Keep your creative ego in check
I’ve definitely got a creative ego! And I get immense satisfaction from being praised, gaining brownie points, affirmation of my creative brilliance, and widely expressed congratulations of my successes. All this positivity influences my work, creates confidence and puts a bounce in my step.
At face value there’s not a lot wrong with that. However, there’s a fine line between giving your creative ego an occasional boost, versus working and living with the sole purpose of feeding and satisfying it.
Professional creatives understandably have egos, and they’re renowned for being egotistic ****ers at the best of times. And I don’t believe that perception will change any time soon. Obviously I’m not describing myself as this. I would never let my ego get in the way of my professionalism! Anyway…moving on.
Yes, working in the creative industry brings with it some very big egos. And while a positive ego can help influence decision-making, enhance experiences and encourage a client to agree, when it becomes over-inflated it can have a significant and detrimental impact on the individual, and the business.
Great creative work will always attract attention. And this attention is also given to the person who is the creator. Making them have a sense of achievement, recognition, and appreciation from others – it’s a great feeling.
But what happens when an ego believes it has a right to this praise and appreciation, regardless of the quality of work?
Egos can be very needy and they get in the way. There presence can distract us, send us down the wrong paths, create over-confidence – but worse of all make us an arrogant, cocky, and egotistic little ****ers. And like I said, no one wants to be one of those!
We need a balance between our desire to create, the creative process, and the need for a positive response to our work. The order of the day is; the work, the viewer, and lastly, you.
When we talk about someone having an ego, we automatically think it’s an overly inflated ego! Rarely do we think of an ego being deflated. And stereotypically, egos are predominantly associated with masculinity. Again, it is rare to hear anyone say “she has a bit of an ego” – although women are just as susceptible. It’s just that the feminine version of an ego is more to do with self esteem and self worth. But at the core, it’s all the same – feeling good about ourselves and our work.
Don’t take it personally, but…
If you’re defined by your work, what happens if some people don’t like what you’ve created? Does that make your work rubbish? No, obviously not. But it will dent your ego. And what will your attitude be like if you took on something new and you fail at it? Will your ego let you learn from the failure, or will it bring you down in some negative way? Maybe your ego is so great that you rarely ask for help from others. But surely through collaborating, allowing yourself to be influenced, and learning new approaches to problems is far better than thinking you know it all! When you really don’t.
What this all boils down to is, it’s not about you, it’s about the work. If you can avoid taking things personally, then you’ll be better placed to control your ego, accept failure, or celebrate success with the other people that have helped you along the way.
I am a lot of things, but I’m not that
Throughout my career I’ve always believed that I can control my over-exuberant creative ego when it appears. I would accept and manage failure and success in similar ways – almost like I had already decided which way things would go, set my internal expectations and ensure my ego stayed aligned. I wouldn’t cry if someone thought my work was shit, and I wouldn’t particularly celebrate if it was considered brilliant.
In the past I’ve allowed my ego to give me a pat on the back, or a kick up the arse when necessary. It has quietly encouraged me, or it has convinced me I’m a failure! It’s only after considerable practice and time, success and failure, that I today appreciate my ego for what it is, how it operates, and when it’s present. Best of all, I’m the one who decides to keep it on the leash, give it freedom, or simply ignore it.
Today, I believe I have a healthy ego, and it would be unlikely anyone could accuse me of being an egotistic ****er!
How about you?