Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hammering on the ego

David Sizemore, a rather talented graphic designer whom I'm really pleased to consider a friend, has a really excellent recent blog post. This post originates out of Dave's recently attending a design conference and wrestling with the conundrum or philosophical state of choosing between fulfilling work versus paying work. The last paragraph and the next to last sentence in that paragraph is where the meat of David's thoughts lay. He states "...I’m trying to figure out if my ego can take hammering out a solid living for myself and my family doing good, smaller work."
Doing work that may be loved takes a certain toll or has particular consequences. It's really romantic to state "do what you love" but it's something else entirely to actually do that type of work because our egos, shaped and called upon and worked at by the advertising, writing and people around us, don't, usually, want to be hammered on. They want to be massaged and stroked, frankly. Understanding up front what type of hammering might occur and that hammering is inevitable is going to give a better understanding of the worth of attempting to do what one loves for a living. Beyond the personal ego trip there's the economic implications of what stuff one can buy or the ways one's family gets supported in attempting to do good, fulfilling work.

If you go to Liga Masiva you will find that after 3 years in business this really awesome coffee company is closing their doors. In the section of the page on "What Didn't Work" they write "...we failed to build a strong enough consumer community around this mission and failed to create a product that was so remarkable that it would spread ... at a scale necessary to support such an ambitious project."
If you go to David's blog and go down to his second post, you will see an animated FAILURE looping in an infinite circle. Beneath that image is a post where David describes his inability to start a t-shirt company. Toward the end of that post he states "But I did enjoy this process, even though it was a failure. I learned to embrace a teeny-tiny failure, and I think it’s given me the willingness to fail at bigger things. "

How failure gets processed demonstrates how well prepared the ego is for the hammering process. And not just giving lip service to learning from failure but good engagement and interaction with the implications and necessary steps to pick up what is left and try again.

To quote a poet "everyone makes mistakes /like it’s the only way we learn." ~David Bazan "'Messes"

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