By Trent Rentsch
Funny, the tricks our minds play on us. I mean, I’ve been feeling pretty good about myself... dropped a few pounds, the usual wardrobe suspects are getting loose; older, smaller-sized favorites are suddenly back in rotation. Make no mistake, I still have plenty of tonnage to deal with, but what I’ve seen in the mirror lately is, well, less than what I once saw. On the road to Wellsville, right? As it turns out, not as far down the road as I imagined.
The Missus got the news that she was among a group being honored at a dinner. A dinner and ball, in fact. A BLACK TIE dinner and ball, if all the facts were disclosed. I know this will come as a shock, but my closet isn’t filled with tuxedos. So... a renting we would go.
I’d forgotten how intimidating being fitted for a tux can be. They measure, everything. EVERYTHING. The clerk was discreet, but thorough. So thorough that I was surprised when he asked, “What size pants do you wear?” While I’m still not proud of the size, I did feel somewhat good about the numbers I provided... until I saw the look on the clerk’s face. “Really?” he said. I give him extra points for not smirking. He simply selected a pair of slacks in the size I suggested and asked me to “give them a try.” Try them I did, and oddly enough, they were too small... much smaller than the relaxed-fit jeans that my body had been stretching out for some months. So, despite the shrinkage my mind was telling me appeared in the mirror, the fact was that I’m still pretty much where I was 7 pounds ago...
The phrase, “Perception is Reality” is often tossed about in advertising. It’s a phrase that’s been given so much weight that we’ve been lead to believe that it is always the case. Truth is, our perceptions often distort reality to an absurd level. I knew I’d dropped a couple of pounds, so I “saw” a “thinner me” in the mirror. It took a moment of clarity, of objectivity, to remind me that I was just one all-you-can eat buffet away from being back where I started from. Yes, the truth might hurt, but that’s where real growth (or weight loss) begins.
Speaking of growth, how goes your development as a Creative? What have you learned lately? What weaker points of your work are you working on to improve? Are your skills stronger than they were yesterday? Or, are you simply wondering why the hell I’d bother you with these questions?
Here’s a bit of Reality that’s based on truth, not perception... no matter how talented you are, no matter how much you learn, no matter how many years you Create, there’s ALWAYS room for improvement! That’s right, there’s no finish line, even for those “on top of their game.” It’s simply one long, hard road of constant development and growth. Depressing? Hell NO! The journey is where all the fun is!
All the truly great Creatives know this. On a recent visit to the National Gallery of Art, I was struck with the diversity of style Picasso exhibited in his work over the years. He was never content with “the one right way” to Create, and while he continues to have his critics, it cannot be denied that he never stopped growing and developing his Creative. You may be thinking, “Well, he was an artist.” Exactly!
Why not consider your Creative an art form? True, it might not end up in a museum, it may only have the most limited of audiences, and the subject matter could be considered “just advertising,” but if you take it seriously, doesn’t it deserve your best? And shouldn’t you make sure that your best is better every day?
Take a good, hard listen to what you are Creating. Don’t strain to hear what you want to be there, be objective. Where is there room for growth and development? It’s a good place to start the journey. Then, take a second run at those places you feel you’re “doing great.” Ask for frank, honest opinions of others. There may be flaws that you’re too close to see.
This is where the fun starts. Practice, learn, grow, make adjustments... then, repeat. There’s so much you’ll discover, and I don’t mean simply new and exciting EQ settings. You’ll find new levels of confidence, skill and satisfaction, no matter where you are in your career, and an ever-growing desire to improve.
Good enough might be comfortable as an old pair of jeans, but it makes it damned hard to squeeze into something better.