You Got To Ship


The importance of mental structures shines when you aren’t at your best.

Good mental structure helps mitigate risk when life throws curves. Since, as a creative, you have to thrive on that ambiguity, you’ll have to trust that structure more than the average person.


When you are building some structure in your life, it is ugly. It’s slow, never smooth, and filled with failure.  In the end, however, you’ll have another tool in your kit that will help you get work out the door.

You still have to ship, because, as a professional, you can’t relate to waiting until inspiration strikes.


Trust the Tension


Steel sharpens steel, especially when “steel” braces itself and doesn’t react.

Learning how to stay in the tension and fully embrace the learning potential within it is powerful.

Trust the mess and watch yourself get stronger from it.

Shut Down

My go-to move was shutting down.

Anytime I felt “wronged,” I knew I had one tool in the toolkit. I could take away my answer, and those around me would suffer.

I saw it as a form of intellectual drowning.

Instead of leading, I decided to be:

  • Selfish
  • Shameful
  • And just plain sucky

It didn’t hit me at the time, but that is a form of protecting my ego and proving myself. “You are going to see you needed me!”

What a form of arrogance.

The scary thing is, it still can, during a reactive moment, happen. It protected my ego from harm, and when I’m not vigilant, it will again.

If you find yourself doing this, one thing that has helped me fight the need to “prove” myself is pumping myself up through helping someone else achieve something. When you can focus on anything but yourself, you’ll find that the need to “prove” goes quickly.

It can come back again just as fast though, so stay vigilant by helping people often.

Healthy byproduct: people love people who help.

Wait For A Second

Sometimes a breath is all you need.

Take a moment.

Breathe. Deep, not shallow.

Take advantage of this: when someone wants to listen, they will give you a second to respond.

If they don’t, then they weren’t interested in hearing you anyway.

Negotiate – There Is Usually More There

Most of the time, we are all just making it up

You’d be amazed what you see when you pull back the curtain.

Most of us don’t know what we are talking about, at all. Perhaps we look confident, but underneath a surefooted tone, there aren’t many facts backing our opinion up.

What is interesting is, most of us know that when we think about ourselves. What we don’t imagine, though, is that other people go through the same thing.

When people swear the cost of something or the benefit, take a moment to ask a follow-up question, instead of reacting.

A well placed “why” can turn what seemed to be two options into twenty in short order.

Frame It So You Can Follow Up

The next question is often essential, make sure you can ask it

The next question is usually “so why…”

Follow up questions lay the foundation for accurate analysis, which is the gateway for insight.

Sometimes it is tempting to skip out on the follow-up, and just go with the flow.

Most times, you’ll get a rebuttal about time if you focus on going deep.

And guess what, they are right.

If you don’t have enough time, then you haven’t:

  • Aligned with your team on a scope
  • Frame the conversation correctly.

Those are skills. No matter where you are in your career, you usually can become better at either one.

Before you get to the follow-up, make sure you’ve accounted for the structure of the conversation so you can be proactive.

Either that or get comfortable chasing your tail.

Self-Doubt Is Here To Stay

You can’t drop self-doubt

That is a part of you, no different from your physical features and your experiences.

Don’t ignore it or try to cover it up using some “technique.” Your doubt isn’t going anywhere, so don’t waste your time.

That is like trying to suffocate yourself by holding your breath.

Any time you get close, you’ll just open your mouth.  Just like any time you try to ignore your self-doubt, it will reappear in front of you, like a scary child from a horror movie.

Instead, acknowledge that your doubt is there and get to work anyway.

The space between idea and output is execution, and it is a path full of doubt. Part of the art of being a professional is learning how to cross that road.

Time to start walking.