This post isn’t for everyone. It’s not for people who want to live a life of consumption or complacency and be content with that.

No, it’s not for those. If you want to do that, I don’t have any words of assistance for you.

I do, however, have words for you if you know, deep in your heart, that you want to create something great, but you’ve been holding back all these years because of fear.

That “something great” can be of any type, shape, or variety.

Maybe it’s a new business.

Maybe it’s making a new toy named smudgie-dolls.

Or perhaps it’s creating great gospel-rock music. Or perhaps even great scientific breakthroughs. Maybe even a grant proposal that rocks the reviewer’s world.

Who knows.

It doesn’t matter what the what is. Because all people who have something unexpressed inside struggle with the same issues.

A sea of toxicity for creators

The industrialists were creators. They created great factories that churned out widgets that were designed to enhance our lives.

Ironically, their creations had the effect of generating a whole populace that is deathly afraid of real creating and creativity. So, while the creators of those industrial empires got to express themselves – generations of people who have gone to work for them and been influenced by them have had their creativity stifled by the creating that the industrialists did.

Just go tell your relatives that you’re going to be in a rock band. Or that you’re going to start a business. Watch their sympathetic, patronizing reactions as the look on their face turns to horror, like you might expect after a cancer diagnosis.

“Find a real career, like medicine or engineering, so that you can support yourself and your family.”

I’m not kidding about this. I’ve recently helped someone start a new business to work on a cure for a major disease. This person has suffered from anxieties both internal and external. Externally, she’s felt judged and pressured by colleagues who act like she’s a traitor for doing something positive with her work. Internally, she frequently worries about “what if it fails and I can’t support my family.”

(She probably would have given up on this journey if it hadn’t been for having the support of a mentor – going it alone in confronting these fears is very difficult).

Schools fuck it up

Our education system these days is totally fear driven. In the US, a lot of it comes from politicians and pundits who look at Asia, where they see students accomplishing higher test scores in subjects like math and grammar.

“We have to get rid of that useless art crap, and spend more time teaching them the basics, so that we can keep up with them damn foreigners…” All the creative stuff gets thrown out the window as “useless” in this fast-moving world.

Yet that’s the stuff of which all progress is made. It’s the stuff of genius. New cures, new technologies, new works of art – they don’t come from hitting the books harder. They come from unleashing more of the creativity.

Very few schools focus on helping students with that. Instead it’s all about becoming subservient, listening to the teacher, learning the subject material “correctly” and regurgitating it on the next exam.

That stuff teaches young people the screwed up lesson that success is all about getting the answers “just right.” Hey, when you’re doing something like creating a new business, there is no “right answer.” If you search for the right answer, you get paralyzed.

I’ve seen it happen to more than one entrepreneur friend, who goes to seminar after seminar, seeking the “answer” to how to make their business successful… when the answer was inside of that person the whole time, and just needed an expression of creativity to let it out.

How many world-changers went to Ivory Tower University(ITU)?

(I almost wrote a university whose name starts with H – but decided their lawyers and/or marketing department might get in a kerfluffle if I mention them by name).

So, I don’t have fancy statistics to prove my case, but I quickly thought to myself, who are some of the most influential people of the past 100 years that come to mind?

Some random names that pop up for me are: Mother Theresa, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gahndi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, The Dali Lama, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford…

Of the names that came to mind, not a single one of these world-changers attended Ivory Tower University. Of the university that they did attend, it was a minor contributor, if at all, to their world-changing creations.

Point is: universities don’t focus on creating great creators. In fact they usually do the opposite, which is to stifle the creativity. (That’s why I’m no longer with a university).

The typical approach that universities take to education is to scare students into conformity, via grades, an endless series of exams, and a pre-digested view of the “facts.”

Now, for my academic friends who are riled by this statement, don’t worry. I realize that there are some of you who do things differently. Some of you encourage students to develop their own independent thinking and creativity. Some of you teach classes by supporting inquisitiveness. Kudos to you, seriously! At the same time, realize that you are in the tiny minority who actually cares about this stuff, and that the overall momentum of the system is very much in the direction of conformity. That’s what I’m speaking about.

So it’s time to make it a wrap, by encouraging you to let that creation out

Creating is a bit like giving birth. It’s a long period of pregnancy, followed by an often painful delivery, and finally, relief!  Many of us stay “pregnant” with those unborn ideas for our whole life… and the result is never healthy.

If you’ve got something great to create, now is your time. Don’t hold it back any longer. Find a way to move forward on your creating, of whatever kind suits you – and close your ears to the endless naysayers you may encounter along the journey!

Treat their input as you would treat toxic green slime mold growing on food – get rid of it!



Dr. Morgan Giddings




    6 replies to "Got something to create? Watch out for toxic green slime."

    • Susan Longley

      Thank you for this is a wise and thought provoking post

      • Morgan

        You’re welcome, Susan!

    • Jan

      Thanks for this very timely nudge.

    • adriano

      Hi Morgan,
      it’s funny I got this mail about toxicity of slime molds in creative processes….
      I have been working on D.discoideum, a social amoeba formerly known as slime mold… and it has marked the rise and fall of my scientific “creation” just taking me down all the way to a complete lack of it! They must really be toxic! Unfortunately they also are the model organism I use(d)….. any hints for such a sticky situation….?

      • Morgan

        Hi Adriano,
        I got an email from someone else in defense of the poor slime mold. She pointed out that most slime molds are actually quite friendly and amenable to lab growth, and scolded me that I should have used the term “toxic sludge” instead. Good thing for a world of diversity.

    • adriano

      Hi Morgan, I think it’s worth pointing out that dicty went from “slime molds” to “social amoebae” though the old terminology is still used sometimes. The reason for if is exactly in the poor and unfair attribution of Slime Mold to these amoebozoa (the even have a clade of their own… :-D). So I understand the complaint of the other person, but wouldn’t put the blame on you for having appropriately used the terminology.
      My point was the funny paradox: dicty have been toxic, at least for the combination of my research and in my country, but not because they are slimy or moldish. And if I wiped them off there would go with them my (veeeeeeery little) residual hope in some nut funding owner or later.
      PS: who picks up the avatars in this forum….? 😀

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