Yesterday, after much wine, my friend Jim and I got talking.
He spoke to me of his brilliance at school; how he was hailed as a genius and a gifted student. And now he is, to put it in his words, “just a recruiter”.
He said it kills him when he thinks about it, and part of me deep inside opened up and bled for him.
It resonated with a part of my own story.
I was never really gifted academically, in the conventional sense, but I was always eager to learn and exceptionally good at what I was good at – art, writing and performing.
I suppose you could say now I’m “just a PR person”.
I’ve been told that my strategies and ideas are excellent, but I am really just one of a very large army in London.
The way I justify it is that I took a love of storytelling and turned it into a job. PR and marketing is, essentially, how to tell a story; how to spin an angle and how to convey thoughts, ideas and concepts around a product, along with targeting and testing.
Maybe I’m just kidding myself but that’s how I choose to look at it.
But it does make me a little said. Nothing new, just sad I guess for the general state of affairs: millions and millions of talented people who will do nothing more for their careers than sit and click. Pen emails for others to answer. Spend a lifetime looking busy.
It makes me think of how much I’ve always loved to tell stories, but often fond of so hard to write novels. There never seems to be the time, though I completely accept that is down to my own intuitive and if I really wanted to find the time I should and could. I wouldn’t much mind of it only sold a handful of copies, but it would be putting something out there: a creative achievement.
Perhaps part of it is connecting with that child in me, so long repressed and pushed down through life and circumstance, who used to create things so easily.
They now seem buried under all the things that life has thrown at me, but I find if I sit and listen I can hear their little plaintive cry still.
The desire to create. To be free.
I learned at my last contract position that it is so often about the attitude. I don’t want to put my friend or myself down, there’s no doubt we’re both talented, but I think everyone has been told at some point or another that they’re special. It was such a hard lesson, as someone who always did have a spark or two in certain things, to realise that you’re no more or less brilliant than the person next to you.
In fact, I often found that many of the people who have done the best in life are those who never seem to have much of a spark of brilliance, but who are diligent, who know how to connect with other people and who take pride in what they do.
Could it ever be possible that a spark of brilliance is more hindrance than blessing? We live in the real world; there is no longer a place for philosophers and poets, not in the real sense anyway. They are the fluke exception and not the rule. The day to day rules are that we try to do what we can, hopefully we find some spark of interest and enjoyment in what we do.
But go in with the right attitude and you can make even the mundane into the extraordinary. Take pride in the work that you do, whether it is admin or art, and you can find your interest in a project soar.
When you go in with the inherent arrogance of brilliance, is anywhere and anyone going to be good enough?