Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How to make the best of an inferiority complex

I hate losing; I hate being worse than anyone at anything. I become agitated, often to the point of anger. While this gets me in trouble socially (this is something I've wanted to write about for a while and will try to get to this week), I have learned to use it to my advantage professionally.

Throughout my entire design process, I am constantly evaluating myself and my work. Is it good enough? Am I working hard enough? Is someone's project better than mine? This has pushed me to strive to design products that stand out from my peers. Do not believe, however, that my work is far and away the best the world has ever seen. It is, in fact, rarely the best in our studio. I simply force myself into a competitive mindset that will not accept failure.

I can see two obvious examples in my light design and our current studio with HP.

For our light, we were given very little in terms of problem statement and direction. It was basically, make a cool looking light that you can pretend relates to a movie character. In terms of doing something that would challenge and enhance my design skill set, I didn't see much point in this. I couldn't accept doing something that, though it may have looked unique, was in no way set apart from the rest of the projects. This drove me to a design that I feel was successful in being both a light and a unique, original product. Check it out in my portfolio (links are to the right.)

During our HP project, we were to define three concepts with "B" level drawings and present them to the HP staff. I was struggling with my concepts at the time, and for the first time, in my opinion, I presented bad work. Being the second student to present, I had a over two hours to dwell on what had just taken place. Frankly, I got pissed. I spent the majority of studio doodling, making lists, anything to help me figure out where to go. The concepts I produced from those two hours were more promising than anything I had created over the past week. I attribute all of this my inferiority complex. I was so upset that I was doing worse than the rest of the studio, and much more importantly worse than what I was capable of, that I could not get my mind away from my work until I improved it.

I grew up with a strange combination of winning losing. I was smart and relatively athletic, but I always felt like I was playing second fiddle to someone. Be it my older brother, who I've admired my entire life, or my own potential, I've developed a personality that doesn't accept failure. While I may not always end up at the top, I'll sure as hell be driven to get there.

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