How to Aim for Greatness in Your Work

By Danny Rohrdanz

February 18, 2016

Many of us aim to please our clients. We want to make/design/produce things we know they will love. And so our mindset becomes, “How can I make something that will please my client?” But in doing this, we often miss out on greatness. We aim too low. Instead, we must set our goals high and develop a mindset of, “How can I make something that will be great?”

So as we wrap up our Why Work series, let’s talk through how we can aim for greatness in our work.

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Once again, Dorothy Sayers comments beautifully on this idea in her Why Work piece. She explains how “if you set out to serve the community, you will probably end up merely fulfilling a public demand – and you may not even do that. A public demand is a changeable thing.”

What a critical realization! The desires of the public change at such a fast rate that we can’t possibly keep up with them. And even if we could, we’d be limiting our work to merely what people expected.

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Sayers continues, “Nine-tenths of the bad plays put on in theaters owe their badness to the fact that the playwright has aimed at pleasing the audience, instead of producing a good and satisfactory play. Instead of doing the work as its own integrity demands that it should be done, he has falsified the play by putting in this or that which he thinks will appeal to the groundlings (who by that time have probably come to want something else), and the play fails by its insincerity. The work has been falsified to please the public – and in the end even the public is not pleased.”

If we want to create strong and authentic work, we must overcome the need for audience approval. We must aim only at creating work that is good and meaningful- without becoming overwhelmed by what this or that person may think.

Yes, there is an element of understanding your client’s vision and goals. But once you have a grasp on them, free yourself to work with one goal in mind: to make something great.

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YLM Why Work1


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