The work that matters

When I was a teenager, I could draw quite well, and I believed in my heart of hearts that one day I would do this thing that I loved so much for a living.

It sung to me a Siren’s song.

This simple act of sitting quietly, sometimes for hours on end, and drawing. This was something I would’ve been happy doing forever.

See, I'm what they call an extroverted introvert.

Yes that's a thing and I'm it.

I'm quiet in a crowd yet I feel comfortable speaking to a large one. I crave true connection and yes, small talk is one of my worst nightmares. I need alone time; more than many and I always — always — have an escape plan.

I like to sit on the aisle seat in the cinema. Just in case.

Extroverted introvert at your service.

I digress.

In my Pinterest feed I have a board called 'Studio'.

This board is a curation of images that were in my head when I was a teenager of the studio I would once sit at as an old man.

A simple drawing board for drawing. A space where I might work on a computer and do digital things. A space to be messy and loud — and of course, a space to soak in the silence that I sometimes crave.

Over the years, I would find myself staring at images of artist's and illustrator's studios. I would secretly diagnose why they would place their drafting table next to the plans press, and why they would decide to face away from the light instead of towards it. I’d look at how they organised their tools. Distance from the drafting table mattered.

I would seek their plans for large, open table space and yes, their sense of organisation of the little things.

This was my dream of the work I would do and the space I would do it in.

The work that mattered to me and nobody else.

This was a space that only existed in my dreams and eventually, on my Pinterest board.

Naturally, life takes a range of twists and turns and I have something that resembles those studios in my life, but the disparate parts are spread across a range of spaces.

My bookshelf at home houses books that mean the world to me. My office is filled with light and good, no, wonderful people. My drawing implements are wrapped carefully in a small bag I call my 'drawing bag' and my work is a mixture of creativity, ideation and innovation. Three things that come together to form something of which I am very grateful.

My teenage dreams might only exist on my Pinterest board, but I know where to look to find proof of their reality.

Even if my 'drawing bag' is sitting next to my smelly gym bag.

It's not pretty, but it's there.

Do you know where to look to find your own work that matters?

See, I ask you this question not to provoke you, but to wake you up from a slumber.

For too long we toil with what the corporate world calls "BAU". Business As Usual. The Day-To-Day. The drudge. The Daily Slog. And we lose sight of the things that truly move us. The work that inspires us. 

Believe me, I’ve seen so many Designers create concepts for clients that have not lived up to their own inspiration boards. Why?

For too long we forget that inside us is a song that is crying out to be sung. A dream, yes, to be dreamt, but also to be made into reality.

For too long we put up with ordinary, and dream of the extraordinary.

As Creative Leaders we have the ability to transform industries. We are the entrepreneurs, the cage rattlers and the ideators. The Creative Class that Richard Florida told us about so many years ago.

As Creative Leaders we are the ones that reimagine tomorrow — we are the ones that inspire the new and the yet to be imagined.

We are the ones that start revolutions.


We are the ones that dream dreams, and turn some of those dreams into a start.

The start of something new.

Today, if you do one thing — go and find the work that matters to you. The work that fills your heart and floods your mind with wonder. The work that makes you smile.

And, if you can’t find it today; ask yourself if you are currently doing the work that matters to you most. Ask yourself what inspires you, what moves you, what brings you to tears of fulfilment. Ask yourself what it is that you could do forever, that you could toil with and be proud of.


That thing that helps you walk tall. 

That single, quiet and introverted thing that matters to you most. 

Go and do that.