In the modern era of lightning-fast disruption and technical innovation, the advertising industry cannot afford the time or, more importantly, the risk of failure needed for experimentation. Ironically, this may be exactly what we need to accommodate – not only for our own survival, but for the long-term success of our clients.
In a goal-obsessed society it may well be that real success is less about chasing profit and more about ‘following our passion.’ But what does that even mean? After all, ‘passion’ is not a destination, it’s a journey of experimentation, risk and failure.
This is true in life and in business. We can only uncover what our organisations are really capable of by showing a bit of ‘cojones’ and allowing time for tinkering around. In the end, that’s how creativity works, right? So how can an industry that prides itself on offering creativity-on-demand use this to their advantage?
We can start by encouraging personal projects – done for passion, not necessarily profit – to take on a life of their own. A creative agency culture that values and invests in the pursuit of personal projects can shift from a consultancy/single revenue stream model to a multi-faceted model by learning and developing ventures that could become independent revenue generators.
For one thing, this can relieve some of the pressure created by ever-tightening budgets and unstable economies – while simultaneously offering an opportunity for individual members to grow creatively through experimentation. On the other hand, this approach can also inspire and even generate products that our clients don’t even know they need yet. Which may just keep us (and them) a step ahead.
Now, if you’re starting to feel inspired by your own creative awakening, and you want your passion projects to have a better chance of becoming an investment in yourself and your business, here are a few things to consider:
Where there is a dream, there is resistance.
Resistance is the universal force that acts against human creativity and has one sole mission: to keep things as they are. It takes the form of a doubting voice in the back of your head that inspires fear and prevents creative ideas from ever seeing the light of day. Accept that it’s there and be willing to overcome it.
Don’t think, just do.
Don’t prepare. Begin. Your enemy is not a lack of preparation and it’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace. Your enemy is apathy, a.k.a. laziness, a.k.a. procrastination, a.k.a the ‘too-hard basket’. Good things happen when we start before we are ready. And you’ll never be ready, anyway.
Schedule play time.
It’s important to turn creativity into a habit if we want to find fulfilment. So, schedule creative time into your life. It will not only give your passion project a fighting chance, it will also be good for your emotional wellbeing.
Embrace the unknown.
Follow your curiosity wherever it leads you. Whatever you do, do it because it inspires you, not because you know it will achieve external benefits. Allow yourself to screw up, as it’s often the only way to break through. Explore alternate ideas, ignore the censoring voice in your head, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Have a growth mindset.
Set your ego aside and approach life from a ‘get-better’ mindset, where the focus is on developing your abilities and learning new skills. Stop comparing yourself to others and embrace any opportunity to improve yourself – even if it’s difficult. Think in terms of progress and purpose – not perfection.
With all that in mind, pursue your passion and give yourself permission to play.