Hello & welcome. My name is Colin and I design, create, write, and think on this little corner of the interwebs.

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Ten Things I Wish I Knew Sooner Rather Than Later

Just stumbled across this and had to capture/share it. This is some sage advice from a very wise woman in the branding and creative field. I feel like I might need to repeat this to myself every day (perhaps multiple times).

  1. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks.
  2. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.
  3. Work very, very hard.
  4. Ask for opportunities.
  5. Finish what you start.
  6. Say “yes and” to almost everything.
  7. Busy is a decision.
  8. Confidence is overrated.
  9. Learn and build from your failures, but…
  10. It is only a failure if you accept defeat.

Debbie Millman (From her talk at The Melbourne Writers Festival 2014)

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Terrible Precedes Greatness

It’s frustrating being bad at things. It’s infuriating. The insecurity inside me of anyone seeing my work in its premature state makes me a little bit antsy, no matter how much I trust the person. However, at some point along the way we’ve all been terrible at everything we do. Every single one of us didn’t know how to not poop our own pants for years. However, in the following years we begin to have our worth, our value, our perception of ourselves shaped by the measurement of the quality of what we produce. Our merit is what we’re told makes us valuable. 

We are told there is a bar, an expectation, and goal that we’re supposed to achieve that makes us acceptable as adequate. Perfection becomes the idol that we strive to please, yet rarely achieve. In school, taking risks isn’t praised but is actually wrong, because our course is set for us and all we’re supposed to follow it through obedience. If we’re not behaving, we’re reprimanded. We subject huge stretches of our formative years to the scrutiny of our academic system that is supposed to make us into the best version of ourselves, however it really just accentuates within us the fear of failure. Not being good enough, is something we believe so strongly about ourselves that we may not even realize there could be an alternative. 

This has been most challenging for me as someone who’s chosen a creative job, and my entire purpose is to create things that have never existed before. The pursuit of a good idea is really difficult and batting 1000 is essentially impossible. If I’m honest, the thing I need to be doing most is pursuing bad ideas, because in those bad ideas, lie some good ones—amongst the good ones, there might even be a great one. But bad ideas are bad, right? We’re expected to keep those to ourselves, for fear of ridicule and laughter from our peers and managers. But what if we have to get those out of the way as we dig for great idea? What are we so afraid of? 

Bad ideas are the key to great ideas. Even when it comes to painting, drawing, graphic design, skateboarding, whatever you want to be great at—you have to be comfortable in sucking terribly before you can be great. You have to be willing to push through the potential embarrassment of being wrong, in order to eventually be right. You have to be terrible before you can be great. 

I’m feeling this the most with drawing right now. My understanding of form is awful, my ability to capture emotion is pathetic, my ability to communicate movement is a struggle at best, but it’s worth it because if I can eventually be comfortable with being terrible, I might eventually get better. If I get better, I might eventually get good—and that,is the goal. I can’t be great now, I have to terrible first. I have to push through, even though it goes against everything I’ve been taught.

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Agile Teams & Meaningful Decision Making

Small agile teams equipped and empowered to make decisions can make a difference in ways that consensus and bureaucracy couldn’t even dream of.

I wrote this on my AquaNotes this morning and since it’s a morsel too long to tweet I had to get the thoughts out of my head about the subject. It’s not profound in and of itself, but the opposite of it is the natural drift of growing and successful organizations.

Most often, small teams are what are able to make things that matter. The ring of collaboration is a short circumference, it’s vibrant, exciting, effective, and additive. Ideas get better in this because the banter is more conversational and less oration-like. Ideas are able to be bounced off one another and plussed rather than a “you listen while this person talks, then this person, then this person” style.

I’ve found a lot of success in situations where it’s a small group of us bantering about copywriting, conceptual art, storylines, and the like. However, when I’m in cast of too many, consensus becomes the goal (or inevitable outcome), and it becomes increasingly difficult to walk out making a ground-breaking idea.

I don’t have research for this, other than my experiential evidence, but so far, for me, it rings true. The thought of “Running something up the ladder” can seem normal in a corporate world where you’re not entrusted or self-trusting enough to make a decision, but that’s not how innovation occurs.

Often, new ideas are hated by at least half of a group when they first come out, because risk and new are scary. But those who believe in ground-breaking, normal-busting, exciting new endeavors are those that take organizations from good to great. I want to be a part of that kind of pioneering. Anyone can be a maintainer of the status quo, but it takes effort, handwork, wit, and an agile group of like-minded people to make something truly remarkable.

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Strava

Strava has changed my life. It has given me a chance to not let my circumstances determine who I am. I am not a competitive person, so the idea of running races, training against or with others, and competitive sports are not motivating factors for me. I don’t like the idea of someone else yelling at me to be better, because believe me I already know I am probably not doing good enough.

However, Strava has created a scenario where I could be competitive with myself—not with my current self, with my previous self. I could literally work incrementally harder to simply be a little bit better than I was yesterday, and aim to be a little bit better tomorrow. This kind of constant forward movement gives me permission to strive for my best, to find the motivation with me, to build the positive self-motivated habit within myself that’s maintainable and sustainable. It helps me become the best version of me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have loved the people I’ve gotten to meet on Strava who share the same goal and desire to just be a little bit better than yesterday. It’s a great place where I’ve found a passive online community of like-minded niche people.

I love situations where I get to become better, to strive to be the best version of me that is closest to what God sees me as. With the help of Strava, Fitbit, and LoseIt! I have lost over 50 lbs, and been more active than I’ve been since high school (where I was basically forced to be uber-active thanks to high school basketball).

It’s amazing what the internet can do, and I know it’s only the beginning the kind of connections that can be experienced now that we’re living in the future.

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Private Life Outloud

I’m a rather private person. I don’t often share openly about what I’m personally struggling with outside of a very small circle. I’m not one to broadcast what I’m worried about, stresses, my faith, needs, desires, or even what I’m passionate about (which is probably more odd than I realize). I often find myself writing at the end of each day in Day One, honestly just decompressing my busy days. It’s a place to take a step back from the day full of input from meetings, conversations, advice, and feedback loops and trying to get out of the jumbled mess into an understandable order I can actually comprehend.

I struggle often to find words in the moment, it often leaves me initially shying away from face-to-face conversations because I’m afraid of looking like an idiot in front of someone who has better things to do with their time than to listen to me babble about something until their boredom sets in with a fierceness like that of the panic of a snowy day in Atlanta. I don’t know what that facet of me is, but I can definitely tell it’s limited me in a lot of areas. It not only makes me terrible at meeting new people, I struggle to find helpful words in creative meetings (a huge part of my job that I always feel like I’m ever-failing at), I even have a hard time just talking with people I feel safe with. It makes me terrible at marketing, promoting, or talking about myself.

I long to be articulate, to be worth listening to, or to simply bring value to a conversation that I’m a part of. I want to learn to be able to organize the jumble of thoughts in my head into something worth listening to or reading.

I think the hardest yet most comforting mental state is realizing that God made me this way. He designed me this way, knowing my desires and dreams, to be dependent on Him in the times where I not only feel inadequate, but actually am. He’s created a need for Himself, in me. He’s also created me to not be lazy, to work hard, to persevere, to overcome the shortcomings within myself. I have a lot of learned behaviors that I’m constantly trying to refine so I can be more effective and valuable to my relationships, friends, and job role.

It’s possible that I may never feel confident in my ability, but I think if I ever do, it will be for the worst. My dependence on me would rise at the cost of my dependence and reliance on God, even in the little things. I want to be better, not so I look better, but so God in my looks His best.

Being someone who’s rather private, it’s no secret that I’m insecure about a lot of who I am and what I do, so I suppose it’s about time I say what everyone else is probably already saying about me. It’s time to be a bit more vulnerable, because it’s a lie if I think I’m keeping any secrets (I’m a terrible liar, even to myself).

I have lots of learning and growing to do, but the journey is better than the destination. Here’s to life lived richly, not in the pursuit of riches.

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