Now, I’ve worked with some truly humble people during my time in the industry, so we’re not talking about all creatives. But ask anyone who’s spent some time in the business and they’ll be able to recall at least one incident of someone losing their heads (possibly physically smashing something) because someone dared to disagree with their genius concept or final product. Which is problematic.
Of course, it’s important that you have self-confidence in an industry that will likely knock you down more than a few times. But it’s not necessary to hold onto an inflated ego. In all honesty, I believe that egos could be harming creatives more than giving them a competitive edge in a highly competitive business.
Egos slow you down and make you second-guess yourself
It’s often been said (in a variety of ways) that you’re only as good as the last piece of work you produced. Or, let’s just say it, the last award you received. But if this is the mindset you’re harbouring, it could actually harm the work you’re currently trying to produce. You see, your ego may make it difficult for you to concentrate on creating something new and exciting because you’re so worried about it being as brilliant as the last thing you produced.
Have you ever found yourself attempting to start something new and repeatedly failing? Unable to even conceive an idea to later reject? It may be because you’re so worried it will be a dud. This is because your ego needs you to be on top of your game at all times. Your ego won’t allow you to take risks because the idea of not reaching perfection prevents you from trusting yourself. This makes you second-guess every move you make and slows you down in a fast-paced industry where both speed and quality are essential for success.
Egos need constant fuel
Egos can be inflated and therefore so easily deflated. Think about your ego as one of those pool toys you pump up, the extremely cheap kind. One little prick and it starts to deflate. So not only do you have to pump it up again, you first have to locate the tiny hole and patch it up. If you’re thinking that’s a lot of effort for a cheap pool toy, then you’re entirely correct. And the same can be said about re-inflating your ego.
The worst is when your ego deflates and you can’t locate the hole and don’t have the tools to pump it up again. That’s when you hear stories of creatives hysterically crying in the bathroom or smashing windows (or other things, whatever). Egos are like drugs and the come down can leave you moody, depressed and shaking in the corner.
Lastly, but most importantly, egos make you hell to work with
As much as you may not like it, you need clients in order to, you know, get a paycheque. And clients will come back with changes. They will have opinions on the work you do. They will have last minute “suggestions”. Every creative has a story about a client giving ridiculously vague feedback, like “Make it less but also more” or “Can you make the black, blacker?” These things happen and cause creatives with egos to throw tantrums. And that’s not fun to be around. Especially for the people you work with.
Teamwork and relationships between departments are also important. As much as the “suits” and “creatives” have been known to clash in the past. It’s high time we moved on from that. It’s time we all learned to put our issues aside and work together. And that’s pretty damn hard when you’re dealing with individual egos.
*This article was previously published on Media Update.