Monday, May 16, 2011

77. Professional Success vs Personal Development

Milton Glaser is the graphic design world’s closest equivalent of a star-architect . Here he talks about the differences between professional success and personal development. It is directed towards young artists but the lesson is just as applicable to architects as well.

Professional Success vs Personal Development

In professional life you must discover a kind of identity for yourself, that becomes a sort of trademark; a way of working that is distinctive that people can recognize.

The reason for this is that the path to financial success and notoriety is by having something that no one else has. Kind of like a brand ( one of my most despised words)

So what you do in life in order to be professional is develop a brand, your way of working, your attitude that is understandable to others.

In most cases, it turns out to be something fairly narrow...

..and then you discover you have something to offer that is better than other people have, or at least more distinctive.

And what you do with that, is you become a specialist.
Then people will call you to get more of what you've become adept at doing.
So if you do anything and become celebrated for it, people will send you more of that.
For the rest of your life, quite possibly, you will have that characteristic and people will continue to ask you for what you have already done and succeeded at.

This is the way to professional accomplishment: you have to demonstrate that you know something unique, that you can repeat, over, and over and over until ultimately you lose interest in it.

The consequence of specialization and success is that it hurts you. It hurts you because it basically doesn't aid in your development.

The truth of the matter is that understanding development comes from failure. People begin to get better when they fail. When they move towards failure they discover something because of it. They fail again and they discover something else. So the model for personal development is antithetical to the model for professional success. As a result of that, I believe that Picasso as a model, is the most useful model you could have in terms of your artistic interest, because whenever Picasso learned how to do something he abandoned it. As a result of that, in terms of his development as an artist his results were extraordinary.


  • 14. Do Good Work & Keep Your Soul

  • 15. You have to work at it