January 24

“If you had unlimited time and unlimited budget, what would you do with this project?”

I was once asked this question by a client. While they certainly had good intentions, the question is truly irrelevant, because it’s based on a fundamental falsehood. We all have limits we must abide by in our work. In fact, much of theactualcreativity involved in creating for a living isn’t about the work itself but about how to do the work in a way that delivers both on timeandon budget.

It’s tempting to resent this tension when the pressure is on or when you don’t have the resources to deliver your best idea, butthat’s the job. That’s what you do! You are a professional. When someone has a leaky pipe, you don’t ask your plumber, “Now, if you had all the time and money in the world, how would you solve this problem?” No, you simply want it fixed well.

Strive not to complain about what you wished you could have done or about the compromises you had to make (that only you see!) in your work. The job of a creative pro is to deliver results, which means dealing with limitations. You may not always be thrilled with every project, but you must always do your job. That’s what pros do.

When creating on demand, you must live with the tension between what’s possible and what’s practical.

Is there a project right now in which you are wrestling between possibility and practicality?

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