This is one of the posts that probably shouldn’t be written – but that’s what I do. If I were half as smart as I pretend to be, I would probably take this moment and walk around the block or destroy the stress ball sitting on my desk. Instead of doing those things, I am going to go through the cathartic process of writing a post on the matter and we’ll see if I hit the publish button by the time I’m finished.
After conferring with my stress ball, I’ve decided that I am going to hit publish because I think a lot of people have probably had similar experiences.
In the course of doing my job, I find myself in the middle of a lot of conversations where I am trying to explain how something needs to get done. In most instances this is an easy process – I describe the objective and the person responsible for actually solving the problem goes on their merry way to start the creative process. Sometimes, the person I am talking to wants me to tell them every single thing that they need to do, step-by-step so that they can get to work. On the surface, this doesn’t really seem like a bad thing … but I’m here to tell you that this is the worst!
If I have to tell you everything, that would suggest that I have already solved the problem and your role in this process is to simply do … what? Execute? In most instances, I would have to solve the problem in order to describe exactly what needs to be done and at that point, that’s the same as me doing it – which means you are irrelevant in the process.
You don’t want to be seen as irrelevant, do you?
Designing a building requires precisely 1.34 billion decisions and I will be the first to admit that I can’t make them all – I don’t need to make them all. I would prefer to collaborate with talented individuals who like to plug themselves into the process and use their unique and specific skill set so that together we can do something amazing. My ego is not so large or fragile that I am unwilling to recognize that there are talented people out there with something to offer and I make it a point to try and listen to those people as much as possible. Which brings me back to the top of my soap box –
If I have to tell you everything …
Occasionally I will work with someone who thinks it is their job to simply show up and do what they’re told. For the record, I really don’t care for that sort of behavior … it smacks of apathy. That lack of interest, enthusiasm, and concern, especially when working in a creative field, is one of the things that makes me want to go home at the end of the day and lie facedown on the couch. While all of this might make me sound like a crank, I think it’s just the opposite. I have a huge threshold of tolerance for people who try their best but ultimately fall short of the mark. In those instances, I think it’s my responsibility to recognize the pattern and adjust my expectations accordingly. But this isn’t about someone’s ability, it’s about their desire, passion, and ownership in the creative process. What I particularly care about here is the effort (which is one of the daily lessons I stress to my now 12-year-old daughter). I want to surround myself and work with people who care enough to do their very best.
I don’t expect perfection but I do expect effort, anything less and you’re just wasting everyone’s time.