My grandfather always had the greatest stories of besting the other guys. The people who went above and beyond what was expected of them were called “go-getters” back in his day. During a time when hard work was celebrated, when people respected knowledge and experience, Papa’s work ethic made him stand out in a good way.
Fast-forward to today and things couldn’t be more different. We’ve replaced respect with secret envy and scorn. We don’t call them “go-getters” anymore; instead they are “over-achievers,” a negative connotation associated with brown-nosing and narcissism.
Knowledge, experience, and hard work are the cornerstones of a strong designer. I’ve seen the effect this societal lexicon shift has had on my peers, some of whom cut corners or take the easy way out as to avoid an undesirable association. It’s apparent in their work as a lack of depth and judgment in their ideas.
It’s my opinion that society needs to stop putting people down for striving to do better than the best. My most successful role models in the design field have forged through difficult paths to success by tuning out the people who judge them, doing more than what was asked of them, and actively seeking out ways to build knowledge and experience in any ways they can.
But there are few who take this route in favor of the easy road.
There is a lot of talent in today’s designers, but many of them are afraid to show their full potential. There are a few times when reverting back to certain historical ideals would benefit today’s society, and this is one of them. I shouldn’t fear the “overachiever” label; I should strive for it and embrace it with integrity—just like Papa would want me to.