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Blog // Thoughts
October 6, 2014

TIPS – How To Understand Your Creative Skills

Lets talk about TIPS. No, not those short pithy bits of advice you get in magazine and blog articles, but TIPS, the acronymn developed by youth coaches at the Ajax football club in the Netherlands, to describe the skills required of promising young footballers (soccer players). My feeling is TIPS might helps us define our […]

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Lets talk about TIPS. No, not those short pithy bits of advice you get in magazine and blog articles, but TIPS, the acronymn developed by youth coaches at the Ajax football club in the Netherlands, to describe the skills required of promising young footballers (soccer players). My feeling is TIPS might helps us define our creative skill set in refreshingly clear ways.

What Is TIPS?

Technique – is a way of understanding talent, not just the individual skills a player should have, in relation to their age. Also, the way the player implements the skills, especially in the choices a player makes about which skill to use (e.g., low pass or lob pass, place a shot or strike it hard).

Intelligence – isn’t the player’s IQ, but their situational awareness, their sense of what is going around them and the ability to gauge what will happen. It’s a player’s ability to read the game, identify patterns in the play and adjust their role and instructions to the way the competition is evolving.

Personality – has to do with the player’s emotional state. Are they well suited to playing the game professionally? Can they cope with the pressure? And, most importantly, are they able to express themselves on the field creatively in a way that changes the game?

Speed – players need to be able to execute at speed, often making decisions in fractions of a second and using their skills while moving quickly on the field. Many can play the game well, but their ability starts to unravel as the tempo of play increases and professionals are often trying to execute complex skills and making positional decisions while they and the ball are moving at top speed.

Applying TIPS As 4 Steps For Creative Work

Although TIPS was developed specifically for football coaching and scouting, there’s something here we can apply to creative work, especially when it comes to understanding the transition either into a new activity, or when we are thinking about how to “go pro.” Below are four questions, based off the TIPS idea, you could ask yourself, to clarify your own self-understanding.

Technique – What Skills Should I Employ? Not that long ago, practical learning was difficult and expensive. But, in the internet age, almost any skill is only a YouTube video, or online course away. The challenge is shifting, from being able to acquire skills to figuring out which ones you need and when to implement them. Just because you can lay a killer fat bass line on this track, or apply HDR to that image doesn’t mean you should. Technique is no longer about being able to do something, but about being able to choose the right moment to use the right skill.

Intelligence – What Game Am I Playing? While impressing fellow musicians might feel good, your real goal as a musician is to connect meaningfully with music listeners. It might be cool and validating to get lots of likes on that photographic forum, but that probably won’t help you get clients or buyers for your photos. And, whatever creative work you do, if you are reading this, then you are in a landscape that is changing and evolving as digital platforms rise and fall in popularity. Intelligence is about understanding your creative work, what market that exists for it and your place in that market.

Personality – Who Am I In This Game? Do you really want to be a pro? There’s nothing wrong with doing your creative work as a side to a full time day job and for many people this is a better way to go. In either case, is the way you present yourself and your work really reflecting your personality in a deep and meaningful way? How is the creative field you work in different, simply because you are present in it? Personality is about putting in the effort required to make the way we share (and sell) our work as distinctive and original as we are.

Speed – How Fast Should I Execute? Like every creative professional I’ve spoken to, when I got back into music and when I started doing photography, I had no idea what to charge clients. Sometimes, it can be really hard to get a read on how much to charge. What helped me was to put aside the charging question and figure out how fast the pros work. How many minutes of music per day do arrangers or composers create? How long does a photographer take to plan, set up, do and edit a photoshoot. Interestingly pros are sometimes reticent to answer the how much they charge question (especially over the internet) but happy to tell you how long tasks take. Speed is about figuring out how fast you need to work and based on how much you need per day to sustain yourself, where you should set your minimum price point for clients and fans.

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