what can i make next?

I’ve been watching the documentary “Abstract”. It follows the lives and careers of artists from very different fields…an architect, a photographer, a set designer, even the Air Jordan shoe designer. As a technical artist, it has been so great to watch and learn from other types of artists, so as someone who loves a good documentary, it has been an amazing series.

One of the more fascinating episodes was about Paula Scher, a graphic designer who is a principal at a very influential design firm’s office in New York City. She started out as an album cover artist and designed some of the most iconic album art for groups like Boston, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson…you get the picture. She basically owned album art in the late 70’s through the 80’s.

From there she went on to brand design and has been equally prolific…Citibank, CNN, Windows 8, Shake Shack…you know, whatevs.

It is difficult to imagine how someone can be in the same field for so many years and still be so original, creative and relevant.

As someone who works in the local church, creating services every week, it can get a bit overwhelming to be original, creative and relevant. How can we tell the same story again in a fresh way? How can we leverage technology to help achieve this? Is there anything new?

All this leads to something that Paula said in the episode of Abstract:

“I’m driven by the hope that I haven’t made my best work yet. What can I make next?”

What a freeing concept! And what an amazing lens with which to view each new challenge!

If I’m honest, I usually get anxious and defensive when a new project comes along. Will I have any good ideas? Will I fail, utterly? What if, what if, what if?

Unfortunately, most of us tech people have a bad reputation for having a negative initial response to a new idea. We are figuring out how to create an environment where failure can’t happen, so our immediate reaction can be “it can’t be done”. Since a service going perfectly is the expectation, it makes good sense that we’d be protecting that standard.

However, in an attempt to create the “perfect” service by doing only what we know, we shut ourselves off to potentially a better way.

In this mode of thinking, our best work is behind us.

How can we approach our upcoming services with the idea that it may contain our best thinking, our best effort, our best work?

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