The fortunes of experience

Embracing the weight of success 


Blank. I’ve got nothing. I’m fooling myself. Surely I can short-cut this. I’ve made the time and now have nothing. I can’t believe this is going to happen the same way it…

Stop.

Today will be different. Today is different. I continue to type. It doesn’t matter what the words are. It matters that I’m typing words down.

I admit to being a terrible writer. It’s just not who I am. Put me in front of a room of strangers and I’m great. I can talk all night. I can share stories with the best of them. Ask me to drive product strategy in a room full of stakeholders and executives, groovy. Write something for those I’m closest with, strangers, compadres, and I can’t even start. I fumble with my words, my mind, my body. This sounds like a good reason not to write, but it’s really an excuse.

So here are some words to my designer friends. They’re raw, grammatically poor, and this is a draft at best. Whether we’ve met or not. Whether you’re young or old. These words are for me, to you.

The single biggest fear during my design career, shit my entire life, is not failure. It’s success. It’s always been success. Success is scary. There are expectations with success. You have to live up to success, out do your previous successes, else you’re worse than you were before. The more success I’ve had, the more anxiety I’ve developed. I’ve hidden most of my success from my peers, community, friends, and family for fear I might become something I don’t want to be. It’s taken a while, but time has given me something I could not have had when I was younger. Confidence that becoming something I don’t want to be is up to me to decide. I will not hide anymore.

I’ve been fortunate, extremely fortunate and successful. During my career, I’ve have had mentors, teachers, friends, peers, and employers who have shared the gifts of knowledge, insight, patience, and trust. They’ve encouraged me to become more than I could have possibly imagined, to live a life I could not — should not have expected. These gifts have played a major role in my success. The thing with these gifts though, is they are not mine. I don’t own them and I’ve been borrowing them for far too long. For the better part of my career, I’ve not honored the people in my life by sharing these gifts with an audience that deserves them; you.

Luckily, the people in my life have also taught me I deserve all I have. It’s a daily battle to believe this, but it’s something I know. These gifts are powerful and I’ve been afraid for far too long of sharing these gifts out of fear they may make me powerful. Since I’m not going to hide anymore, sharing these gifts now is about allowing my own light to shine, embracing the discomfort of success, so that I may allow others to do the same. We have moments, all of us, where we are liberated from our fears, and in doing so, help liberate others. My oath to you is to continue from this day on, to become powerful in hopes it may provide us both power every day. We deserve it.