Drift, Wait and Obey — It Worked for Kipling, It Can Work for You

David Burn
2 min readMay 4, 2022

“When your Daemon is in charge, do not try to think consciously. Drift, wait, and obey.” -Rudyard Kipling

According to Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, the ancient Greeks and ancient Romans did not believe that creativity came from human beings. They believed that creativity was a divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons. The Greeks famously called these divine attendant spirits of creativity “daemons.”

Let’s put this ancient wisdom to work in the context of today’s creative industries. A creative director in this context would be the person who conjures the daemon or muse.

Is that what your creative directors are doing today? Conjuring the muse?

Time to Let Go of Your Creative Geniuses

Perhaps your company is home to a select group of creative geniuses. Maybe you’ve come to rely on these select few individuals to keep the business moving forward. If so, Ms. Gilbert, for one, does not approve.

I think that allowing somebody, one mere person to believe that he or she is like, the vessel, you know, like the font and the essence and the source of all divine, creative, unknowable, eternal mystery is just a smidge too much responsibility to put on one fragile human psyche. It’s like asking somebody to swallow the sun.

It’s no secret that creative people and the businesses they run can be deeply invested in the idea of creative geniuses at the helm. It’s a common narrative and one that feeds egos, if not bank accounts.

I wonder, do advertising professionals truly believe in the power of ego to stimulate creativity? How about the power of personal ambition to keep people handcuffed to their jobs?

It seems to me that the most innovative and creative people in advertising and beyond are adept channels for cosmic energies and signals (that require a human body to ground them and make them real for others). But that’s not in the agency’s pitch deck, is it? In its place is something about patented processes and award-winning work.

Creativity Is Best When Coaxed

The creative industries rely on workers to deliver bold new ideas that move people to believe and to buy. Yet, how many creative leaders and businesses make room or dedicate a space for the team to stretch out? When was the last time your creative director asked you to go outside and lay in the hammock or take a walk in the park?

When was the last time your account director took pride in the creative team’s eccentricities?

Maybe your directors don’t believe in “laying down” on the job. But I do, and so do other people who study creativity and make a living via their ingenuity and inventiveness.