OPINIONS | April 17, 2013 | www.blackvenom.net

Stifled Creativity...
in a Society Meant to Innovate?

Can society fully prosper when business tries to dictate its every direction?

By: Gerren Ard

I slumped in my chair as the fragrance hit my face. Its pungent aroma... a stench that tickled my nostrils. I rolled my eyes over the numerous files, records and discs neatly stacked in open cabinets seated above a computer. I then focused on the seat facing me. There sat my career counselor, cradling his stiff bottom lip atop his forefinger. All too well, he knew of the familiar stench that hit my nose... the stench of frustration.

As the uncomfortable silence permeated the cubicle, he leaned forward to me and drew my attention. He knew I was listening. The concern in my eyes told him so.

"Have you ever heard of being... TOO good?"

I absorbed his question about as well as a sidewalk absorbs ice-cream.
"The Rock," himself, would've envied the single eyebrow I had just raised.

"As weird as it sounds, people can be intimidated by over-achievers... EVEN companies! They don't want to hire somebody they feel can take their job. As strange as it is, you might actually have to pull back a bit, just to get your foot in the door."

I found this to be profoundly disturbing, at best.
After all, who gets penalized for being good at something?

To be, or NOT to be...

So, nobody likes an "over-achiever."

I never quite considered myself an over-achiever. As a child, I was always taught by my parents to do my best at everything in life, try harder if you don't succeed the first time, and never give up even when the odds are stacked against you. I just assumed these were values that everybody wanted, taught to others and generally practiced themselves.

When did the urge to succeed become a BAD thing?

Comedian, Chris Rock, broke down the composition of society like this...

To paraphrase, in a classroom containing 30 students:
- 5 are really smart
- 5 are really dumb
- 20 are just in-between

Therefore, using this rationale, American Society is comprised mainly of "C"-range students.

"And WHAT'S wrong with that, Mr. Ard??"

Nothing's wrong with that.

The good news? ANYBODY can be a hero when the time comes, and great character, skill & amazing talent are found on EVERY range.

The bad news? Jealousy can be an ugly thing... and since society is mainly comprised of "C" to "F" -ranged students, there becomes a tendency to lower the self-esteem and standards of the people "making you look bad."

There IS something wrong with this.

Work Intimidation

Who would dare ask someone to hold back on their own abilities?

Does this apply to EVERYBODY, or just artists??
Heaven forbid we see a doctor or a dentist that does "just enough!"

Let's suppose this encouragement of "lowering standards" is applied to a business setting. It's this self-destructive nature that suppresses the hardest working, smartest working individuals and places them on the same level as those who merely "do good enough" or "just enough to get by."

When the strongest willed individuals notice that their efforts aren't acknowledged or rewarded, their morale suffers and they become detached from their job, putting forth only enough effort to get their job done... IF they don't choose to leave it altogether.

This is where things go from "bad" to "worse." Follow me...

With a down-trodden individual now angry with his circumstances, a new "gap" opens, which is usually filled by a "faker."

The Faker, in my opinion, is the worst of all. These are usually "High Functioning Idiots" that can manipulate their way to the top without having ANY credentials or skill required for the position. These folks are generally "haters" as well... with opinions about everything from their own "professional" points of view.

Even if the point of view IS credible, employees get paid to perform, NOT inform... and that's where the difference comes to light.

The "Faker" cannot perform at the same level for which "they criticize."

There is, HOWEVER, one thing they truly succeed and excel in:

"BULL $#!T."

That's Right! In other words...

Those idiots can influence ANYBODY, to believe ANYTHING, at ANYTIME!
It ALWAYS works out to their favor, and THAT is what makes them so dangerous!


It doesn't matter how "smart" you think you are... You can be "had." We've ALL been "had" at one time or another by somebody who was "faking the funk."

You know what I'm talking about... MANY of us have encountered these folks at some time in our lives! They're the ones who "talk trash and can't back it up..." the ones who offer advice they don't follow... the ones who are on your side until "the stuff hits the fan..." the guy who owes you money, that you never tend to see anymore??

C'mon, now... Tell the truth!

To be fair, having a distorted or unrealistic perception of one's own abilities is common... but once maturity kicks in, and you get to know yourself and your world better... it generally leaves. For some people, however, it can last a lifetime...

Take for instance, "American Idol," which has been on the air for over 15 years. I guarantee you, that over 95% of those auditioning actually believe they can sing!! Of those... only 30% can probably carry a tune or hold a note (That's 3 out of 10 people!) and less than 2% of that number is actually worth a music contract. Think about it.

What are the odds you'll encounter a "Faker" on the job? Nearly Inevitable!

"Agreed, but what does this have to do with 'Stifling Creativity?'"

Glad you're following! I'll tell you why...

The "Faker" is like a cancer in society... It never provides, it only consumes, and usually goes undetected for long periods of time. Most fakers look to climb the proverbial ladder of success, because only a "title" can "define their worth."

A "title" VALIDATES a Faker.
A "title" REWARDS an Achiever.

Notice the difference?

By the time a "Faker" is in a position of power, the company is already in trouble. Look for this "Faker" to begin making questionable (usually self-serving) decisions. They might hire their own friends and family into the business, take extreme risks, hire expensive expertise to solve "major" problems your company should've been able to handle, or sit on their hands and do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING... until they find a great idea, that isn't their own, to take credit for. The "creative genius" behind the idea is then praised by the "faker," who rewards them with more work and an "opportunity" of promotion. Of course, these "opportunities" never come and the "creative genius" ends up frustrated and looking for a new job.

By the time he leaves, "Creativity" is no-longer a goal or a priority... in fact it's not even an option anymore. "Job Security" will become the one and only goal of the "faker" AND the company who "for some reason" isn't making the same money they once were... and haven't a clue why. In some cases, the only feasible chance at survival, in their opinion, is to "cut" something... usually at the employee's expense. Cutting benefits, cutting workers... it's all fair game... but for some reason those "fakers" never see the ax.

This, of course, forces their business model to stay the same for many years, which is not healthy for societal innovations. They resort back to "what they know," because taking risks are completely off the table... thanks to your "fakers" who held positions they never should've had.

This may come off as a "slippery-slope" philosophy, but it happens more often than you can imagine. Haven't we all encountered some level of incompetence from a manager, or a boss on a routine basis? You think a show like "The Office" exists solely on the imagination of its writers?

In fact, you'll most likely find "mismanagement" at the top of the list for:
"Reasons why a company eventually shuts down."

By this time, having an "over-achiever" in your corner sounds pretty good doesn't it? It's too bad you've already ticked them off, and sent them packing by "trusting a fool" or "following greed."

If you do have one in your presence, you better treat them right and pay them accordingly! We can all learn something from this...

Have you ever met this person before?? On the phone maybe? In person?

"We're sorry, but our hands are tied. We can't help you."

If you're anything like me... You know this "script" is total garbage.

Not only is creativity being stifled, but also "ABILITY." Most of the workers you find in any job do "just enough to get by." They will not even try to go above or beyond for you, even in the most simple circumstances. You have to "suggest" options sometimes, because they DO NOT have your best interest in mind.

It's common to see responsibility get handed-off, like a baton in a track-relay, several times before you actually get what you need.

In my opinion, for every 5 times you hear this excuse, it's only legit about once. Don't believe it. Don't accept it. And above all else, don't give up until you get what's deserved to you.


Now that I think about, there might be only one other thing worse than a "faker..."

Let's talk about a bigger problem: "Greed."

It's much easier to get rid of a "faker" than it is to get rid of a person filled with "greed." Most "Fakers" won't invest the time if it means actually doing the work... it's too much effort. "Greedy" folks can actually work hard to take what they feel entitled to... even if it means crushing you to get it.

Greed is a nasty, heart-less monster.

Beware of a person fueled by Greed... they can cut someone deep, and not give a second thought to it. Greed lets you steal from your parents. Greed lets you destroy families.

Greed is one of the world's oldest addictions.

The Ojays told us what some people will do "For the Love of Money."
Jesus Christ mentions, "...That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:23

Greed is a "false prophet." Those who are led by it usually "pay for it" in the end.

Keep in mind, Greed doesn't necessarily mean money, either. When you find yourself hoarding something of value from others, Greed is usually a culprit. You can be greedy for power, for women, for love, for lust, for time, for food... it's endless.

This quick mention of "Greed" now transitions me perfectly into my next topic...

Corporate Intimidation

Recently, I read an article in Game Informer Magazine. To make a long story short, in the early days of video-gaming, Atari was on top of the gaming hill. Atari made $100 Million Dollars in sales in 1982. A memo within the company listed the sales report for each game under Atari. 4 game designers seen the memo and realized they were solely responsible for generating $60 Million dollars for Atari, yet, their yearly salary was only $22,000 each!

They collectively had a meeting with the president of Atari who allegedly told them "no individual is more important than the next" and denied them any bonuses or raises. These 4 individuals quit Atari, started Activision, and grossed several millions of dollars on their own... The BEST decision they ever made.

During the 2 years to follow, Atari fought several unsuccessful legal battles against Activision that not only resulted in them losing court-related costs, but ultimately losing hundreds of millions of "future dollars" just to save a few "present dollars." If Atari had simply re-negotiated with these 4 men, their premiere talent, even as much as giving them a couple million apiece, they would've been better off financially... BUT the "Greed of Business" made themselves suffer.

Lesson: Pay good people what they're worth and everyone's happy!!

On the flip side, if Atari had been successful in their tactics, not only would these 4 individuals have suffered... but so would the gaming public. We could've been deprived of some of the greatest games ever, and business wouldn't have even cared. Honestly, I can't imagine my childhood without Stampede or Keystone Kapers.

At least this example finishes with a happy ending. All too often, business attempts to stifle creativity are successful... and it's done "by ANY means necessary."

Sabotage & "Public Example"

Doesn't it seem unfair that "someone" has to capitalize on or benefit from your intended misery?

Yes, I said "intended."

It's also unfair to deprive creatively-driven individuals of an opportunity to share their talents and joys with the world.

In today's society, I find it hard for a man like Andy Warhol to paint pictures of Campbell's Soup or Marilyn Monroe without SOMEBODY getting offended, SOMEBODY trying to develop a lawsuit to get some money, or SOMEBODY serving him with a "cease and desist" paper to totally block him from making money altogether.

* There IS protection for artists against attacks like this, but it doesn't stop companies from trying anyway. Without money for representation (or "do-it-yourself" know how) to get it tossed out of court, it can be a tough battle for the common man... and business loves it because they can still win by default with an entirely poor case.

Take for example, two 13-year-old teenagers in 2010 that took their love of cupcakes to the public and hosted a bake sale in a park. According to the teenagers, a "man" approached them and seemed interested in buying some of the goods and walked away on a phone. The boys were enthused, believing he was going to draw more business to their stand. In reality, the "man" was a CITY COUNCILMAN who was on the phone... with the POLICE... to shut down the bake sale because the kids were "operating a business without a license."

Doesn't the nerve of this "man" just upset you?

As messed up as this case was, it's not the first time a Bake Sale or a child's lemonade stand was shut down for not having a business license, or a $1-million dollar insurance policy for patrons.

I ask, does this sound fair? Is it fair to treat children like adults? Is it fair to kill their spirit at a young age? The next Thomas Edison could be shut-down early, and "shut-up" for good!! Creativity and spirit should be nurtured, not discouraged!

That same "snitch" of a City Councilman could've easily brought those boys into town hall, take them for a tour of the place, had them deliver brownies and cupcakes to everyone, and then show them the RIGHT WAY to conduct a public business, and HELP them do it! That is a beautiful story... and EVERYONE wins! For the rest of their life, they would credit this kind councilman for showing them the way to prosperity.

Instead, this guy becomes the "Grinch" of national media attention!
See the difference??

In another case, I even heard of a woman selling cosmetics out of a mobile truck, like the ones mobile-restaurants use (roach-coach), and the city she lives in shut her down... until they figure out why.

Yes. You heard me correctly. They had NO charges. The city shut her down until they could figure out exactly what "law" she broke!

Aint that something?

Let me tell you... I have a woman in my neighborhood who goes door to door selling homemade tortillas and tamales. My response can be a "yes..." or my response can be a "no." I never once asked her if she had a license to sell her food. If she can make money doing it, good for her! If I get sick from eating it, I'll know not to get anymore! It's that simple. There's no need to complicate that... let that woman sell her snacks!

Now, if she's "selling her snacks" on South 6 and Van Buren...
You might need to look into that...


I see this as a "Stupidity Problem." There's a reason why we, in the United States, are lacking in education: It's encouraged and profitable!

Why be creative when the big-bucks are made by manipulating the playing field? Society can take a child's lemonade stand away, but legal scams like "reverse mortgages," and "the best vitamin ever" can run on television for years, with CELEBRITY endorsements, causing nothing but dissatisfaction for you and I, who can lose everything with the stroke of a pen. Good luck fighting the court battle, too.

As long as "greedy" folks with deep pockets continue to run committees of "fakers," that commit to doing the wrong things at all times, including the suppression of talented dreamers and "over-achievers," society will not advance the way it should. If we stopped spending so much attention on how to legally con people for a quick payday, we could actually develop pills that won't give a boy breasts!

And, surprisingly, after 4000 years...
There STILL isn't an easy way to take a couch upstairs!!

"Stifled Creativity... in a Society Meant to Innovate?" By: Gerren Ard

**All statements are solely opinions of the speaker, and should be read for entertainment or educational value. All names, images, quotes or links are the properties of their respective owners.**


Gerren Ard's "no holds barred" philosophy and rhetoric have garnered a reputation as being some of the most educated, truthfully-told, opinionated commentaries offered from an ethically & morally based, afro-centric perspective.