December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

As I reflect on the past year, one thing that seems to have been a recurring theme is "busy-ness". In our business, busy-ness is usually equated as good. People always ask, "You keeping busy?" with the expected answer being "yes". If not, that's supposed to be considered a bad thing. I think we need to change that.

Being too busy results in stress, tension, exhaustion, overwork, less productivity, and more importantly in our world, less creativity. Once you get into this vicious cycle, it's real hard to get out of it. The Chinese character for “busy” is a chilling example. As many Chinese characters do, it consists of two dinstinct elements. The symbol on the left represents "heart" while the one on the right represents "death". Can this be any more clear? "Who wants a dead heart"?

I think for 2008, we should stop being so busy. In doing so, I believe - ironically - that we will be able to get more done. And by more, I don't only mean work. More work, yes, but also more of what inspires us outside of work. Hanging out with friends, going for long walks in the woods, playing music, or even just chilling on the couch on Sunday watching football - whatever makes you happy. And I guess that's the key... being happy. Here's to that.

On another note, here are some words of encouragement and motivation as we enter into an exciting New Year. The first is a brief excerpt from the essay The Ten Things I've Learned by Milton Glacer:

Early in my career I wanted to be professional, that was my complete aspiration in my early life because professionals seemed to know everything - not to mention they got paid for it. Later I discovered after working for a while that professionalism itself was a limitation. After all, what professionalism means in most cases is diminishing risks. So if you want to get your car fixed you go to a mechanic who knows how to deal with transmission problems in the same way each time. I suppose if you needed brain surgery you wouldn’t want the doctor to fool around and invent a new way of connecting your nerve endings. Please do it in the way that has worked in the past.

Unfortunately in our field, in the so-called creative – I hate that word because it is misused so often. I also hate the fact that it is used as a noun. Can you imagine calling someone a creative? Anyhow, when you are doing something in a recurring way to diminish risk or doing it in the same way as you have done it before, it is clear why professionalism is not enough. After all, what is required in our field, more than anything else, is th
e continuous transgression. Professionalism does not allow for that because transgression has to encompass the possibility of failure and if you are professional your instinct is not to fail, it is to repeat success. So professionalism as a lifetime aspiration is a limited goal.
- Milton Glaser

Here's a couple other gems to help kick off 2008:
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in making new landscapes but in having new eyes."
- Marcel Proust

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

-Mark Twain

When someone tells you your butt is on fire, you should take them at their word.
- Homer Simpson