To Go Far – Our Creative Mornings Talk
Image by Brett and Jessica Donar
Last Friday we had the opportunity speak at Creative Mornings. It was this slightly surreal moment to be honest. Mike and I have greatly valued what Creative Mornings adds to the community of creatives around the world. I mentioned some of this last week when I shared we would be speaking, but it truly was a special moment in our careers to have the chance to offer our thoughts to our community here in Raleigh/Durham. We were able to share about our growth as entrepreneurs and how it ultimately brought us together to pursue what we love in a way we never saw coming.
Below you can watch the video from our talk including the Q&A, but we wanted to share just a few of the major highlights here on the blog just incase you aren’t the video watching type. So, let’s jump in.
We began the morning by asking each of those in attendance to place on their name tag their biggest weakness. Everyone took it in their own way. Some were serious, some were funny, but all offered a level of vulnerability no matter how they took it. Being on stage we already felt incredibly vulnerable. There is nothing scarier than taking two people who work very closely behind the scenes of a blog, social platforms, or a camera to stand in front of other people to share their story and thoughts on a topic, especially a topic so intimate as humility. That aside we felt it was only fair we also share our own weaknesses:
Mike: Creating without boundaries.
For Mike, no boundaries isn’t a freeing thing it is a limiting thing. The blank page and idea of endless opportunities scares him. He needs structure in order to begin.
Megan: The details.
For me, I can develop new ideas all day, but working to take the idea to a final product is a frustrating and challenge process for me. This results in me continually falling short of my own expectations in my work. It has been a huge thing to overcome as an entrepreneur as you are both the idea and detail person many times.
We wanted to begin at this place of openness for our talk because we felt it was better to not rattle off our achievements but rather to acknowledge where we each have short-comings. It immediately sets you in an honest place to openly talk about your weaknesses to a group of people you respect and value. So, I ask you as you read this to be honest about your own weakness. You may think, “Megan, really? This is just making me feel pretty shitty and bad about myself?” Don’t worry, you will feel different at the end, just be open and willing enough to know where you are weakest in your creative process and your career. Have I ever led you astray? Well maybe that one time, but trust me on this one.
Mike and I both worked separate from each other for almost three years in our own career. We pursued different things. I worked here on growing this space on my own for the most part and grew a design studio. Mike jumped head first into the agency world and pursued his dreams. We were encouraged by so many friends to pursue working together, but it was a scary thing that we honestly were not ready for. In the moment we were simply just full of pride and desire to go on our own in our own way even though we loved each other. We obviously got married, but thought it best to continue chasing our own dreams separate from each other.
It wasn’t till we were given the opportunity to work on a project together in Paris (remember our 16 days of Type in Paris?) This space, TFE, housed the moments that brought us together. It acted as this journey, book, or journal of us discovering a city, finding our passions, renewing ourselves creatively, and letting go of all that held us back from moving forward in our careers. If you go back in this space to our Euro 2012 trip, you will watch Mike and I slowly find our footing in our careers and then where it all clicked that we needed to come together as business partners. It was a defining moments in our career to see how we could work together, not kill each other, and in fact we were creating what we had always hoped to and more.
It was a major point in our careers. A time where we felt uneasy in many ways, but also incredibly sure and blissfully blind to the risk. This feeling and act we were taking in our careers in that moment was where the name Wild Measure emerged for our studio. From the moment Mike and I decided to work together, we saw our work shift and become slowly less about our own individual skills but about how our skills combined ultimately created greatest work. We still see this today. The greatest work we create on the blog, in our studio, for our clients, for ourselves is not when we create on our own, but when we do it together. That moment of realizing I am better with him than without him in my career was monumental because for the first time we both saw that we had crossed the bridge from where we were to where we wanted to be.
We have watched humility be the secret to a successful career not only in our own relationship navigating an emotional relationship and business partnership, but even amongst our clients, friends, other business owners, other creatives, and more. We have also seen pride be the monster that destroys all the dreams we may have. Though humility is scary, it is scary to lose your dreams to pride in whatever ugly way it rears its head.
This idea of humility in your career and choosing it is against our nature as creatives. We live in a world that tells us the louder we shout, the more we stick to our guns, and the more instagrams we post, selfies we take, and gloat about our work the more potential for success we have. By nature as creatives we are born to be individualists and we lean toward self-reliance more than being dependent because we believe we are in it alone and it’s the only way to get your name in lights. This makes it easier to remain within your individual bubble, just doing it on your own, “fighting the good fight” than it is to say I need help in order to get to where I want to be. When we choose humility and recognizing our short comings we can begin the process of change. Self-reflection is a powerful skill in growing as a creative.
How do you do this? You have to let go of pride, control, doing it your way, staying tunnel visioned on your own career, and we have to choose to look up, face our fears, acknowledge the weakest places in ourselves, and be willing to say I can’t go it alone. This is where you will find yourself willing to take investment, a successful partner in your business, a mentor, a counselor, a lawyer, a financial planner. This is where you truly will begin the process of crossing over to where you want to be in your career. It won’t be easy. It will be a daily choice, but no one said easy developed anything great. The toughest decisions are the ones that are transforming in our careers and journey.
For Mike and I, this is a daily fight within ourselves, our personal relationship, and our business relationship. I have to let go sometimes and let go of pride and control nearly everyday. I brought someone else into what I was doing. Not only that, I brought my husband, the one person I am supposed to be most trusting and intimate with. Yet, I still have to choose to let him in and allow him control even though there is no one else I trust creatively more than him? It isn’t easy even with all the trust I have in him. There are times I have to be patient with him as he finds his way in his own career and him with me as I do the same. We both daily let go. We find patience and find strength together by acknowledging that we both have our shortcomings. I offer Mike the structure he needs by giving him the idea to begin with and he shows me how we will make it happen. When we find that synergy together that is when the world is right for us. It takes work, but together we know can go further side-by-side than on our own.
Though, this is applicable to our lives as a couple, I think there is also a larger more grander scale of how humility can apply within a community. It is true that we are only as strong as the weakest link. When we are able to acknowledge each of our own strengths there lies an opportunity to grow stronger not only within your business but as a community of entrepreneurs. When we individually or as a group can recognize our weaknesses not as a point of failure, but as an opportunity to get to where we want to be, not as something that holds us back, we can begin the process of growing together. Great things come out of healthy creative communities that are willing to humble themselves, help one another, take away the competition, and offer an environment to foster innovation and great ideas. That is the kind of world I hope everyday to grow both here locally and on the internet. Amazing things can happen when humility enters the picture.
So to put it simply this African proverb sums up the power of humility so perfectly:
To go fast; go alone. To go far; go together.
I hope you enjoy the talk and feel free to drop any further questions below or shoot me an email. I don’t have a problem elaborating on anything you would like to know more about.
Thanks again for all your amazing support and to all those that attended and supported us. We felt so thankful and loved by our friends and community that day. It truly blew me away.