Beauty is embarrassing.
I am reading Seth Godin‘s book Linchpin, that I originally heard about through a NY Creative Interns recommendation. Right now I’m really into learning and reading as much about entering the business world as possible (… as much as I find not-boring), and Seth Godin falls right in there. If you’ve never heard of Seth Godin, he’s an author and speaker who focuses on marketing, with a penchant for supporting the creative industry. He also runs one of the most popular marketing blogs in the world. (Check it out. Its, um, pretty good.) Anyway, the book talks a lot about, not necessarily needing to change your job, but being indispensable in the workplace.
It got me thinking about stuff.
To me, the guts of the book emphasize: whenever you are working anywhere, it essential to input your identity and creativity into your work, because that is what makes you indispensable. Its essential to do this, not just because it feels good, or creates a better experience for you, or makes you happier with your job, but because it is better for the company and makes you necessary.
Making yourself ‘indispensable’ means that if you left, they could not replace you as you. I’m not saying they couldn’t get another nurse, junior graphic designer, store salesman. I’m saying that they could not have another person that could add to their company in the same way you could – with your unique perspective and background and identity and creativity. (Because I don’t care who you are, EVERYONE can be creative. And if you think you aren’t, then you are just either boxing in what you think ‘creative’ means, or being lazy.) Your ‘replacement’ could even be someone very good, but they could not replace you in the company. And that makes you ESSENTIAL to the company’s identity.
If you are a waiter, and you realize that its better to have all the wait-staff learn how to use the dishwasher incase the dishwashing worker goes to the bathroom and slows down the line, that’s creativity. If you work at a mill and realize that it’d be faster to work in relay than to carry materials back and forth, that is inputing your identity and creativity into your work.
What are some of your qualitites that make you indispensible? I think one of my best qualities is that I crave pushing the envelope, even when its easy to think realistically. (I try to never be ‘realistic’, coming from a too-much-feasibility, engineering background.) Tell me about some of your awesome traits and creativity in the workplace. :)
“I always thought about, in early life, our objective, certainly people in the design profession, is to look professional, and to feel professional…. and you wanted to have that veneer and that sense of authority… and it was all we really wanted to do – you come out of school and you want your work to look like these marvellously slick, professional things that were in the world…”
“And then at a certain point, you reach professional level, and your work looks like that, and you realize its not enough. That merely, getting to a point where your work looks good enough to be called professional is just the starting point.”
“…as a metaphor… when you start to learn how to draw… you are so overwhelmed with the difficulty with making things look like what they are… and you almost die trying to control your nerve endings so that the object looks like its supposed to, and you spend years doing that. And then finally you get to the point when you finally draw something that looks like what they are.”
“And then you discover, that’s not the point. That being able to draw something that looks like something, is nothing. That that is only the starting point. Now you have to ask yourself, how do I make a good drawing, or an expressive drawing, or a drawing that means something. Because the ability to only make it accurate, is actually a low-level ability. Even though its taken you years to get to that point, its not very relevant. But there’s no other way to get there.
“The same thing is true of your work. You sort of strive to make it look good, and make it look as good as your peers, and make it looks as good as the other stuff in the “Art Directors Annual”, and so on. And then at a certain point if you continue and persevere, you realize that’s not good enough. You have to go beyond that level, in order to engage that other thing, which is true expressive content, true meaning.”
-Milton Glaser, Design Matters
A metaphor that, I think, applies to all aspects of work, and anyone who wants to be truly great at what they do.
“Roberto Burle Marx (1909 – 1994) was a Brazilian landscape architect (as well as a painter, print maker,ecologist, naturalist, artist and musician) whose designs of parks and gardens made him world famous. He is accredited with having introduced modernist landscape architecture to Brazil. He was known as a modern nature artist and a public urban space designer.” here