Stop being too “humble”

Article from the book: Survive the corporate world and succeed on your own as a creative designer – by Alex Aráez

The world in which we live nowadays is not meant for people who want to stand out.

Society teaches us to follow the rules and behave accordingly: being common is seen as a decent thing, while being different is criticised. Since childhood, our educational system and culture challenges all individuals equally, when in fact everyone is born different, with different skills and talents. This forces the majority of people to fit into certain limits or what’s considered “normal”.

These old patterns are a bit different in the creative world – whether it is design, product, architecture or whatever else – we are challenged to be different by our teachers in school, and fed with the most outstanding work that was ever made: Dali, The Bauhaus, Richard Avedon, Marcel Duchamp, William Klein, David Carson, Andy Warhol, Lazslo Moholy Nagy, Joel Peter Witkin, Escher, Ernst Haeckel… the list goes on.

Because of this, we walk out of school with more enthusiasm and energy than ever; we think we can make a change, that we can make things different and that we are ready for it. However, it doesn’t take long before most of us start running into the walls and the grinders of creative work in the real world (budget, timings, wrong management, big egos, bad taste, lack of leadership etc).

When this conflict repeats for long enough, we come back to our old patterns – the ones we have been told all our lives to follow – to be “humble” and behave accordingly to society, to follow the crowd, or like they say: “go with the flow”.

Sound familiar? Well let me remind you: “Only dead fish go with the flow”*

So leave that attitude to them. Being humble doesn’t mean that you need to be average and be happy with whatever is on your plate; being humble is just the opposite of being arrogant. Don’t confuse being humble with undervaluing yourself.

I see many people that are really brilliant in what they do, who are above average with their skills and are even touching greatness, but still, their self-image is so low that they never see themselves being great, because they are scared of going against the flow. Because they’ve been told to be humble all their lives and it has become part of their identity, something very hard to change.

This leads to the majority of people undervaluing themselves. And when they do, they get stuck in their jobs, getting shitty salaries, working on weekends and accepting awful work conditions because they think they are not enough, while other people (probably some with less skill) who simply value themselves more, end up owning a company and influencing hundreds of other people. How is this possible?

The answer is that it is all about mindset. If you don’t start raising your value, no one will do it for you, and as much talent as you might have, it won’t be enough. When I ‘say stop being too humble,’ I mean start valuing yourself. It is not about becoming arrogant, it is about raising your standards and your self-image, and guess what? You are probably better than you think you are at this very moment.

* Quote from Andy Hunt

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