With more and more companies realising the value of designers, the design industry is booming. And everyone is working hard to remain competitive in this industry. By now, many of us have already gained a lot of exposure, build a great following over social media channels and are recognised over large design communities. But how does this exposure came to them? Is there a defined path to achieve what all they have achieved? Can we achieve that same success by following them? If you are a newbie who has just started designing, this is the right place where you’ve landed. In this blog, I’ll be answering these questions.
Defined path to success is a fallacy
You are probably dreaming if you’re thinking that this article will help you find a defined path to success. Burst your dream bubble and accept the fact that there is no defined path for success. What worked for others might not work for you. So stop following others and find your own path to success. Following popular people’s path might save you from committing mistakes that they might have committed but it will not work in long term. Life is uncertain and so you might face a difficulty in a different way. What you’ll do then? Which person you’ll follow now? You’ll not find a person standing alongside with you with whom you can tag along every time. You will have to make hard decisions sometime on your own. Depending on other people for help will not work always. Become independent and make your own path to success.
“If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.” -John D. Rockefeller
Be yourself. Embrace Individuality
What made these popular designers popular? They too started like us, faced many difficulties, made some hard decisions, committed mistakes and learned from them. Each of their stories was unique. They had their own set of problems and they faced all of them gracefully. Is your story unique or you have been following other’s path till now?
It’s so easy to compare yourself with others and let yourself down. We should accept the fact that there will always be someone with higher skills and personality. Learning same skills like them will not help you. And even faking it for the sake of getting a job won’t help you unless you can show a valid proof of your skills. Many budding designers write experienced UX Designers on their profile. But quite a few of them actually have sufficient projects in their portfolio to prove that they are proficient in UX skills. It’s ok if you don’t know a skill. You may be a wonderful designer with some different skill set. Believe in your own strengths and accept that everyone is different. Work hard to polish your skills and you’ll do great. Believe in yourself. Learn to be content with whatever you’ve got. Find how you can make difference with these skills. Don’t fake them and embrace individuality.
“The intrinsic path to success is to focus on being the person that you are, and put all of your energy and drive into being the best possible version of yourself.” -Paul Buchheit
Did I say copying is bad?
Austin Kleon in his book “Steal like an artist” says that no artist’s work is ever completely original and that trying to be completely original will daunt an artist and eventually smothers his creativity. He gave a beautiful analogy of genes. He said that how two genes fuse to give a unique characteristic gene, Ideas are also remixed or modified versions of other’s ideas. Start copying from others but don’t copy from a single person. Copy from multiple people. Gather positive traits from all of them, remix them, adapt this unique personality and start polishing it over time. I highly recommend reading “Steal like an Artist” book, if you haven’t read it already.
“When people call something ‘original,’ nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references or the original sources involved.”- Jonathan Lethem
It’s said that when you expose yourself to challenges and take risks, it’s when you realise your real potential. Try to push your existing comfort zone boundaries. Don’t be afraid to take challenges because of the fear of failures. You need to challenge existing patterns and what people are doing for so long. If you really want to be seen in the flock of sheep and want your voice to be heard, you need to do something different. This can be as simple as starting your blog series, immersing yourself into side projects, starting podcast series, or creating video tutorials. Doing any of these will pose you to new challenges and you’ll learn a lot. And you won’t realise that you have set your own unique identity. You’ve gained more exposure and have an improved skill set by now.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ― Nelson Mandela
Change your mentors when needed
Take this advice with a pinch of salt but it’s really important. If you’re my junior reading this article, I advise you to find a new mentor if I am not able to guide you in the direction you wanted to grow.
It’s very important to grow in the direction you want instead of the direction your mentor is growing.
Your mentor would be able to guide you through the challenges he had faced or the path, he is himself headed to but not where you wanted to move ahead.
When I received a dribbble invite earlier than my mentor, Vineet Arora, I remember him saying to me that this is till where I could guide you, now you need to find some other mentor who will teach you how to market yourself on dribbble.
Now it all makes sense. It is important to change your mentors when it is needed. It also opens a way to new opportunities. When you follow a single mentor for a long time, It will make you narrow-minded. You will start observing things from your mentor’s lenses. This can hinder your growth and smother your creativity. Having different perspective of things in design will really help you. You’ll find a new mentor in any direction you want. People are always ready to help out but you need to reach out to them.
Summing it up
“The ladder of success is never crowded at the top.”-Napoleon Hill
There is no easy way to achieve success. Stop looking for what others are doing. It’s when you start believing yourself, you’ll be able to do great things in your career. Find your own path to success or make one by yourself. Then only you’d be able to reach the top where nobody was able to.
It’s the desire to inspire others that have kept me growing. Have you found out your unique path yet? Do let me know in comments.