Good Creative People are NEVER Bored. (or) What I learned at the “George W. Bush Presidential Li-Berry.”

Recently, Heidi Ehlers, (Creative Career Consultant, and founder of Heidi Consults www.heidiconsults.com), told me about a lesson she once learned from her mother. Heidi had just moped into a room to whine to her mother, “Momma, I am so bored.”  And her mother responded, sagely if a little coldly, “No my dear, you are boring.”

Sue me if you want, but I agree with Heidi’s mom and want to pass along some advice to students everywhere: If you are even capable of being bored, I don’t wanna hear it. In fact, never let on to anyone, especially your creative director, that you have the kind of intellect capable of being so switched-off it can be bored.

When you say, “I was so bored this weekend” you’re stating that you find the entire universe – in all its mystery, in all its explosive beauty, in all its fractal complexity –  that the entire universe bores you. Saying “I’m bored” suggests  you’ve in fact seen  and thought of every interesting thing in the universe, read every book, been down every street, looked into every window, talked to all 7 billion people and that until some NEW material comes along, frankly, you’re not at fault for mopin’ around the house and draggin’ your knuckles a little bit. “Sorry, but there’s  nuthin’ ta DO.”

I simply cannot imagine a smart person being bored, ever.

I try to picture Albert Einstein moping around his house with “nuthin’ ta do.” I can’t. I try to imagine, say, Malcolm Gladwell hangin’ out over at Paul McCartney’s house and they’re tossing cards into an upturned hat, both grumbling about how bloody boring everything is. I can’t. I try to imagine George W. Bush  and …  well, that’s a fairly easy image to conjure.

(There’s W at his ranch. His cable is out which means he can’t watch NASCAR so he’s out on his porch waiting for the cable guy, munching on Cheetohs and as he reads the back of the bag, his lips move.)

The other day someone told me how bored he was and the metaphor came to mind of a street drunk asleep on the steps of the public library, his brain an insensible dollop of meat loaf  idling  at the feet of the stone lions in front of the vast cathedral of knowledge; his back to kaleidoscopic mystery of existence, his legs twitching, and his sputtery little two-cylinder mind, idling, twitch-dreaming of some Sterno-numbing pleasure, perhaps a People magazine.

Perhaps I am too harsh, but if he’s waiting for this watchman to prod him along down the sidewalk with my nightstick, forget about it. Be bored. Yawn into the abyss. The rest of us will be too busy inhaling all the knowledge and experience  we can before our time is up and our candle gutters. We will never be bored. Good creative people are naturally interested in everything, curious about everything.  They inhale the world.

38 Comments

  1. Splendid piece. It should be required reading for all high school students.

    Reply
  2. Excellent points Luke, I have had a slightly different attitude about boredom. If my kids ever said that they were bored, I shared with them the idea that boredom was great because it would make them think of something creative to do.

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    • Well, I guess that could work too, Diane. I’ll chill…by a few degrees.

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  3. This is awesome! I never thought about boredom in that way, but I agree with you. I thought back on it, and I haven’t been bored in years…and I’ve gotten a lot done because of it. Nice way to put it.

    S.M. Boyce
    Author of The Grimoire: Lichgates
    Once Kara opens the Grimoire, there is no going back.
    Click here to read the first chapter for free.

    Reply
  4. Touche babe. When friends say this I think fuck, I WISH I could be bored for one day, haha but life is TOO exciting. Always a new idea to write or business to plan, I feel an urgency to LIVE like there’s never enough time. That’s leading an inspired life. Great post x New fan

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    • thanx for the shout out. I agree. Life is waaaay too short to be bored. Ever.

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  5. Just yesterday I heard someone say they were bored, and I thought to myself that I haven’t been bored since I was a child. Reading this felt like you were patting me on the back.

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  6. I don’t know, Luke. Restless and bored are closely related states, and creative people are a restless breed. And the smarter you are the faster you move through things, getting all there is to gain and moving on to the next. I can see how such a person might be classified as “bored” when in fact they’re simply done with the mundane and searching for new and better experiences.

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    • Hey David: I hear you. And I DO get the restless part. That, I think, is different than bored. There’s an element of dispair to boredom that the restless person does not generally exhibit.

      Reply
      • Good point. The restless are positive because they’re busy aspiring to something. The bored on the other hand are heavy in their mood and stuck in the tracks.

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  7. Luke, I am sorry to see these SPAM trackbacks appearing here. The balloon companies in question are poaching AdPulp content (which links to your site), making an inconvenience for you (provided you choose to delete them), and a bit of brand tarnish for us.

    i know there’s a concept out there that we should want others to “steal” our content and spread it, but here’s a case where we clearly do not.

    Reply
  8. Being bored is good. The other day it forced me to go for a bike ride
    along the river.

    If I wasn’t bored I would have been happy to sit on my desk chair for the next
    2 hours. But maybe I wasn’t bored….just restless. I’m not really sure what the
    difference is.

    Reply
  9. You didn’t really go for the easy G.W. Bush joke did you? Alas, you did. I haven’t been this disappointed in a hero since I read that Elvis crapped his pants and wore thick, man-sized diapers. Sigh.

    Reply
    • You didn’t like the “Li-Berry” bit? That’s okay. I always thought W was a complete idiot. (He wasn’t evil, like Darth Cheny. Just an idiot.) Oh, well. Maybe it was this joke that made “hehe” respond above with such a mean-spirited email? Who knows?

      Reply
      • Don’t mind “hehe.” Ever since he became co-vice president of the Boredom Society he gets a bit sensitive when he thinks the rights of the bored are being assaulted. He means well.

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        • Oh, and one question? Do the sycophants on here ever trouble you? I mean, don’t get me wrong. I have several of your ads hidden under my mattress, but jeez, some of these people are leaving hickeys on your butt cheeks. It’s kind of unseemly. BTW, you don’t have any old post-its or napkins with rejected ideas you could send me, do you?

          Reply
  10. When I approach boredom I switch to a Barney Stinson frame of mind. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barney_Stinson)

    I stop being bored and be awesome instead.

    I don’t think I’m ever truly bored, e.g: my mind is never in a state where it cannot find *something* to consume… but I do say “I’m bored” quite a bit as a conversation starter. (e.g: “Hey so-and-so, I’m bored. What are you up to? Oh you’re listening to music? I just listened to a new album on the drive to work . . .”)

    I’ve always viewed boredom as a means of reaching out to another human being and asking them for input. I’ve never said “I’m bored” to myself as an excuse, if you will, to mope about and not do anything.

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  11. So is the assumption that “good creative people” never have jobs that require them to sometimes do boring things? Or that “GCP” find excitement in every conceivable task?

    I can easily imagine Einstein being bored. He spent 2 years looking for a teaching job, and then punted when a friend helped him get a job at the patent office, a job he must have found so exciting that (despite obviously being a somewhat intelligent and hard-working individual) he was passed up for promotion. A real thriller of a job that must have been for him, huh.

    I think if you cannot imagine Einstein or Lennon being bored in a desk job, then you must not be a very creative-minded person.

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    • alex, thx for your thoughtful response. you have a point. thx for your opinion. but check out “hehe” post above. woah.

      Reply
  12. Great post ! Never thought about boredom, this way! Thanks !

    Reply
  13. This is neither entertaining nor an educating post.

    How about trying to understand why a human condition, such as boredom, occurs? You sir, are the moron.

    Reply
    • wow. check out this guy’s response.

      Reply
  14. I read a similair quote “only boring people get bored” but I get bored very easily yet I am still a good creative person, so I think you can be both good creatively and still feel bored sometimes, I think it’s in everyones nature.

    Reply
  15. I’m not sure I agree – being bored means your mind is looking for something else, something new, to do. Kids who don’t get bored are often happy doing the same things and playing with the same things over and over. At least, that’s my observation with my kids! 🙂

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  16. really amazing…..its a mst read for every one…

    Reply
  17. Fantastic perspective!

    Reply
  18. Hi Luke, Really inspiring. Reblogged and linked it back to you. This was absolutely music to my brain. Great stuff.

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    • joh….thx so much. appreesh.

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  19. Love it 🙂 Maybe I’m indulging in self infatuation here by agreeing with you and then stating that I’ve only ever been bored about twice in my life 😉

    With so much to do in life – with so much out there to explore, learn, read or just simply entertain us – I too find it hard to imagine that anyone could be bored of this world. If anything, it usually shows sign of laziness and lack of motivation and ambition rather than anything else. And a guy’s gotta have some ambition.

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  20. Great perspective Luke.
    Starting a new semester tomorrow and I am sharing this with my portfolio students. Your last line is brilliant. As the semester gets underway I will encourage them to “inhale” often!

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    • So glad u like. Have a brilliant semester.

      Reply
  21. Boredom sets into the boring mind – Metallica.

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    • Love that line. Never heard it before.

      Reply
  22. baseball songs;baseball song;baseball music;stadium songs;baseball park music
    https://www.createspace.com/3788200
    America fell in love with baseball well over a century ago. It was interrupted by the Civil War between the states. When people wanted things to get back to “normal” after the war, baseball games sprung up everywhere. Farmers, former slaves, and factory workers alike played the game. One of my grandfathers actually did sell sodas from the back of a wagon in a number two washtub. Unfortunately, the game was on a hot Sunday afternoon in Joaquin, Texas and the powers that be at his church were appalled at the very thought. He was given the left foot of fellowship out the door. So, included is a fictional story based on that event. Somewhere along the way, baseball music sprung up with the game. This book contains the complete sheet music to 47 of those early, fun songs – from polkas to two-steps to marches and others. The music is very much a real part of the history of American Baseball. Baseball was then interrupted again by another war, World War I.

    Reply
  23. Oh, and Josh’s Brolin’s portrayal of him in “W” was also spot on hilarious, as was your article.

    Reply
  24. and I never get bored with myself!!!:D I don’t talk much and can stay in my room alone for days together!

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Boredom Is Desired, Becasue It Means Change Is Imminent | AdPulp - [...] creative director, author and educator, Luke Sullivan, doesn’t believe that creative people get bored. Good creative people are naturally…
  2. Boredom Is Desired, Because It Means Change Is Imminent | Big Balloons - [...] creative director, author and educator, Luke Sullivan, doesn’t believe that creative people get bored. Good creative people are naturally…
  3. Boredom Is Desired, Because It Means Change Is Imminent | Giant Balloon Company - [...] creative director, author and educator, Luke Sullivan, doesn’t believe that creative people get bored. Good creative people are naturally…
  4. Creative People are Never Bored - [...] Outright, straight up quoted from the brilliant heywhipple blog. [...]
  5. Jan. 9, 2012 – Boredom | Be Inspired - [...] Creative People are Never Bored at Hey Whipple Tara Sophia Mohr interviews Gwen Bell on social media, boredom, and…
  6. Linkage Round Up (Jan 15th) - [...] Smart people are never bored. Wonderful mind fodder beautifully written. (via @joel_runyon) [...]
  7. Linkage Round Up - [...] Smart people are never bored. Wonderful mind fodder beautifully written. (via @joel_runyon) [...]
  8. You're...you're BORED? | S.M. Boyce - The Blog! - [...] read a fantastic article recently about boredom. And when I say “recently,” I really mean a month ago. I…

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Luke Sullivan

Author, speaker, and ad veteran available to recharge, reinvigorate, and refocus marketing, advertising, and branding firms.

I give a hugely energetic series of presentations on innovation, creativity, branding, and marketing. I spent 32 years in the trenches of advertising (at agencies like Martin, GSD&M, and Fallon) and I’ve put everything I learned into my book, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. But for me nothing beats taking the message out and speaking to living breathing audiences at clients, agencies, and conferences. You can book me on the button below.

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