Take your work seriously! (The principle of Creative Diligence)

Hi dear readers!

I’m especially excited to be sharing this post today. It has sat in my blog drafts for months because the post wasn’t ripe yet, but the recent turn of events in my life has spurred me to reopen this muse.

I am so passionate about this principle I am learning every day and I think you need to see this, especially if you consider yourself to be a creative. This article is a little lengthy but I assure you – it’s worth reading to the end.

My post is not an attack on the wonderful professions of medicine, law, engineering, economics and many more which have immensely contributed to the progress in our world today – and professionals will continue to break grounds. So, if you are very passionate about your professional or conventional path, this post is not for you. However, you are welcome to glean the principle for application in any area of your life.

My post is tailored to the innate creative who is stuck in the stereotype.

If you consider yourself to be a creative in thought or in practice – if wonderful ideas daily tug your mind seams and threaten to burst forth, if your hands are tremulous until you have penned down those lines of prose or those sketches, if you have been misunderstood by family and friends and repeatedly accused of daydreaming or being unserious, this post is for you.

You don’t have to think long or hard before you realize that every aspect of daily living thrives on creativity. We all have, time and again, benefited immensely from the imagination of creatives – from writers, artists, broadcasters, podcasters, musicians, movie producers, photographers, publishers, writers, audiovisual content creators to app developers/programmers, video game creators, animators, scientific innovators and tech gurus. Yet, the age-old conventional stereotypes have classified these pursuits in many people’s hearts as mere hobbies or at best side-gigs.

Growing up in Nigeria, I can authoritatively say that one of the surest point of parent-teen tension is when the JAMB* forms are about to be filled. Chances are higher that the typical parent will be more delighted to hear the child has chosen to be a doctor rather than a creative designer, and a few teens have, sadly, had guardians stand over their shoulder as they filled the forms so they would pick their parents unfulfilled dreams.

Very little has changed over the years, as many people feel that the professional careers, while difficult, promises financial security upon graduation. I agree. The admission requirements into college for “professional” disciplines are stringent and the competition remains record high. I also agree – I went to Medical School! The discipline exerted by the professors, the structure of the discipline, the rigors of the long years of study and the importance of the subject of the discipline (human life in Medicine for example) makes the professions very noble. I agree.

On the flip side, many perceive the creative path to be flippant, not requiring diligence and surely not noble enough to be a career path or a full-time thing. For parents who fear for their children, you will have a hard time convincing them that art is more than a childhood hobby, possibly because it is usually associated with beauty, intrigue, exhilaration, its results appeal to the soul and seems to be mostly enjoyable to the consumer, and the creators seems to be having a fun time creating, they conclude that the process should not require diligence.

Somehow, I think this mindset has slowly crept into the minds of creatives and non-conventional people like me that we seem to be complacent and submit ourselves to the cage of stereotype. We are not taking our creative crafts as seriously as we should and we feel very ashamed about it among family and friends.

We believe the lie that it’s just a hobby. Come off it, creative one!

Statistics show that the creative industry is a major driver for economic growth. In America for example, the creative industry contributed $698 billion to the nation’s economy and 4.7 million jobs (a 2015 report of the the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts). I can only assume that many other countries have similar data.

Think about an area of your daily life where the creative industry is not relevant? A “special” area that creativity cannot help? I’d like to see your findings in the comments below.

The myth of the starving artist is over (thank you Jeff Goins for that!) Certainly, the myth of the “unserious” is past due too. Now is time to wake up, hone your craft, launch your dream and bring beauty and impact to our world with the power of your trans-formative creativity. The potential of your creativity is only limited to the extent of your imagination and tenacity of your diligence.

The creative industry wields so much power and it requires diligence! The creative path is more self-directed as opposed to the profession, but it doesn’t take away an ounce of diligence required to thrive and create beautiful work. In fact, it should inform it.

A doctor, lawyer or any other professional will always be respected and at least be able to pay the bills but I will dare say that what makes these career paths prestigious is the thoroughness that is constructed within the fabric of training and the impact these professions have on the world.

And Creativity has that! SURELY.

I have heard of families torn apart by a promising child’s revelation that he wants to go into some form of creative industry. I feel the pain writers go through to conceptualize the many ideas that brims into overflow in their wild minds. I see the disappointment in the faces of parents when their children take on a paintbrush rather than a scalpel, and the colicky pain that surges though the hearts of a misunderstood creative.

Do you say that a writer, artist or musician (or whatever kind of creative you are) has no impact or is less important in our world?

I don’t think so.

Rather, I opine that not many unconventional people have given due diligence to pursue their paths with dignity so the society does not see it. We do not take ourselves seriously so the world emulates us!

Here, I speak to you, creative one. Gone are the days of waiting for inspiration and complacency on talent. Tim Notke is spot-on when he says that “hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard.”

Take your creative work as seriously as a physician would take his procedures and patients or an attorney will take her depositions or court hearings…

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

You may not be a street sweeper but Martin Luther King Jnr has you covered when he says that “No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

If you’re called to be a writer, painter, artist, musician, or minister (yes, this applies to spiritual ministers too) in any aspect, you must realize that your generation needs you as much as it needs the doctors, engineers, lawyers and other professionals. So, the least you can do is to dignify your strategic societal position by pursuing your path not like a hobby but with much diligence and thoroughness as a conventional professional would.

Even though there are fewer formal options of training, take your calling serious, study and learn all you can from the best mentors you can find. Spend un-clocked hours honing your craft and chart paths for posterity. Show up to work even when you aren’t inspired and Sit under the Muse till wonderful ideas drop in your spirit.

Creativity is tagged unconventional for a reason – Learn to chart the trail and set your milestones as you go.

When you become an authority in this, doctors will pay to view your exhibitions. Your books will touch millions and cross more borders than you will. Lawyers will use your words as anecdotes. Engineers will pay to listen to you. Intelligent Business school graduates will queue to apply for positions at your successful start-up. Professionals will sit under your voice and listen to you deliver counsel and your compositions will sanitize the most insane minds.

“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.” Proverbs 22:29

If you give due diligence in your work, you will stand tall among peers and kings and command confidence.

Please, carry your calling with dignity and you will see what fulfillment lies in a job well done!

You are important. The world needs you!

Cheers,

Toluwanimi

P.S. If this post does not make sense to you, then you are conventional, but it’s okay! But at least, you can be diligent in whatever path your life will take and you MUST respect the unconventional people in your life.

*JAMB – former name of the University entry exam in my home country, Nigeria.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks Tolu!

    I never forget you repeating then Tim Nokte’s statement about hard work and talent, like you did here.

    I believe everyone is a creative, and their conventional profession an adjunct, but people have not just discovered this. And I plan bringing up my kids with this mindset.

    I took to your advice months back and started taking my creative work seriously. Now I set out time weekly to have my drum rehearsals, write, among other things. Your article just spurred me on the more.
    Thanks.

    Reply

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