Posts tagged design
Impostor syndrome vs. "fake it 'til you make it"
Dylan Menges of Menges Design is someone who’s not faking it

Dylan Menges of Menges Design is someone who’s not faking it

We all feel like frauds from time to time. We strive for a level of excellence in our craft or profession. Occasionally we will reach the mountaintop. More often than not the best outcomes – which is not to be confused with our valiant efforts – will elude us.

Am I really any good at my craft?”

If my clients or colleagues only knew...”

I’m not measuring up to her work or his work; I don’t know why I keep at this.

I feel like a fraud, a total fake.”

These are the lies we tell ourselves. This is the impostor syndrome in its full glory. But consider the lies you’re telling others if you actually embrace the fake it ‘til you make it approach.

Simple question: do you want to be on the receiving end of some who is faking it?

Now more than ever we crave leaders and makers who can be vulnerable, show a level of transparency, and own the idea that they — and their work — will always be a work in progress. The humanizing aspect of that kind of vulnerability is no longer a weakness, it’s a strength. That doesn’t imply it’s not good, somehow unworthy, or that it’s not the right idea at the right time. It’s more about the continuous improvement of our work and our growth as a leader or maker.

CONFRONT THE LIES // EMBRACE YOUR TRUTH

If you’re faking it — or felt compelled to fake it — you have to ask yourself: why am I faking it? Why put more effort into appearing great (e.g., think —> over-hyped web content, making big promises, taking credit for work that isn’t fully yours) instead of focusing on actually becoming great at what you do?

I have a trusted friend who runs a consulting business, and for the better part of 20 years he’s asked tough questions of himself. Am I adding value? Is this where I need to focus my efforts? Who do I really want to impact? He’s no impostor in his field, but he thoughtfully questions how he’s making a difference. If he finds that he needs to pivot, he pivots. That takes serious introspection and a willingness to disrupt the business model. He builds upon a strong base of knowledge and experience and then adds new dimensions to it through intensive learning. For him, to keep doing something that didn’t provide value or meaning for his clients would just be another form of faking it.

My JOY VENTURE colleague Jeremy Slagle is one of the more talented designers I know, and he’ll be the first to tell you he doesn’t have a college degree from a prestigious design school. Instead, he went straight to work and refined a childhood passion into a career. He logged his 10,000 hours early in his career — and it shows. He’s not faking it.

And neither is Dylan Menges. That image of him above is part of a brief & vulnerable video clip on his Instagram account where this highly accomplished designer confronts the lies and embraces the truth through his unique illustration and lettering style. We can benefit from more of this kind of truth telling — to ourselves and with others.

HUSTLE — AND THE “FAKE IT or MAKE IT” CONVERSATION

Most people would agree that in business or art, the whole idea of a fake, a phony or a fraud is strong repellent. So how is it this fake it ‘til you make it saying becomes a mantra for the modern-day hustler and their hustle? Do they not see how disingenuous is while also dismissing those who make the commitment to quietly put their heads down, lean in and learn, figure things out, and then strategically move forward? 

Admittedly, I have a like-hate relationship with the concept of hustle. I know some people who hustle hard and in a genuine way. They are makers and doers who are exceptionally strong at their craft, fighting uphill battles daily to do what they love and spread their joy. And I cheer them on.

But too often the image that comes to mind is that of the hustler who places emphasis on the win and to be seen as a winner in all the right places. This is the impostor syndrome rearing its head again, this time with massive doses of overcompensation. Even if the hustler scores a win, there’s this pesky thing called ‘the work’ that still has to happen. Where is the joy in such pretense? How can their be joy in receiving (accolades) if there was no giving (doing the work)? Deception is the opposite of spreading joy. 

 

THERE’S NO FAKING IT TODAY

Our radars are too keen and well-tuned to sniff out what isn’t authentic.

So keep it real.

Stay humble.

And ignore that voice in your head that says you’re not good enough.

That, friend, is how you will make it.

 

In praise of white space & blank slates
blank-blank-space-close-up-942872.jpg

The designer refers to it as white space.

The architect: open space.

The artist: a clean slate.

The writer: a blank page.

Others may call it wasted or dead space.

And when the critics are looking over your shoulder as you contemplate your space, they might be the ones calling it out as under-designed, writers block, inefficient, or unfinished.

 

Space: an invitation with deep-seated fear

Many of us feel compelled to fill our space. We’ve bought into the idea that this it is what’s required of us. We’ve been led to believe that to behold the blank, dead, empty, open or white space somehow signals that we’re lazy or unproductive. Too often the result is that we act out of fear.

Instead we should be embracing what is not yet on the invisible sketch canvas of what’s to come. That is the invitation to discovering new-found joy.

Recently we embraced this invitation and went on a brief hiatus from Joy Venture (it’s our second such break since starting JV). In this downtime when we weren’t concerned with pushing out the next podcast, we had space to think about and do – other things. Things that were necessary, things that stretched us, and things that demanded out attention. But just as important, no thing at all. The idea of setting up margin in your life – not feeling compelled to fill your space, your calendar, your social feed, etc. – and leaving room to breathe, think about and pursue different ideas is important. These are themes worth touching on as we move forward.

 

Risks and rewards of exploring the space

Specifically we used our blank and empty space since November to scrutinize Joy Venture. There was real risk in confronting the fact that this thing we’ve poured ourselves into might have run its course – and we needed to wrestle with that reality.

  • Should we continue?

  • If so, where do we go next?

  • How might we do new and different things?

  • How do we stay true to Joy Venture’s purpose while also pursuing new voices and ideas?

 We also had to push back against conventional wisdom, which suggested we were foolish to “go dark” without new content for months. What about our followers? What about momentum? What about the timely posts you need to stay relevant? What about securing a sponsor to help us grow, grow, grow? 

To us, and specifically for the podcast, relevance has more to do with real interactions than it does regular rhythms to catch a surfing audience. We cannot do this for the likes and shares. We’re unable to run on the infinite treadmill of production and find joy in that kind of effort. We know that for most things in life less is more. We tend to cherish what’s finite versus what is in abundance all around us. We believe the work must resonate at a deeper level for people, ourselves included.

While we do look at our analytics, we hold dear the responses we get from people who take time to send us a thoughtful note. Those individual pieces of feedback obliterate how we think about the algorithms of visibility, should we ever feel tempted to allow data to dictate our joy.

 

Questions to contemplate

But this isn’t about us. This invitation also is for you, friend and follower. So we ask you, the individual who is at least moderately intrigued with this idea of discovering joy –

  • Have you embraced the white, blank, empty, open and dead space in your life? Why not?

  • Have you been feverishly filling your spaces out of obligation? Why?

  • Will you accept the invitation that space affords and create margin in the months ahead to see what you can begin to draft on the invisible sketch canvas?

  • What do you want to create that you’ve been afraid to pursue? What’s holding you back from taking the initial steps?

 

The space and time away from Joy Venture these past months confirmed its value for us, especially as others continue to discover what we’re up to and choose to listen and lean in. It has renewed us and refreshed some of our thinking about where we go from here.

All this to say, our hiatus has been rewarding and we’re ready to return to the podcast this spring with new episodes of insight and extraordinary individuals. We hope it will be the inspiration and encouragement you need to step off the treadmill of production to pursue things that matter.

Thank you for your ongoing encouragement of us as we pursue this endeavor in hopes of helping others discover, develop and spread their joy.