5 + 8
An advertising, branding and creative strategy agency in Houston, Texas

Words + Internet

This plus this equals awesomeness

No one cares about this. I am not adding any value. I’m a narcissist. I’m wasting my time. I’m wasting other’s time. I’m redundant. I just keep writing about the same crap over and over again. This is dumb.

Current status: Confidence▼ Competence▲
I was feeling negative, insecure and overly concerned about what others think. I have written 45 of these (I counted). I know that I can, and I was just lacking the confidence. Ironically, every jotted line of self-serving melodrama made me feel better. I was able to release it from my brain and see how it limits me and locks me in. Negativity and insecurity paralyze creativity. Creativity is more about confidence than competence. However, competence is required for a career. When you have confidence and competence, you’re utterly unstoppable. I will now attempt to reverse engineer how you get from ▼▼ to ▲▲. I am using tiny triangles because I like the look of these tiny triangles.

The Beginning: Confidence▼ Competence▼
I would say approximately 85% of the graphic designers working today are not great. Actually, by definition, that is true. If I am being honest with myself, I am probably safely nestled in the ‘good’ sector. But, I pushed myself to be good. I wasn’t gifted good; no one asked me to be a graphic designer. I decided at 25 years old to stop playing video games and chase something that was foreign, scary and no one gave me permission to pursue. My confidence was low, and my competence lower.

I went back to school. When I arrived I was one of the worst designers in the class. Orapan and Edgar made me look like a toddler with a broken, fat crayon. When I graduated, I am proud to report that I ranked almost exactly in the middle. I know this because they placed our final projects and work in a room in order of how well we performed. That’s a hell of a way to dole out report cards, huh? But, it’s also a hell of a way to give you a very real sense of your current status. Something we could probably all use a little more of in our lives.

2007 Adam: Confidence▲ Competence▼

2007 Adam: Confidence▲ Competence▼

The Middle: Confidence▲ Competence▼
I couldn’t wait to share my new found talents with the world. However, my new status put me on a highway to the danger zone — high confidence, low competence. Wait, why is competence still low? Because I just graduated. This is where grads get it wrong and where they tick off employers. They feel accomplished and mistake it for competence. Congratulations on finishing school. It is an accomplishment and you learned some skills. But, you have never worked at this job or in this industry or at this pace before. So calm down, quiet down, and listen up. I, of course, did none of those things.

You may be at the beginning or you may be in the middle. But, wherever you are, you are not stuck there. You’re just currently there. Just like how most designers are not great. Of course they’re not. That’s why we use the word great. Same with writers, illustrators, developers, actuaries and acrobats.

The Career: Confidence▲ Competence▲
I am good at this now. I say this not to be smug, but for the exact opposite reason. I want to pull back the curtain of creativity. I want to show that anyone who wants to be ‘creative’ can do it. But they should treat it like a goal and not a gift. Any creative endeavor is just like training for a half-marathon or learning a new language. If you always wanted to be a writer, then start writing, dumb-dumb! If you want to learn how to draw, start drawing, do-do. I am not sure where all the name-calling is coming from, but complacency riles me up. If we keep working at something, we may never be great, but we can get pretty damn good.

Think about that thing you want to do but are afraid to do. Think about that thing that you want to do, but believe you could NEVER do. Now imagine doing it and holding it up to the world. And, imagine the world saying, “You’re good at this” back to you. Big smile.

People care about this. I am adding value. I’m not a narcissist. I’m not wasting my time. I’m not wasting other’s time. I’m essential. I keep writing about interesting stuff over and over again. This is good.

Adam Faust2 Comments