There is no “I” in Great. – By @SergeantPluck

By Tom Flynn

There is no “I” in Great.

Patch and I had a rough week recently.

We were doing all the work, but we weren’t getting the results we wanted.  

Our wheels were spinning.

We’d created a perfectionist pitfall for ourselves, and we just kept falling back into it every time we hauled ourselves out.

It was a vicious cycle of falling in and out of love with ideas.

We’d be so excited about something.

And then we’d talk ourselves out of it.

‘It’s not strategic enough.’

‘We’ve seen something like it before.’

‘It’s not right for the brand.’

‘It doesn’t say what we want it to say.’

And on and on ad-infinitum.

It was terrifying.

I was scared we wouldn’t be able to do it again.

It wasn’t our method that was wrong, it was our mindset.

See, Patch and I are all about the work.

Honestly, all we want to do is make great work.

But we, or at least I, have this irrational belief that we have to be great to do great work.

Great work only comes from great people, right?

There must be some inherent quality that exists in makers of great work that lets them make beautiful things.

It’s a silly belief.

And quite arrogant really.

I do great work, and that makes me special.

I’m better than other people because I can do something they can’t.

That’s not true in the slightest.

Someone is no worse a human being than I, nor I any better than them because of my creative output.

That is a ludicrous thing to think.

But there’s still a little piece of me that believes it.

And I know that a lot people reading this will believe it too, even if they won’t openly admit it.

The problem is that when you believe that, you carry the weight of your supposed exceptionalism with you.

‘I have to be great, if this work isn’t great, I won’t be great, what will I be if I’m not great?’

How can you produce anything worthwhile when you’re trying to deal with that pressure?

The task of selling bleach is now imbued with the importance of your grand existential project.

Fuck that my friend, I promise you that one’s not gonna fire.  

Luckily, we broke the cycle.

Retrospectively it was quite simple;

We just focused on the work.

It wasn’t about us or how great we want to be.

It’s about this work in front of us right now.

‘How do we make this campaign great?’

We don’t need to be great.

This piece of work needs to be great.

Everything else is unimportant.

Things worked quite well after that.

We haven’t got it perfect yet, but we’re getting better.

Maybe that is the quality that lets great people produce great work, they just care about the work, not how it’ll reflect on them.

It’s pretty straight forward it seems, if you want to be all about the work, don’t make it all about you.


Fat Tom.

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