dribble ideas outside one of their boxes… well, look out…

Trained in the same lethal academy as

The Analyzer

This killer knows that any amount of analysis of what is happening in the present, can kill ideas and visions which are about the future. Analyzers often pride themselves on their extreme rationality, denying emotions and fantasies we might have about ‘what could be’. Any imaginative projection will be scoffed at.

But both these will avoid

Happy Shiny Dude

Here we have someone terrified of discontent, unanswered problems, and the opposing pull of any contradiction. Happy Shinies like to be sunny all the time, so they never need to think creatively, so busy are they avoiding gaps and problems.

These smilers often hang out with

Complacent Cat

A killer who seeks out creatives who are hellbent on rocking the boat (most of us). Complacent cats can’t be bothered to take any sort of action or suffer the pain from learning involved in changing the status quo. Keen on PR campaigns to label creatives as mad, and to be marginalized, so as to revert to their nice, cosy equilibrium.

And finally, the most insidious


Driven to kill by envy of creatives. Underminers instinctively understand that bringing an idea to fruition with turbulence of feedback, can make creators feel vulnerable and confused as to whether the idea or their whole identity is rubbish. Underminers ask probing questions about setbacks in order to encourage bad feelings. And they may do this under the guise of friendship… truly, a stealth killer.

Experienced any of these? All of them maybe?

Well, braves, stay strong, be messy, focus on the future and what might be, hang in there with the misery and the discontent, and continue to strive and act. Remind yourself you are not your idea but there are plenty more where that one came from.

And stay solid with your tribe.

By szcz

2 thoughts on “5 Creativity Assassins To Avoid”
  1. This is great, I know a few of these. What would you recommend as a strategy to deal with the underminer? I am pretty sure I am going to encounter one of those a week Monday when I once again plan to present my ideas to the environment group. I will be armed with planning, passion, vision and support from people who share the passion and vision, but can still imagine the underminer having a really good crack at undermining the vision.

    1. Thanks Esther, glad you related to this post.

      Underminers often keep putting problems that they suspect you can’t solve. If there’s a chance to say ‘Yes, that does seem a problem – do you have an idea how to solve it?’ it sometimes successfully wrong foots them…

      An alternative is to put the problem to the whole group and ask for suggestions on how to deal with it. The rest of the group may not regard the issue as a problem… or as something that can be dealt with later.

      Either way, you stop playing role of person expected to have all the answers, alone, which is unrealistic. Good luck with it!

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