Identifying the motivator of excellence requires wrestling the ninja.

I read a blog recently that said many creatives wrestle with the lie of feeling like a fake. It got me thinking: isn’t it really a drive for excellence and making impact, and knowing you’ve got more in you to give?

Many contributing factors can impact our ability to produce the best design solution whether it be budget, timeline or client approval. When we don’t hit the mark of what we’d see as excellence it’s easy to feel like a fake or fraud because we know there’s better to be had. I have to argue though that to identify the misperception and seeing that covert little ninja liar for what he is, a fear-based perception, builds a bridge for us to cross into a different reality. The true motivation and drive is for excellence and making impact. Great design is meant to have impact on the market and the culture. I’d say understanding the difference between these motivators is key.

As creative people perfectionism is in our DNA. Held in balance it’s a healthy driver for excellence. Specific to design, which is a blend of artistry and strategy, our desire for excellence an essential element. For example, as designers we immediately see when a light font is used rather than a thin font, or when elements are off by a millimeter. As well, we can identify when a style or illustrative approach is wrong for a demographic or niche. Every good designer would argue that visual excellence is more than aesthetic beauty, it’s wise and it’s functional.

The drive for excellence isn’t competition with others, it’s actually competition with ourself.

The drive for excellence isn’t competition with others, it’s actually competition with ourself. I know when there’s more yet to be tapped in me. Budget may not allow it but that doesn’t ease discomfort when I know there’s better design to be had. And, as a leader I feel this way toward my team–not as a criticism but rather as the greatest cheerleader they will ever have.

When beautiful design is created it is utterly satisfying. Beautiful design speaks to the heart, mind and soul of a demographic. It captures aesthetic excellence and shines of visual artistry. It is efficient and functional to a degree that removes the bottlenecks, cumbersome user experiences, and complicated processes. I could do a song and dance when we make this kind of beauty. Hitting this sweet spot is ultimately the goal.

The lie of being a fake is ultimately based in knowing there’s something better to be expressed. Budget and time restraints can fuel a sense of not hitting the mark of excellence, or it can be a tutor in tapping resource within restraints. Each new project is an opportunity for developing more creativity, better processes and excellent work. Let’s go for it. Here’s to a year of making great work and impacting culture through creative excellence!