We have a very precarious balance within us that sees us straddling the fence between supremely confident know-it-alls and highly insecure children. (Full disclosure; I’m as guilty as any of what I just described, but I have learned to try to make a habit of looking internally first. I may not necessarily need concrete answers, but I do need to identify personal pitfalls, self-induced potholes and obvious alleys marked where not to go. But then, that brings me to it…)
We spend a large amount of our time showing & telling to the world based on our “vision” or “view.” We’ve spent so much effort defending said outlooks and bracing for the creative fight that our own take has become dangerously omnipotent, clouding our own sight in the process, obstructing that view we thought we had. That often leads to a very simple and common misstep; in the absolute belief in our stance, we forget to check-in with ourselves. What’s the plan? Are we even staying anywhere close to consistent? Has momentum shifted? Is the current flowing in our favor? Is fighting it the right move, or is it best to allow the flow to take us to better shores? I know this sounds a bit new-age’ish and existential, but the answers are not the goal. There may very well be no clear destination. The process of finding the high-ground and getting a top-side look at our own inner reaches may be the thing.
Most of the successful people—note I said “people” not just “designers”—that I know are in a constant state of evaluation. Not for reasons of definitive change, but for the practice of constant observation. Our skills of external observation are honed and sharpened, but how much of an eye have we turned on the inner landscape? Again, I wish I could give you a nugget to hold onto. Some one thing that could serve as the point, but that’s just it; this is more about crafting a continual skill rather than finding a prize or trinket that leads to the end-game.
If we get in the practice of using our highly developed senses of observation—which we often claim makes us who we are—and turning that on ourselves, what would we find? What new things would we discover? What avenues might we have overlooked as they sit in plain sight waiting for us to simply look that direction? What new theories have you developed over many years of life, let alone the career? In the search for the next, most unique thing, we forget that we are born with a fingerprint unlike any other. The act of trying to be unique is almost comical. We already are unique, and we’d know that if we observed “self” a bit more intently. We are a wellspring that could sustain self almost infinitely, if we give ourselves credit for the life experiences, not just the work resume—but that’s a whole different subject.
We are trained through our eyes and it’s been poetically offered up that the eyes are the windows… but then, don’t the best windows work both ways?
BTW: Steve Gordon, Jr. will be speaking at CFC 2011 on what it’s like to be a “24/7 creative.” Sign up for the newsletter here to make sure you get all the news first.