It’s about heart.
Life tends to get in the way of our plans. We think we are in control of our lives(and our plans), but really, we are only in control of how we respond to our lives. Life doesn’t care. It throws up roadblocks. Stress at work. Strained relationships. Weakened immune systems. It gets in the way of what we think we should be doing. So we roll with it.
I roll with it quite a lot as a professional creative. I work on projects that require creative thought and execution. These projects need a high enough level of effort and intellectual discipline that people like me get paid pretty well to do it. I am hired not just for what I know to do, but also for what I know not to do. Design for business is all too often more about not screwing up a solution than it is about creative excellence.
When that happens, I focus on the craft. The appreciation of my craft is what keeps me engaged. My belief in professionalism is what keeps me honest. The desire to create is what keeps me coming back. The pay is how I keep score. But the score really only matters in the other parts of my life.
Still, I have an unquenchable desire to create something with heart.
If you are lucky, what you create at work has heart. That isn’t always the case. If you are really lucky, the team you are a part of has heart. Sometimes that is all it takes. The love and appreciation of the people on your team that you go to battle with every day. Whatever you do—if you are like me—you’ll realize that the external rewards never quite measure up to the internal ones.
If you want to be a working creative and you want to last in this business, keep your eye on what really got you started. Keep your eye on why you chose the creative path over the safe path. Remember what is important and don’t get distracted by what is not.
It’s not about the game.
It’s about heart.