Tyler Durden’s 8 Rules of Innovation

Tyler Durden

We all want to do remarkable things, and lead remarkable lives.

No one wants to spend the day engaged in mundane productivity in pursuit of a meaningless consumer existence. Certainly not you, right?

So why do we find it so hard to break out of our rut and do truly innovative things?

Because it’s hard. Because it often requires us to significantly alter our perspectives and step outside our comfort zones.

It’s almost like becoming another person.

I Know This Because Tyler Knows This…

If you haven’t seen the movie Fight Club (or read Chuck Palahniuk’s excellent novel), I won’t spoil the fantastic plot twist where we come to understand who Tyler Durden really is. The story isn’t for everyone, but if you think it’s about fighting, you’re on the wrong track.

At its core, Fight Club is about living the life you truly want to live, and the hard path to getting there. Tyler helps the story’s nameless hero (usually referred to as Jack) down that path to enlightenment, so maybe what Tyler says can help the rest of us as well.

Luckily, Tyler says a lot of things that apply directly to innovative action. Here are his 8 rules for creative people to live by.

Tyler’s First Rule of Innovation:

“No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.”

This is the most important lesson, and it’s the one people struggle with and resist. Tim Ferriss advocates the 80/20 rule of productivity, where you focus relentlessly on the 20% of the actions that lead to 80% of the return. People see this as nice in theory, but not practical.

But believe it or not, this is how I’ve been running my businesses for the last 10 years. I used to actually feel guilty because I wasn’t constantly “getting things done” at a maniacal pace, even though I was enjoying increasingly significant success each year. It’s only been in the last few years I’ve realized that this approach is essential for entrepreneurs and creative professionals of all stripes.

The 80/20 rule of productivity requires radical elimination, or letting that which does not matter to creative moves truly slide. Use that newfound time for creative thinking that leads to innovative action, and you will succeed, guaranteed.

Tyler’s Second Rule of Innovation:

“No fear! No distractions! The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide!”

Seriously. Don’t break the first two rules.

Tyler’s Third Rule of Innovation:

“I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let’s evolve, let the chips fall where they may.”

Let’s face it, when we break Tyler’s first two rules of innovation and distract ourselves with foolish productivity, it’s often because we’re afraid (which also violates Tyler’s first two rules). We’re afraid of failure, ridicule, risk, mediocrity, and perhaps even success itself.

If you’re going to evolve and grow as a creative person, you’re going to make mistakes. In fact, you should start making twice as many mistakes as soon as possible if you want to have an innovative breakthrough.

Make mistakes and let the chips fall where they may. You might like the landing.

Tyler’s Fourth Rule of Innovation:

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

Oh, yeah… don’t be afraid to make big mistakes. More importantly, don’t worry about everything going according to plan. In fact, if everything’s going according to plan, there’s a good chance nothing remarkable is getting done.

They say life is what happens while you’re making other plans. Innovation is what happens when you recognize when to change the plan and perhaps the entire game. Maybe your initial plan falls apart, or maybe you simply need to throw the current plan away.

Don’t let the plan restrict the freedom to have a game-changing idea, and act on it, at any time. Losing everything may be the best thing that ever happens to you.

Tyler’s Fifth Rule of Innovation:

“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis.”

When we talk about fear, risk, mistakes, and losing it all, what are we really afraid of? Are we defined by the stuff we own, or would we prefer to be defined by what we accomplish and create for the world?

I’m not saying give all your stuff away or take foolish risks that harm your family or yourself. I’m saying don’t let the stuff you own start to own you to the point that you can’t live the life you want to live and do the things you want to do.

Tyler’s Sixth Rule of Innovation:

“People do it everyday, they talk to themselves… they see themselves as they’d like to be, they don’t have the courage you have, to just run with it.”

I bet you’ve got a great idea right now, bouncing around in your head. What are you going to do with it?

Be what you’d like to be, and do what you’d like to do… it really is that simple. Having the courage to just run with it is the difference between a fulfilling life and a life full of regret.

Tyler’s Seventh Rule of Innovation:

“Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.”

On the other hand, wearing black hipster clothing and hanging in cafes smoking Gaulloises cigarettes does not make you creative. Buying a MacBook Pro and an iPhone doesn’t get it done either.

Creativity and innovation are mainly about hard work. It’s about constantly coming up with ideas and thinking through problems instead of vegging out. And it’s about taking action, plain and simple.

Tyler’s Eighth Rule of Innovation:

“This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.”

First, you have to know, not fear, know that someday you are going to die. Until you know that, you have no sense of urgency. You think you have all the time in the world to do amazing things, but you may not live to see that particular someday.

So quit reading articles for a bit and go do what really needs to be done today.

About the Author: Brian Clark is a new media entrepreneur and co-founder of Lateral Action. Subscribe today to get free updates by email or RSS.

How to get creative work done in an "always on" world

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Comments

  1. Seriously a badass post. LOVED Fight Club. Actually, I got in a fight last night. Feels good.

  2. Yeah, great article and concept. It’s aggressive and freeing to act like Tyler.

  3. Very nice inspiring article.. it made my day

  4. Rule #9, if you forget any of the rules, by all means, watch the movie yet again. I do.

  5. I freakin’ LOVE this post. This movie NAILS it! And Tyler Durden is my hero:)

    Fight Club came to mind for me when I was working with a coaching client that seemed to be kicking his own ass daily. I requested he watch it and find the similarities in his own life.

    It inspored this post from my Passion Meets Purpose blog last year:

    http://tinyurl.com/5zo4sx

    Thanks for the many quotes today on Twitter…they were very motivating and great reminders.

  6. This was so awesome!!!

    Every rule made a huge difference.

    Thanks a mill.

  7. So motivational – had to promote it on my blog: http://bodysoulconnect.com/post/69026430/motivation

    Not my usual type of post, but I couldn’t pass it up. Thanks so much!

  8. www.QuranReading.com says:

    Hi,
    This is a nice post.You are thinking well.Here you have also guide the people who do not know about them self.Brilliant approach and nice effort.

  9. SWEET! This movie was just on this weekend. I watched it twice in one weekend, and this movie is how old. But it keeps calling me!

  10. a business model i can get behind…
    cheers.

  11. I love it. To move forward we need to turn loose of all the stuff we hold. It’ like the story of catching monkeys by putting food in a bottle so the monkey can get his hand in and grab the food, but can’t get his hand out unless he turns loose.

  12. Inspiring article! Thanks so very much!!

  13. Outstanding! And he has his own soap brand! I loves it…

  14. I had to see the movie once again after reading this post. Seing it in a new light.
    I loved the movie from first glance and was spellbound by its deconstructivism, and perspective on society.

    I have yet again identified why this movie suits me so good.

    This post is brilliant.

    Now, we make soap.

  15. Words of the wise.

    Why do you think rich people are the way they are? They didn’t accomplish it by doing the work that everyone else is doing.

    I particularly enjoyed his talk about living with the shit you buy. So often I find myself considering buying things just for the sake of having it, or if one day I might need it for later. I am too a slave of commercialism, but this blog post really helped change my mindset and I will return back in case I ever have the urge to slump back into mediocrity.

  16. Awesome post Brian, loved it!!

  17. Bravo! Great piece using my all time favorite movie. It’s all so very right-on. Good work!

  18. You DO NOT post about fight club! If this is your first comment, you have to retweet!

    Very nice analogies. As always, good stuff.

    – Jack’s raging bile duct

  19. grade A article . just excellent .

    I don’t like to brag but I truly understood this movie . and I truly understood these rules – not in their impending doom manner but in real life examples . after seeing it I went out and bought the book . after buying the book went out again and bought some more of palahniuck’s work . and I wasn’t disappointed in any way .

    but one thing I never thought of is taking these rules and putting them next to small parts of my life ( such as my job , or my hobby’s and such ) .

    I gotta be honest with you : after reading this article I realized that I didn’t need to read the article . when I saw the title something just clicked in my brain and I got a flash of what you we’re trying to say with this article .

    I just tooked them as guides for ( my or an ) entire life . but one thing that happens is that when I do this I actually lose the ability to improve my life .

    now , after reading the article and getting that ‘click’ in my head , I realize that these rules should have been looked at as upgrades to a car – with life being the car . you can’t just buy parts for upgrade and place them in your car . it won’t do you much good . you need to take each part and install it properly , where it should be installed .

    great article … and a nice ‘click’ for me to start my day with .

  20. Interesting perspective on this, being unemployed (lots of that going around, swine flu and unemployment).

    Since I’ve seen no likelihood of a Real Job soon, I can at least feel better devoting large amounts of time to podcasting and blogging and audiobook production & such.

    Not making a living at it, but that’s okay; not making a living at anything else, either. And at least when that day comes, I have Stuff to point to that I’ve accomplished, even during this time when I’m not filling in another paragraph in my resume. And whether or not I do this New Media Stuff during any given minute, I still end up losing that minute forever. Ought to do something with that minute. Might as well be something I feel good about.

    And I hate khaki.

  21. Love it. The world of neurohacking needs some flavor and this has got it. Go Brian. Go Chuck. Go Tyler.

  22. Excellent article. The book and movie were great AND I think you have done them both a great service here by summarizing Tyler’s modes of thinking and innovation. I think everyone can apply at least some small piece of Tyler’s Rules of Innovation to their lives – both personally and professionally. For those that don’t or won’t they will live in a permanent Dilbert-esque lifestyle that ultimately rewards nor inspires anyone.

    I hope you are working on similar blog posts about my other favorite movies – The Usual Suspects and Being There. Wait — Maybe I need to take these on. Stay tuned.

  23. GeneralAnonymousYouth says:

    We could all learn something from this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHWRo5gzxl0

    Welcome to fight club. 😉

  24. Stumbled across this and gave it the thumbs up – and interesting read (and some interesting comments too).

  25. Someone once told me, ‘Whatever you do, you sacrifice’. There’s one TD could have justifiably added in.

    BB

  26. Thanks man. That’s a great reminder. I feel stronger and motivated as ever to achieve my goals.

  27. What a great way to look at personal development! Compare it to an often movie – FightClub.

    I agree. The premise of the movie is not about fighting. It’s about overcoming fears. It’s about challenging yourself. Overall, it’s about living life.

    The part about fear is certainly true. Fear can cripple our personal development. So many people get caught up in ‘safe’ careers out of fear and not wanting to try something new. I take about that here:

    http://www.time-management-ninja.com/setting-career-goals.html

    The second part about letting go is essential. Do define yourself by your ‘things.’ At your essence you are consciousness. You are life. Once we lose the personal attachment we have with things, we are much more empowered to take action and we are much less worried about what others think.

    An awesome book is The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. Definitely check it out. After reading it I gained an entirely new perspective on life.

  28. A kick-a$$ post if I should say so myself.

    “This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.”

    Yeah… 29,000 days from the time you’re born. Are you making the most of it? I doubt it. Tick tock homie.

  29. Hey Brian….
    that was a great article. I must say that Fight Club is one of those films that has a meditation like effect on the mind. Zen-like instant wake-up call…

    “this is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time”.

    Othere great resources along a similar line, and equally anarchic are The Dice Man and Prometheus Rising.

  30. Nahum Correa Ruvalcaba says:

    I almost cryied.

    The truth is out there but the basics are inner work.

  31. Cold stark truth without the prepackaging required to be socially acceptable. Excellent, get on with having a real life.

  32. I just think its funny how we’re all sitting here, writing comments praising the article. And none of us are heeding to its message.

  33. Marissa dont talk by me.

    I say…. Innovation is not out there, in anywhere.

    Innovation is an state of mind, inside myself. And i think everyone have it.

    On its own way.

  34. This remains the best article on this site by far. Well done Brian!

  35. This is an extraordinary article!!!!

  36. I bet I’ve commented on this article already a long time ago, but I want to do it again. This article sums up what Fight Club is all about. And I LOVE that movie for that rules of Tyler. That what Tyler does live, he inspires us to be the same. To break any rule and just BE it. it? Not live our dream. Be our dream..

  37. Awesome article, fight club is one of my favorite movies. I always get a lot of motivation when I watch it. Thanks for this list, reminds me to get into that mindset again!

  38. It takes a lot of resolve and determination to realize your dream. Especially when the dream is all about doing the things you REALLY need doing.

  39. Great article, I love Fight Club!
    “No Fear, No Distractions” – If I could only abide!

  40. Best post I’ve read today.
    Fight club was a great movie and book, and you’ve given it an interesting new angle!
    Daniel

  41. This movie i think is one of the best what i saw. People ususaly go to work, sit at home, watching tv, and that all. People don`t live, there only existence…
    So great job with this article…

  42. I am not much into reading, but somehow I got to read nice information on your site. Simple to understand and helpful. We will look forward for your future updates. Thanks!

  43. Very nice movie thx.

  44. Some great tips present in a way that really appeals to me. Fight Club Rules!

    Damien

  45. Project Mayhem Space Monkey says:

    “You think you have all the time in the world to do amazing things, but you may not live to see that particular someday.Brian Clark is a new media entrepreneur”

    media entrepreneur

    media entrepreneur

    “perhaps even success itself.”

    “Self-Improvement is Masterbation.”-Tyler Durden

    “God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off. ” Tyler Durden

    Tyler Durden: We’re consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.

    Narrator: Martha Stewart.

    Tyler Durden: Fuck Martha Stewart. Martha’s polishing the brass on the Titanic. It’s all going down, man. So fuck off with your sofa units and Strinne green stripe patterns.

    “Hitting BOTTOM isn’t a weekend retreat. It’s not a goddamn seminar.” -Tyler Durden

    “In the world I see – you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You’ll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you’ll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway.”- Tyler Durden

    THis iS PROJECT MAYHEM!! IN TYLER WE TRUST

  46. Project Mayhem Space Monkey says:

    “You think you have all the time in the world to do amazing things, but you may not live to see that particular someday.Brian Clark is a new media entrepreneur”

    media entrepreneur

    “perhaps even success itself.”

    “Self-Improvement is Masterbation.”-Tyler Durden

    “God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off. ” Tyler Durden

    Tyler Durden: We’re consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.

    Narrator: Martha Stewart.

    Tyler Durden: Fuck Martha Stewart. Martha’s polishing the brass on the Titanic. It’s all going down, man. So fuck off with your sofa units and Strinne green stripe patterns.

    “Hitting BOTTOM isn’t a weekend retreat. It’s not a goddamn seminar.” -Tyler Durden

    “In the world I see – you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You’ll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you’ll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway.”- Tyler Durden

    THis iS PROJECT MAYHEM!! IN TYLER WE TRUST

  47. The fourth rule-Dont be afraid to make huge mistakes.Would that really be applicable to a business entrepreneur when he has responsibilities and accountability?

    I do NOT criticize the theories above,reaching to my level of understanding and having a different perception towards things,i do agree with them but i would really love to know where and how can i exactly apply the theories.Thanks

  48. No criticism but i would really want to know how the FOURTH RULE is applicable to a Business entrepreneur like you where you have responsibility and accountability.

  49. Nice piece sir.
    yet becarefull with the 8th rule it might spoil the plot twist 🙂

  50. I loved the movie, though I never thought to look at it from this perspective. It is absolutely true that most of us are afraid to truly go after our hopes and dreams. You only live once, you have to take advantage of it.

  51. I just wanted to say…thanks.Really.

  52. wow Brian

    I can honestly say this could be a real an eye opener for whole bunch of people. Including myself. F……..g great article.

    its going into my archives to be read again and again.