In ‘Damn Good Advice (for people with talent)’, George Lois speaks of courage thusly: “The courage to create only superb work, through thick and thin, and fight to protect it at all cost, is not generated in the head… it comes from your very heart and soul.”
I love this book, I really do. Not in a body-bumping sort of way, but for its scathing honesty. At a time when the phrase ‘I feel like’ has grossly replaced ‘I am’, we need more telling like it is. More truth.
Fighting to protect great work is not about fighting. It’s about knowing you have created work that will connect and be effective, and having the gumption to present it and manifest belief in others, such that your work will see the light of day, connect, and inspire more believers.
The creative business is presently at a tremendous crossroads where technology and software, among other factors, are undermining craft to such an extreme degree that mediocre work, the stuff that bean counters consider “good enough,” is now far more common than superb work. It is a path that leads to obsolescence.
Thing is, superb work is the stuff that truly makes bean counters happy (even if they don’t know it), because it is superb work that drives response. It’s not the metrics, analytics, or “customer acquisition” – a soulless term if ever there was one – that leads to effective design and advertising.
It’s the heart and soul work. The work that really connects stands for something and has real meaning.
Why is courage so important now?
The courage to do great work is specifically what keeps creative professionals valuable. Without that critical character attribute, creative professionals risk becoming obsolete.
When creative work has integrity, the talented people who craft it have integrity. So too do the brands that put it out into the world. When your brand has integrity, it connects, and that makes everybody happy.