Monday, April 22, 2013

Why I'm Thankful for the Economic Downturn

I began my career like any art director or designer does, doing production, paying my dues. But in time, and with some hard work, I finally moved my way up the responsibility ladder, and was able to sink my teeth into some fairly creative and challenging work. But eventually I became bored. I wanted more. I just couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew I wasn't just a designer. I wasn't being challenged. Yet the days grew into months, and the months into years of not doing anything about it. It wasn't until I abandoned the cushy corporate paycheck to pursue my passions that I was finally able to spread my wings and grow. 

Upon being promoted to creative director of an agency startup, I found myself a lot more involved in the strategy and planning behind campaigns; not to mention pitching and presenting to clients. I was hooked. While I still love design and remain very competitive in that arena, I've been devoting more and more of my time to copywriting and brand strategy over the past five years. But much of that came about only because I was forced to explore new opportunities, and at the same time, rediscover what I really wanted to do with my life, and what was inside of me all along.

Like many small agencies at the start of the recession, a downturn in business meant I was now on my own to find new employment. After several attempts to land something comparable however, I turned back to freelance and contract stints for survival, and soon found myself on a new journey to uncover what really motivates me most. 

You see, it isn't until life squeezes us sometimes before we learn what we're truly made of, and what we were put on this earth to do. Adversity corners us and demands of us to ask real questions, to search for real answers about the future, especially when it's our future being called into question. Only then can we come face to face with our strengths and our weaknesses and come to terms with what makes us special. It's about focus. It's about destiny.

At first I was bitter, but now I am better and more equipped to handle the challenges that come with finding the right fit. When you don't know who you are, there will always be someone with an agenda who will either mold you into what they want, or keep you stuck in a cycle of discontent and dysfunction, which never works out for either party. Great teams are built around people who not only enjoy what they're doing, but are uniquely gifted to fulfill the role and function their position requires, and that's a win-win for everybody.