I’m a nerd. Like many others out there, I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the next Star Wars movie. I know when the next season of Game of Thrones will hit TV screens and really wish I knew when the next book will hit the shelves.

Being a nerd is all about diving deep into a subject. You learn everything you can. My kids are into Percy Jackson right now, which has led them to an interest in all the Greek gods and all the stories that go along with them. You probably have a nerd in your social circle somewhere—someone who can tell you the names of each character in a some fantastic fictional world, what planet they were born on or family they were born in to, what their name means in Elvish.

It’s a nerdery of consumption. All the information and experience is out there and you make it your job to absorb as much as you can.

But there is another level of obsession that tilts into creativity. Where the consumption inverts itself and becomes about output. 

The Star Trek nerd who start wring fan fiction for other readers. The Percy Jackson role playing that translates into my daughter making costumes for her younger siblings. This blog post that I am writing now.

Instead of being a spectator, you become a producer. You start contributing to the table of goods for others to consume.

Most folks stay on the consumer side of this balance. And there is a simple reason:

Creating is hard work. 

It can be exhausting, making something that didn’t exist before.

And it can be stressful.

I heard it quipped recently, “Stress comes from giving a f@%#.” 

It’s so much easier not to care that much. To let things be as they are. To stop doing and give into complaining and wishing and imagining.

So what drives us to go past that point? I’m not sure.

As I approach 40, I can’t help but wonder if there is something programmed into our DNA—a time release psychology that drives us to contribute something before it’s too late.

They say that children are obsessed with what they can get. Adolescents are obsessed with what they can prove. Adults are obsessed with what they can give. 

Age is not always a real determinant of which of those camps we fall into. In truth, we all have all 3 in us until the day we die.

But there is something about maturing that compels us to give, to contribute, to make something. We’ve built up the muscle to do the work, and now it’s time to get busy. Not because of what it gives us, but because of what it can create for the world.

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© Andy Zimney and Leading Off the Cuff, 2015.


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Andy Zimney is an organizational leader, coach, improviser, speaker, and facilitator. Andy is founder and principal at Leading Off the Cuff: Where exploration meets execution.