Why creatives are like platoon leaders.
If you are a creative, you are in a battle. Everyday. You have a mission and a platoon of 10 soldiers. Your soldiers are your defense. They are out in front getting the enemy out of the way and taking on enemy fire. Let’s say you get up, you go through your morning routine. You feel good on your drive to work. You have your plan for the day. You have been looking forward to digging in on the one project and getting into a groove, that is your “mission” for the day. You know you have a great idea and you are on the cusp of it. Then on your way to work you get a frantic text from your leader, your spouse or a co-worker. It doesn’t matter who really. The frantic text is enemy fire. It takes out 2 of your soldiers. It was not even that big of a deal, but it took you down to 8 soldiers. It is a slight attack on the one creative thing YOU are supposed to be doing today. The one thing that only YOU can do, the thing you have been thinking about since yesterday (or longer). OK you’re still good. No big deal, shake it off keep moving. Then maybe you get an email where someone didn’t like the thing you made yesterday, another couple bullets, ouch, You thought we were closer to an answer. 2 more soldiers down. We’re down to 6 now. Then one of your team mates is sick, so you have to pick up the slack on his or her work, another soldier down. Then you forgot something you were supposed to do yesterday, ugh. 2 more soldiers out. We are down to 4. Defenses are low. Stress is up. What was it that I wanted to do today? Oh yeah, got it, lets do this.
Then a grenade. An email from a leader of some sort saying, “Hey, I have a meeting coming up and I want my presentation to POP! The meeting is tomorrow, can you just make something for me real quick?” Then because you are a people pleaser, you have a reaction in your belly that makes you feel terrible if you disappoint anyone. So, you start to work on this presentation and you knock it out in 2 hours.
By that time it is 11:30 and time to start thinking about lunch and you have totally forgotten about the thing you were really excited to work on in the morning. All your soldiers and all your defense is gone. And for today, the battle has been lost.
As creatives, we all have something inside of us that needs to get out. Something that we just have to make and share. And when we do, we feel like we know why we are here. We feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment. We had something inside of us, then we do the work and the digging to get to it. Then we put it out there. Even if people don’t like it, we know we did what we were supposed to do today. We CREATED.
But like I said earlier, the process of getting something out that is inside of us is a battlefield. Only YOU can do that one thing you have inside of you, but it takes focus and intentionality. Yes, you probably have a job where other people ask you to do things on a regular basis. Your creative work might even be for your job. You might have this one project that you know will have a huge impact on the world or make a huge splash for your client, but all the little things just keep piling up. The little bullets take down your soldiers.
So, what do you do? There is no easy fix. But there are patterns you can start to build into your life to make sure you deliver on the one thing that only you can do today. Then, once you have been able to spend some time on that, you can be free to work on other peoples work and expectations.
One of the habits I have built into my life is that I get up fairly early and do my creative work.
Do YOUR work before anyone else’s expectations can start to sway you and take out your soldiers.
I do the work that takes the most concentration and creativity first thing in the morning. I take my platoon and we sneak through the enemy territory before they are even awake. I get it out, I have won the day before anyone else knows we were in a battle. That means I have chosen what is most important to me for the day and spent time working on it. Then, when other people need things from me later in the day I am happy to serve and figure out what needs to be done.
As creatives, we each have something inside of us that we have to get out. We are made to create and when we don’t or can’t, it causes stress, disappointment, dissatisfaction and a bunch of other negative things. The people around you will be much happier as well when you are not depleted! You have to make time to deliver on what is inside and you have to make it a habit. Do your best creative work first thing in the morning and set your own expectations before anyone else can set them for you.
Now go and create with purpose!
If you think you have what it takes to be on the Ramsey Creative team, we have some open positions on our team. It will be the hardest and best job you’ll ever have, so don’t apply if you can’t handle difficult days. We are on a mission to change the world and changing the world is not easy. But if you are reading this and feel like you might be the right person, take a look at our openings here.