Bon Jovi was wrong and you probably are, too.

Last week, I asked this simple question on Twitter:

The results were staggering, but not surprising.

We tend to over edit ourselves during the creative process and it’s a colossal mistake. Why?

Because you’re usually the worst judge of things you create.

No one really knows perfectly if what they’ve made is good or not. We’re too close to the project to see it for what it is.

Take Jon Bon Jovi for example.

He didn’t want to put the song “Living on a Prayer” on their album. He didn’t think it was good.

Richie Sambora, his guitar player, convinced him to do it and it ended up being their most popular song of all time.

There are two takeaways from this:

  1. Don’t self edit so harshly, especially during the early stages of a project.
  2. Get you a Richie Sambora. You need someone who can tell you the truth.

You kill good ideas when you expect them to be great too soon.

And once they’re done, you can’t see them for what they really are and need community to tell you.

If you remember that, you’re halfway there …

P.S. I wrote a book about being awesome at what you do. You should read it.

About Author

Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff

Leave a Reply


  1. Ken Satterfield Reply

    You know, this reminds me of some comments I was reading about Stephen King. He couldn’t get more than the occasional article published and had been trying to write a book, but didn’t like it. His wife Tabitha found his crumpled efforts in the trash can and encouraged him to run with the idea, which the world knows as his first big success, “Carrie.”

    (I like this story better, because I’m with Bon Jovi on that song, success or no success! 🙂 )

  2. In my college PR class we divided up into teams chosen by the professor to have a balance of different majors. And we crafted a PR campaign together.

    When the prof checked in on our team halfway through the semester he asked who spoke up least. It was me – and he wanted to know why.

    I explained that I was thinking through the material and trying to figure out solutions for our campaign, but I wasn’t going to waste the team’s time with bad ideas.

    He told me that was ridiculous – and my team members were incredulous. The upshot of the conversation that followed was that the team can work with bad ideas to figure out better ones – but they can’t work with ideas they never hear.

  3. Jon – I bought your book “Do Over” and was wondering how I get access to your videos that you promised if we ordered through Amazon? Thank you. I’m actually “doing over” in retirement. I had 5 wonderful careers (that’s another story) and am excited about life after a 9-5 job.

  4. Omg this is the best post!! Applying the “no edit button” right now!! I am working on writing a show and it continues to be stalled as a result of over-editing and self doubt. Thank you for the great Monday morning inspiration. 🙂

  5. Absolutely, Jon. That’s why brainstorming is a free for all so the ideas can flow. You can edit and revise later, but you need to get the ideas out there. We have no idea what will be the best thing to come to mind if we cancel it before it is ever given wings. We all need to try our wings from time to time. The Wright brothers did, and now look at Boeing. If they had never done that, we might still be riding horses. Oh, my butt hurts just thinking about that. Thanks for the encouraging word to be free in our ideas and to give them wings (and a prayer) to see if they will fly.

  6. Jeff Stadden Reply

    This is so, so, so, so, so true. Soooooo true. I do branding. Identity design means sketch after sketch after sketch – many pages worth! – until the best idea emerges. Something you censor right away may have been the greatest idea ever, but by eliminating it in its earliest appearance, you’ll never know. We can’t fear bad ideas because we fear looking foolish, to others or to ourselves. Accept the fact that you’ll only find the diamond by slogging through the manure pit.

  7. Came over from Mandi at Life Your Way. Just what I need to read right now! Thank you!

  8. alan Reply

    You had me at “Bon Jovi was wrong.