A brief(ish) rant by Johnny Crowder
Working in a creative agency can downward-dog your brain into a flexible pretzel of brilliance… OR it can compress your spirit into a singularity of cynicism.
But here’s the good news: The choice is yours.
I’ve seen so many blameless concepts bleed out at the hands of a client, coworker, or computer glitch that, if I started getting teardrop tattoos, my artist would run out of ink. On some days, any workplace can feel like a graveyard. Cobwebbed tombstones of clever one-liners and eye-catching visuals litter the lifeless landscape.
So, if the choice is ours, why would anyone choose that?
The truth is that you don’t choose that option—Your ego does.
Your ego is what scowls when someone else coughs up a better tagline. Your ego is what secretly wishes a client would shoot down a genius campaign because it doesn’t boast your byline. Your ego is what pledges itself to a righteous vendetta the moment your cheeky script becomes fodder for the recycle bin.
This is why your ego needs to take PTO for the rest of your career.
There are safe ideas and absurd ones. There are groundbreaking ideas and predictable ones. But at the end of the day, you don’t get to crown the victor.
Beyond a certain mile marker, your ideas aren’t your own anymore. After you hone and refine and slather your million-dollar pitch with lip gloss, you hand it off to a client… And there is a very real possibility that they could ask you to start over. From scratch.
But guess what? You’re better for it. You’re better for raising it from infancy and watching it grow, change, and pass away before your very eyes.
When your creation is cremated, tell your ego to kick rocks. You spent all day utilizing parts of your cranium that other humans don’t even realize they possess, and that’s a triumph all its own.
Don’t just celebrate your ideas—Celebrate good ones, no matter who cooks them up. Stand behind your own work, but don’t defend it with rabid loyalty and bared canines. The people around you worked just as hard as you did to bring their bacon to the table. Every day is a new chance to hit a homer, and tomorrow’s W could have your name written all over it.
If you struggle to maintain that perspective, just keep this in mind: As creatives, we are fortunate beyond measure to call this “work.” Never, ever forget that.