"Courage" for Concept Kicks

A few months back Concept Kicks asked me to write on the topic of "Courage." It was open ended and gave me an opportunity to try to verbalize something I had been thinking about for a while. Given where I'm at in my career journey, I thought it would be a great time to share. Thanks again to Brett Golliff and Mr. Bailey for including me in the conversation. Check out the article below or listen to read it with the introduction directly at Concept Kicks.

Courage is getting started and continuing forward. It’s inevitable that each project carries specific challenges that can lead to moments of self doubt and present opportunities to give up.

When briefed a project, I almost immediately have a vision of what the final “thing” should look like, but all that’s in front of me is a blank page. The empty space is terrifying, and most often, the first visualizations do not align with the image I’ve rendered in my imagination. It’s frustrating as it’s right there in my mind, but I’m unable to communicate it to myself. There is no formula to get me there, or guarantee I’ll find a path I’m passionate about. I can only rely on the foundation I’ve built over years and invest hours, days, or even weeks in following the process and “doing the work.”

At a micro level, this same fear can be applied to each phase of a project or exercise within a phase. Applying details, choosing color and material, or creating communication assets are all unknowns that have to be faced head on. Leaving works undefined and ultimately unfinished has been my crutch to keep them to myself, safe from criticism.

Sharing work can be even more terrifying than beginning a project. What if people don’t like it? Even worse, what if the people that matter to me most don’t like it? A product or idea that lives in the world can be critiqued. It’s either “good” or “bad.” Only you know the compromises made with manufacturing, or the compromises made with clients. You can’t say, “but the intent was better.” All you have is what’s there, sitting on the table. It’s a vulnerable feeling to leave an object on its own unable to stand up for its worth.

For me, these fears are the driving force. I obsess over details so the “thing” that lives is a “thing” I believe in. I want to people to love what I’ve contributed to the culture, and I believe it’s my responsibility to make it happen.