I’m fresh out of Blogging school, and starting with a catchy headline is a must-do. Whadya think?
So now that I (hopefully) have your attention, I’d like to share an editorial cartoon that a former ‘non-creative’ colleague shared with me a few years back from cgfrog.com. His attached message said, “I thought you’d appreciate this. It’s YOU isn’t it?”
I appreciated it immediately, especially coming from a business strategy guy. It made me laugh, and then I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit…
How could my lifelong and seemingly insurmountable struggle as a misunderstood working creative be so perfectly expressed in such a succinct and practical manner? I loved what it said yet I hated what it revealed. I felt vindicated and exposed at the same time. There were so many conflicting emotions. Seriously, it shook me more than I felt it should have, and I wasn’t sure why.
And then, after a few days at work, it just kept getting clearer. See, as a career creative director and strategist it was my job to understand the root of the problem and then set a plan to resolve it. Now that my struggle had been exposed to me so plainly, how could I avoid trying to fix it?!
What was I going to do about this?
That comic strip was the catalyst for the journey I began almost five years ago, when I realized the root cause of my struggle was ME. Yep. Moi. I was my own antagonist. At the time, and several other times in my career, I was feeling terribly under-valued, unappreciated, overworked, and exhausted. It was everyone else’s fault. I believed I was the misunderstood Designer in that story… rah rah rah!
Looking back, I realize I wasn’t him at all, because that designer speaks up and very quickly and confidently quantifies his/her value, and does so in a rational and non-defensive way. He’s not battling injustice, or righting some wrong, he’s just doing his job well, reminding others, when necessary, of the value he brings to the job. Huh… Could it really be that simple?
Today, I can tell you that it IS that simple. However it’s NOT easy. Especially when you have some bad work/life habits to break, like me. I made work and everything around it too important: Money, status, reputation and recognition. You know, real Hollywood S#!T.
My Journey to Wiseguy Status
In 2014 I left my VP-Level job, went back to working for myself, got into fitness and nutrition, and just this year grew a pretty awesome beard.
I still tend to care more than I want to about things like money, status and being the best at what I do (over it!), but I manage it. Often,I think about that comic strip and it reminds me where I’ve come, achieving creative ‘Wiseguy’ status – a title I’ve given to myself, and strive to maintain. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to author this blog… 😉
Take a Pause and Remember
I’ve put together a little gallery of four things you must remind yourself of almost every day. They were and continue to be a useful tool when I need to take a creative pause and remember what’s most important.
- It’s just a job – We’re not saving lives here people.
- It’s just money – there’s a lot to be had, don’t panic.
- Time is of the essence – so stop wasting it all on work.
- Who’s taking care of you – the answer needs to be you.
Cheers! And until next time!