You Are Creative And You Are Wasting Your Life

The Most Important Piece Of Career Advice You Will Ever Read

Forget all those best-selling, life affirming books which “reveal” valuable lessons that you should follow to have a happy life or a lucrative career.

Linds Redding, an award winning graphic designer who worked in the advertising industry for nearly 30 years, started a blog in 2011, the day he found out he had esophageal cancer.

The piece he wrote on March 11, 2012 called A Short Lesson In Perspective is a must read for anyone who is indulged in a creative profession or aspires to one. Even if you do not consider yourself creative, this is still well worth the few minutes it will take to read. It is not technically advice as much as it is self-reflection that has enormous value to the reader.

It is 2,900 words long, but even for those with short attention spans, I urge you to read to the end.

The whole article can, and should, be read here, and an excerpt (not from the beginning) is reproduced below:

My old life looks, and feels, very different from the outside.

And here’s the thing.

It turns out I didn’t actually like my old life nearly as much as I thought I did. I know this now because I occasionally catch up with my old colleagues and work-mates. They fall over each other to  enthusiastically show me the latest project they’re working on. Ask my opinion. Proudly show off their technical prowess (which is not inconsiderable.) I find myself glazing over but politely listen as they brag about who’s had the least sleep and the most takeaway food. “I haven’t seen my wife since January, I can’t feel my legs any more and I think I have scurvy but another three weeks and we’ll be done. It’s got to be done by then The client’s going on holiday. What do I think?”

What do I think?

I think you’re all fucking mad. Deranged. So disengaged from reality it’s not even funny. It’s a fucking TV commercial. Nobody give a shit.

This has come as quite a shock I can tell you. I think, I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole thing was a bit of a con. A scam. An elaborate hoax.

The scam works like this:

1. The creative industry operates largely by holding ‘creative’ people ransom to their own self-image, precarious sense of self-worth, and fragile – if occasionally out of control ego. We tend to set ourselves impossibly high standards, and are invariably our own toughest critics. Satisfying our own lofty demands is usually a lot harder than appeasing any client, who in my experience tend to have disappointingly low expectations. Most artists and designers I know would rather work all night than turn in a sub-standard job. It is a universal truth that all artists think they a frauds and charlatans, and live in constant fear of being exposed. We believe by working harder than anyone else we can evaded detection. The bean-counters rumbled this centuries ago and have been profitably exploiting this weakness ever since. You don’t have to drive creative folk like most workers. They drive themselves. Just wind ‘em up and let ‘em go.

2. Truly creative people tend not to be motivated by money. That’s why so few of us have any. The riches we crave are acknowledgment and appreciation of the ideas that we have and the things that we make. A simple but sincere “That’s quite good.” from someone who’s opinion we respect (usually a fellow artisan) is worth infinitely more than any pay-rise or bonus. Again, our industry masters cleverly exploit this insecurity and vanity by offering glamorous but worthless trinkets and elaborately staged award schemes to keep the artists focused and motivated. Like so many demented magpies we flock around the shiny things and would peck each others eyes out to have more than anyone else. Handing out the odd gold statuette is a whole lot cheaper than dishing out stock certificates or board seats.  (continued on Lind’s web site)

Linds Redding passed away at the age of 52, October 31, 2012.

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