A little more than a decade ago, I left the advertising business.
I had been named co-head of one of the world’s largest digital agencies, but my day-to-day existence was as far from the pleasures and sorrows of advertising work as Auschwitz is from Eden.
I had been elevated out of relevance.
In those days I had this picture of myself in my head. I saw myself tied to a dolly and wheeled by senior account people from meeting to meeting. In those meetings I would say something oddly relevant, or strangely clarifying, or an inciting insight, and then I would be wheeled to the next meeting.
I hated it.
And I turned my efforts back from where they had been directed. I wanted to be a copywriter again. I wanted the fear and pressure. The dire deadlines. The horrible politics, thievery and back-stabbing. I wanted to be, not above the fray, in an ossified office, but back doing, for all its crap, back doing the work.
It’s work that gives us joy. It’s creating things born like Athena fully-formed from the head of Zeus.
There is pain in this. A lot of pain. Insecurity. Failure. And the heart-twisting pressure and weight of coming through with the goods.
Maybe, since I’ve been a copywriter since 1980 (it only feels like I’ve been one since 1908) coming through is easier for me, or more of a “sure thing.”
But the thing about creativity is this: Past performance is no predictor of future success.
The only predictor is doing it.