Your work might always seem inferior to others, but that’s 100% okay. Here’s why…
There’s a gap between work we admire and work of our own.
I grasped this concept a while back, while spending some time with one of my good friends, an accomplished graphic artist.
He spends his days and nights on his computer, drawing away.
Everywhere he goes, he sketches on coffee cups and napkins.
And what he does with all of these drawings is remarkable to me.
He fills them in with color, uses effects and graphics, plays around with lighting and shading.
And in a mere 24 hours, a new piece is complete.
And it still baffles me, even years later, how his work is capable of knocking the wind out of me every time he shows me a project.
“This one is for my upcoming pop-up,” he told me recently.
“It’s decent, I think, but I have to redo it, it’s not quite what I needed to do.”
I was a little caught off guard by this, since in all the years of knowing him, I’d never quite seen him this worried.
He’d always been hard on himself, always said he could do better, but there was something different about how he said it this time.
After asking him about his nervousness, he paused for a second.
Without a word, he sat at the desk next to us, pulled up three separate images and waited for my reactions.
All the art was marvelous.
It was also digital art, but done in a variety of styles.
One was more in line with sepia tones, the other was a take on abstract art, and one was a pop of neon colors done reminiscent of the 80’s.
And you know what?
I liked them all.
And I said so.
At this he nodded and looked down at his own art piece, still held in his hands.
He held each top corner of his rendition of a gothic castle floating up in the sky, and observed.
His eyes darted between the silhouettes of the trees, the softness of the clouds, and the stark castle.
And then he looked up at me.
“It’s not great by comparison, is it?”
This taught me two things:
It’s true what they say―we really are our own worst critics.
And furthermore, the work that we admire will almost always be incomparable to our own.
For instance, his art piece was gothic, it was dark, it was meant to convey a feeling more than an overflow of detail.
But each one of the images he pulled up on the computer were filled with detail, and brighter in color.
Although each piece was different from the others, they were all going for the same objective: to convey a scene, not just an emotion.
They weren’t meant to make you think too deeply.
There wasn’t an element of fiction, such as a castle in the sky.
There was only the then and now, each image a captured moment.
To compare his art to those images was a disservice to all of it, since the styles and missions were polar opposites.
It didn’t make his image any less good, it made it different.
It’s easy, in business, to compare your product to those who have gorgeous products.
Products that have nothing to do with your brand, or target audience.
It’s easy to look down at your own work and ask “It’s not great by comparison, is it?”
But that’s the wrong question to be asking.
Instead, it’s critical to ask yourself how you can continuously improve.
What else can you do to elevate what you’ve created.
Moving forward, if there was anything you’d change, how would you go about it?
Don’t compare it to someone else’s product, compare it to your own previous work.
Does it bring something new to the table?
Will my target audience notice the differences and praise my sense of ingenuity?
Because―and this is very important―someone is out there pulling your work up on a computer and saying their work doesn’t compare.
Note: If you enjoyed reading this post, it’d be amazing if you could share this so that others can find it as well.
About Daniel Doan
Daniel Doan is a digital marketing expert and growth marketing consultant who has helped dozens of companies grow over the past half decade with inbound funnels, social media marketing, and copywriting. You can learn more about him and his work here. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.