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VIDEO: Comic Genius Ze Frank on Un-Executed Ideas

Funny, and not-so-accidentally profound. Note: if you just see a spinning “loading” wheel above, reload the page and the video should show up.

Who is this guy?

Ze Frank is a smart, hilariously-creative web celebrity who rose to fame a few years ago with his “thing a day” video blog. If he looks familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve inadvertently seen one of his videos (probably back in 2006). He’s not just a lowly internet celebrity. He’s a big-time internet celebrity.  He even has his own TED Talk. For more on Ze, check out his epic website.

Executing Ideas is a Totally Different Process Without Adderall

As an Adderall user, you’re accustomed to having your brain flooded with so many ideas that you can’t possibly execute them all (unless you pop pills and don’t sleep…or so you tell yourself).

But the flood of ideas  doesn’t stop when you quit Adderall. In fact, the ideas often get better. But now it’s a hundred times harder to execute them.

On Adderall you tend to fail your ideas by over-executing them (e.g., the 25% of the project you finished before abandoning it was flawless). Off Adderall it’s the opposite problem: Execution itself is painful and difficult (because you’re not used to doing it un-assisted) so you fail your ideas by never acting on them.

This is normal. It is normal to struggle in this direction (mustering the energy and commitment to actually work on an idea). It is strange and atypical to have your biggest struggle be reining in your brain from it’s chemically-induced tendancy to overdo everything into oblivion.

The sober way, requiring many acts of willpower to do anything at all on a project, is more effective. There’s a saying in the design industry: “Perfection is not when you have nothing to add; it’s when you have nothing to take away.” Without Adderall, you have no choice but to execute by small, methodical additions of will. And since your creative effort is not unlimited like it is on Adderall, you will focus each addition only what is absolutely necessary at that given time. You will very rarely run overboard without Adderall. It is in this way that you are in line with the designer’s philosophy of perfection (when you have nothing to take away, but lots still to add).

Recommended Reading

Passion alone is not enough to ensure your ideas see reality. You need self-discipline too. An article by another web celebrity, Steve Pavlina, really helped me realize this few years back, and I still think back to it often. I really don’t think there’s a better way to communicate this concept than how he did it. Read it for yourself: Steve Pavlina’s “Passion vs. Self-Discipline”

It’s a one-sided article (corrected by the comment thread that follows it), but it kind of needs to be in order to get its point across fully.

2 Responses to “VIDEO: Comic Genius Ze Frank on Un-Executed Ideas”

  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s funny…as a person with diagnosed high risk ADD, THIS is what I experience alllll the time WITHOUT Adderall:
    “you’re accustomed to having your brain flooded with so many ideas that you can’t possibly execute them all” and “the 25% of the project you finished before abandoning it”. Can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would CHOOSE to feel that way. lol! That being said, the motivational kick of it is certainly a bonus…so I get why people would want to take it off label. Well, that and the excess energy burst. I have to resort to caffeine for that, since Addy calms me down, not revs me up. Weird.

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