When Wayne Rooney was 16 years old, he scored the winning goal for Everton.
He scored it against Arsenal, the Champions.
He broke their thirty match unbeaten record.
He beat David seaman, one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
And Rooney did it when he was just 16 years old.
He casually brought the ball down, and whacked it through the defence and into the net.
Everyone was gobsmacked.
No one saw it coming.
It was cheeky and daring.
The sort of goal most players wouldn’t even try.
And here was a 16-year-old kid doing it against a side full of the best players in Europe.
But this 16-year-old kid wasn’t frightened.
He was having the time of his life.
Doing what he loved to do, play football.
Apparently, every day he’d go to the Everton training ground and train with all the older professional players.
Then, when he’d finished training, he’d go over the local park and play football with his mates.
Just because there wasn’t anything else he wanted to do more.
He loved football, so he played it every second he could.
But after that goal against Arsenal he became famous.
And Manchester United bought him for twenty five million pounds.
Then he became a very expensive investment.
He had to stop going over the park to play football with his mates.
He was too valuable for that.
He was a professional now.
He couldn’t be allowed to risk a broken leg, groin strain, or torn ligament in a kick-about.
This wasn’t just fun anymore.
This was serious work now.
And Rooney stopped being the daring, cheeky kid, trying things that will look great if they come off and silly if they don’t.
Of course he’s still a great player.
But now he only plays football when he’s paid to.
Consequently the fun’s gone out of it.
And for most of 2010 he didn’t score a goal.
That’s what happens to all of us.
We love to be creative, we do it every second we can.
And eventually we get a job doing it.
Then we stop doing it because we love it, and we start being professionals.
And the fun goes out of it.
We used to do it just because we enjoyed it.
But now we’re professionals, and we don’t do it unless we’re paid to do it.
Now creativity isn’t fun anymore.
But I love being around people who aren’t like that.
People who haven’t turned creativity into just a job.
I was talking to Mark Denton and his wife the other night.
I said “How’s it going?”
Mark said “Fantastic, I’m really busy.”
Anna said “Yeah, he’s busy alright, but I wish it was work he was making some money on, though.”
And there speaks the wife of a really creative bloke.
He wants to do stuff.
He’s full of ideas.
As long as he’s having ideas, making things happen, creating things, he’s happy.
Even if he’s not making money at it.
Because, for the truly creative person, everything is a chance to be creative.
They can’t help it.
That’s what they love.
Why should they only do it I they’re getting paid for it?
They want to do it.
It’s not scarce.
It’s not like they might use all their creativity up and not have anymore left.
They’ve got tons of it.
They don’t know what to do with it.
Mark can’t help it, he admits it himself.
Of course he’s not making money on a lot of it.
A lot of it he’s giving away for free.
So what should he do, not do it?
Go over the pub instead?
Turn off the creativity, bottle it up, until someone pays him?
You know what happens then?
You become less creative.
Because creativity is like a muscle, the more you use it the better it gets.
The less you use it, the more it atrophies.
See the thing about creativity is it’s either bubbling up inside you, or it isn’t.
If you let it out, you’re doing what you love, being creative, you exercise it, it keeps getting better.
If you shut it down, it starts to wither.
You train yourself to be less creative.
If you’re lucky, if you’re like Wayne Rooney, you can swap the fun for a lot of money.
But then you have to decide.
Are you being creative because you love it?
Or are you just doing it to make money?
In which case maybe you can use the money to buy some of the fun you’re not having.