I’ll let you in on a little secret – I never considered myself naturally good at design (still don’t). At first that made me question if I was entering into the right career, but watching the olympics a few weeks back made me realise that this lack of natural talent has probably been a blessing in disguise.
You might be wondering how watching the olympics made me realise this? It was after watching Mo Farrah collect his second gold medal that I read an article about how a journalist watched him doing a brutal training session one evening when the clock was nearing midnight. The article also included this quote from Muhammad Ali
The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.
The way that this relates to me is that as I knew I didn’t have the natural talent that some designers do, I worked hard to improve my design skills. This is not trying to say that people with a natural talent for design don’t work hard, but from a personal level, knowing my weakness made me work harder to improve my design skills, whereas I probably wouldn’t have done that quite so much if I’d felt that I was naturally good as it!
I think that the defining characteristic of a good professional in any discipline is perseverance and to not be easily satisfied. Where others may stop, they’d keep going. When some might say that a project is “done”, they’d be the ones who spend an extra 5 minutes working on it making sure it’s really as good as it can be. Give it a try as doing so has helped me to be proud of my work and satisfied that I’ve tried my best!
It’s a common mistake to divide people into those with and without natural talent. People with a ‘natural talent’ can get complacent and arrogant and squander their talent – the skill is in marrying a love for a vocation with the commitment to exceed your own expectations – that combination is more valuable than a gift that is squandered – or a misplaced drive on the wrong path. Some may start further along the road but with persistence no road is barred for our travel – Power to the passionate individual as a basis for a true meritocracy.
I agree, doing something that you’re committed to and where you will not get complacent is the best position to be in!