Create or Hate: Successful People Make Things is a very quick, how-to book for unlocking creativity. At 104 pages, it’s divided into 4 chapters and easy enough to finish in one afternoon. The central theme is that to be a successful creator, you must overcome self-doubt (defined as Hate). There is a creator in everyone, but too often the voice of Hate stops us from even exploring that side of us.
From the back cover:
“Hate can be controlled, and overpowered and your creative side can be nurtured and grown. This book will show you how.”
According to author Dan Norris, creating is the ultimate triumph over hate. But the battle is constant and ongoing, possibly beyond achieving material success. Because Hate is never satisfied.
About the Author
Who is Dan Norris to make this proclamation? Per his website: Dan is a “serial entrepreneur, 4X best-selling author and international speaker.”
As he details in the book, Dan is also a failure! At age 26, he quit his job to chase a dream. He bragged he’d be a millionaire by 30. Instead, he went broke and got divorced. He was, in his words, a joke.
After a few more missteps, he finally turned it around. And then wrote this book instead of one on how to be successful because “success is random and unpredictable.”
That the only thing he knows about successful people “is that they create things.” From Oprah to Elon, Branson to Gates, Disney to Ford: they all MADE something.
How to Overcome Hate
Peppered throughout the book are various quotes from famous philosophers, writers, thought provokers, and other creators. My favorite is a Cherokee legend called The Wolves Within:
There are two wolves and they are always fighting. One is darkness and despair, the other light and hope. Which one wins? The one you feed.
Dan’s wolves are the internal creator and hater. “The hater and creator are two competing forces that exist within you at all times.”
The one that wins is the one you feed. But in order to do that, the other must starve. So how do you starve Hate?
Consider how you talk to yourself. “What you tell yourself is what you become.”
Rethink the excuses you make. “Excuses are Hate’s specialty.”
Get more active. “Productivity breeds creativity.”
Take a stroll. Research shows it can “improve creativity by 60%.”
Or take a shower. The “relaxing, solitary, and non-judgmental shower…allow[s] the mind to wander free.”
Recognize that failure isn’t the end of the road. “Failure is just course correction.”
Eliminate negativity. “Cynicism kills creativity.”
And it makes you unlikable. “Negativity is boring and people don’t actually care.”
Starve the wolf. “Create more than you consume.”
Relating to Create or Hate
I read this book before I chose my word of the year. But it is a very good primer (and reminder) that creativity takes effort. The more at stake, the stronger the voice of doubt—the voice of Hate—makes itself.
I recently met with a group of creative entrepreneurs and we discussed our WOTY. I came to realize that my reasons for choosing the word create were based on fear. I’m actually afraid of running out of creativity, so choosing that word was a way of forcing it out of myself. That’s the wrong way to go about things.
Because fear is one of Hate’s weapons!
One of the entrepreneurs came up with a great analogy for the weight lifter in me. She said that creativity is a muscle that requires exercise. The more it flexes, the stronger it grows!
So my weapon against Hate is to continue to lift the weights of creativity. Just like my deadlifts, it will get stronger each time.
I love the no-nonsense and candid language of the book. It’s a stark contrast to most self-actualization books. It’s almost absurd, but most authors have dubious advice on how to be successful. “Do X and you will succeed!” Dan doesn’t guarantee fame and fortune, but he is in the trenches with the reader, saying, “yeah, I fucked up too. Let’s do this!”
While the book is structured to be a quick read and galvanize the reader to create something TODAY (see page 104), it’s also a great reference guide for when Hate creeps back. It makes the simple argument that self-doubt (Hate) will sabotage all creative efforts.
We all have a choice. We can accept Hate’s lies and remain mediocre, and quite possibly, miserable. Or fight Hate and become the creators we’re meant to be.
Which wolf are you feeding?