Posts tagged designer
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.

 

The one thing preventing you from the life you're meant to live

Now comes the hard part: the day-by-day moments where you have to live out those promises and resolutions you made just a few weeks ago, lest you face another year of reckoning and wrecking your best laid plans. There’s a reasonable chance that all of your well-intended visioncasting and early action is starting to wane (after all, it’s almost February). If it hasn’t yet, hold on. It will.

And know that you’re not alone.

While we all need this important if not wholly artificial January reset, we need something even greater to stop us from hitting the proverbial snooze button on pursuing our joy; that thing and sense of purpose we know, deep down, we were meant to pursue and do.

In effort to keep myself on track, I continually return to Steven Pressfield as he knows a thing or two about this conundrum, and his truth-searing words are like a bucket of ice water thrown in one’s face. If you’re an artist, writer, maker, entrepreneur or creative of any type, you need his wise words bouncing around your head on days of setbacks as well as the ones filled with promise. In his book The War of Art, he talks about that thing, that force, that undeniable enemy that lines up on the opposite side of the field preparing to slay you again and again. As a prelude to his deep dive on falling short and understanding why that is, he sends us a wake-up call with this passage below.

If you need motivation that you cannot conjure up on your own, read it.

If you can visualize your end reward knowing you just need to persevere, read it.

Or if you’re scared to death of not realizing what you were meant to become, then definitely read it.  

Neither Times Square nor your town square catalogs your hope-filled confetti. Your party hat and noisemaker have long been recycled. The clock continues to tick whether you’re counting it down or not. And you still have choices to make about pushing through or getting up off the mat.  

 

THE UNLIVED LIFE

Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two lies Resistance.

Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever quit a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark on a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment? Late at night have you envisioned the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who doesn’t start a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.

Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be. If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius. Genius is a Latin word. The Romans used it to denote an inner spirit, holy and inviolable, which watches over us, guiding us to our calling. A writer writes with his genius; an artist paints with hers; everyone who creates operates from this sacramental center. It’s our soul’s seat, the vessel that holds our being-in-potential, our star’s beacon and Polaris.

Every sun casts a shadow, and genius’s shadow is Resistance. As powerful as is our soul’s call to realization, so potent are the forces of Resistance arrayed against it. Resistance is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, harder to kick than crack cocaine. We’re not alone if we’ve been mowed down by Resistance. Millions of good men and women have bitten the dust before us. And here’s the biggest bitch: we don’t even know what hit us. I never did. From age twenty-four to thirty-two, Resistance kicked my ass from East Coast to West and back again thirteen times and I never even knew it existed. I looked everywhere for the enemy and failed to see it right in front of my face.

Have you heard this story: Woman learns she has cancer, six months to live. Within days she quits her job, resumes the dream of writing Tex-Mex songs she gave up to raise a family (or starts studying classical Greek, or moves to the inner city and devotes herself to tending babies with AIDS). Woman’s friends think she’s crazy; she herself has never been happier. There’s a postscript. Woman’s cancer goes into remission.

Is that what it takes? Do we have to stare Death in the face to make us stand up and confront Resistance? Does Resistance have to cripple and disfigure our lives before we wake up to its existence?  How many of us have become drunks and drug addicts, developed tumors and neuroses, succumbed to painkillers, gossip and compulsive cell-phone use, simply because we don’t do that thing that our hearts, our inner genius, is calling us to? Resistance defeats us. If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic every dazed and benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step toward pursuing his or her dreams, every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse, along with the junk food, cosmetic surgery, infotainment business, not to mention the pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and the medical profession from top to bottom. Domestic abuse would become extinct, as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage, and dandruff.

Look in your own heart. Unless I’m crazy, a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I’m crazy, you’re no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn’t real. Resistance will bury you.

You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it an overstatement but I will say it anyway: It was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.

Steven Pressfield, excerpt from The War of Art