Here’s an interesting thought for all of you career-minded folks out there: if you went back in time as your current self and was able to meet your self at 9 years old, what would your younger self think of your current self?
I recently read an article in this month’s Popular Photography that said a key to creativity is “unleashing your inner 9-year-old”. In other words, allowing your unrestricted creative side to take center stage, ignoring aspects of practicality and the limitations of your current camera technology.
It made me wonder, “Would my 9-year-old self think my current self is cool?” And also, “Is this even remotely important to the world of advertising and interactive media?”
I’ll address the latter first: business of any kind without creativity is dead. And I’m not just talking about artistic creativity here, but creativity with finances (within legal limits), HR, infrastructure, sales, project management, IT, etc., is all critical to a properly functioning business. As a former project manager, I can often let my obsession with proper details ruthlessly crush the big idea of a dreamer, simply because the idea at the time seems impractical. But I digress. Indeed, we need to be at least as creative as a 9-year-old in order to be successful.
Now, the former: would my 9-year-old self think my current self is cool? After much debate, I think little Andy sure would, at least for the most part. The reason I can be confident about this is that I’ve been blessed to do now what I’ve always thought I’d do: have a career in advertising and in sales. So on the job front I think I’d think I was pretty cool (follow that?). Sure, my job isn’t as cool as GI Joe’s, but I wasn’t really allowed to have many of those anyway (thanks Mom).
Plus, I’ve done quite a few things to keep my 9-year-old dreams alive. Through luck, I was able to marry a wonderful woman who grew up in Kenya, and thus in 2005 I was able to drive in the African bush in a Land Rover, one of my childhood fantasies. I’ve also purchased several large kites, and thus fulfilled my childhood dream of regularly being dragged across the ground by a giant kite. I have a son, some incredible friends, and I get to do crazy stuff like stand in a freezing waterfall in January with my best friends pointing and laughing. I feel like these things would be cool to my 9-year-old self, because although I’m constantly creating new goals and priorities, I still come back to wanting to do something crazy every now and then. I think the day that stops is the day I stop being creative.
That doesn’t mean that I’m never constrained by the harsh realities of life; far from it. But I think my 9-year-old self would understand that in order to buy a new bike, you have to mow the neighbor’s lawn to make some coin. I just want to keep some dreams alive and parts of life ridiculously fun.
What things do you do to keep your inner 9-year-old satisfied?