Job Description: Ditch it to survive as a Creative.
Before I start discussing job descriptions, I want you to watch this video. I never watch any YouTube ad until the end. The only ad that I watched with full attention was this one by Skillshare (this article is not sponsored) :
I am not going to discuss whether or not this is an example of revolutionary advertising. It is, but that’s not my point here. The message conveyed in this advertisement resonated on every level with my personal values – and also the content that I am trying to create on this platform.
A few weeks back, I wrote an article: To be the Noun, Do the Verb, where I pointed out that as a creative, our main focus should be to create, not run after a job title. Often, we get so caught up in the idea of earning a job title, we stop doing the job altogether. If we rather focus on doing the verb to the best of our abilities, we will naturally get the title, and much more.
What is a Job Description?
[NOUN] A formal account of an employee’s responsibilities.
The job description typically tells you what your main duties, responsibilities, and working conditions are. You are given a job title and told to whom you are supposed to report.
Why a Job Description?
- The main purpose of the job description is to collect job-related data to advertising for a particular job. It helps in attracting, targeting, recruiting, and selecting the right candidate for the right job.
- It is done to determine what needs to be delivered in a particular job. It clarifies what employees are supposed to do if selected for that particular job opening.
- It gives recruiting staff a clear view of what kind of candidate is required by a particular department or division to perform a specific task or job.
- It also clarifies who will report to whom.
Why do I hate a Job Description?
Hate is a strong word, so let me explain myself. Job descriptions are a natural by-product of a job, and I am not advocating for its abolishment. I just hate the fact that it often fuels compliance in a human being, the enemy of creativity. When you restrict yourself and do only the job you are told to do, the work that is assigned by your boss, life becomes boring.
Do the job that you require to do as an employee, but don’t stop there. Move around and ask other people what they are working on. Maybe help them out. Assist them, and teach yourself some more skills in the process.
Whatever you do, make sure to follow your curiosity. If something intrigues you, lean in and learn anything and everything that you can learn about it. Leverage the power of internet and cheap data packs.
Never say, “Well, that’s not what people like me do.” Never.
Pretend You Have Two Jobs (perhaps more).
Most people have a day job that ensures financial stability. They pursue their creative interests as a hobby. If you are one of them, by all means, continue doing that. If you are satisfied with the amount of time you devote to your creative endeavors, I have nothing new to tell you. However, I encourage you to try out new skills – even if you don’t intend to master them, make it a point to indulge in diverse creative activities on a daily basis.
But if you are someone who feels ‘STUCK’ in your day job, pay attention to what I am about to say. I bet you drew with crayons as a child. I bet you let your imaginations go wild as a child, and cook up stories and imaginary threats around you while playing with your toys. I invite you to do the same today.
Maybe you were a talented writer in your high-school. Or maybe, you used to be a good cook in your college dorm.
Maybe you were an enthusiastic dancer while growing up. Ask yourself: “How will I act if this creative hobby is a second job for me? How will I act and manage my time if instead of just one day job, I had two jobs?” I want you to start treating these long-forgotten hobbies of yours as seriously as you treat your day-job. Start acting like your life depends on how well you perform in these two (perhaps more, if you can come up with more than one creative interests) jobs at the same time.
If you think, “It’s just a hobby, I will get back to it on the weekends,” I bet you will flunk it and start watching Netflix. it just doesn’t work this way. In order to thrive as a creative and been taken seriously by other people, you need to act like it is serious to you first. Carve out 7 to 10 hours every week and start treating your creativity like it is a “real job”.
Job Description STOPS you from Diversifying your Portfolio.
If you are familiar with financial investments, you will know that a good investor never invests all his money in one place. He strategically plans all his investments to ensure multiple steady streams of income.
If you want to thrive as an artist, you need to invest in more than one set of skills. Will you expect to reap a lifetime of financial abundance just because you invested in stock in your 20s? No, right? You need to keep planning and investing your money for a few more decades to be able to afford the steady flow of passive income.
Similarly, it’s absurd to expect to thrive as creative by using just the skills you acquired in your 20s. You GOT to upgrade your skills if you want to stay in the market. You got to diversify your portfolio. You got to try different forms of creative writing. you got to explore every genre of photography there is. You got to master a wide range of musical instruments.
Even then, it’s not enough. Once you have explored every inch there is in your craft, you got to move on to the next one and repeat the process. And keep repeating until you die. If you only operate within your job description, you will become extinct faster than you can imagine.
Where the Magic happens.
In his podcast, Your Job is More than Your Job Description, Chase Jarvis discusses how the truly remarkable people are not only the masters of their craft but also a combination of other skills that enhance their craft and help it reach more people. He calls these secondary skills “toppings that they sprinkle on their work.”
We are living in the age of ‘Hyphens’ – the photographers that truly lead the market are skilled at marketing as well, the contemporary popular authors are speakers as well, the designers are strategists as well. Chase says, “The characteristic that the best performers I know, the best humans, in fact, is that they lean into being this hyphen, rather than run away from it, rather than focusing exclusively on the core.”
Excelling at your craft is non-negotiable. You can be insanely good at digital marketing and driving traffic to your blog. But if you don’t have a blog that reflects genuine quality, that adds value to other people’s lives, then you won’t succeed as a blogger. Knowing Digital Marketing is essential to bring people on your platform, but being good at your craft is what makes them come back for the 100th time. Both of these go hand-in-hand.
So, where does the magic happen? It happens when you master the tasks specified in your job description, and then go out and get inspired by people from other industries. It happens when you collaborate with a person who has a set of skills that is complementary to your own, and together you create something phenomenal.
Spend a decade or so mastering your core craft, then get started with the next craft that you want to master. And don’t stop when you have mastered that one. Move on to the next. As you get yourself in this mindset of a lifelong learner, you will not have to force yourself to create something that nobody has done before. Our brain is a wonderful organ, it will create connections between different interests of yours without you having to consciously plan it out.
So, the magic happens when you dare to do something that’s not included in your job description. It happens when you master a whole range of skills – the magic happens at the intersection of these crafts. The magic happens when you dare to adopt the mindset to take risks and explore all possibilities.
Who else did it before you?
- In 1985, the American singer Michael Joseph Jackson was becoming one of the most popular musicians in the world, piling up one hit record after the other. At this time, when everyone expected him to double down on his own craft, he started focusing on investments. He paid $47.5 million to purchase a music catalog containing 250 songs by the Beatles. Today, the value of those songs has become more than $0.5 billion. Michael Jackson didn’t believe that he was just supposed to play music and perform on stage (that was his traditional job description). He dared to orchestrate eight-figure acquisitions and in turn managed to preserve an important piece of history.
- When world-famous artist Michelangelo was approaching his mid-life, he started honing a new skill – architecture. Consequently, he designed St, Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Instead of doubling down on the skills he had already acquired as an artist, he went out and started learning a new one. Michaelangelo kept reinventing himself throughout his life and kept learning new skills as and when the needs arose. Today, he is remembered as a sculptor, a poet, a painter, and an architect.
- Jasmine star found herself in a law school after her high-school graduation. however, soon she picked up a camera, pursued her curiosity, and built herself a successful business as a photographer. Now, a decade later she dedicates her life to train and educate entrepreneurs to do the same.
The Key Point that I want you to remember.
The work that you set you apart from the others in the creative industry will not just be your primary craft. It will be the work where you combined two seemingly unrelated fields and made something extraordinary out of it. It will be the project in which you stop listening to the voice inside your head that says, “I am an artist, I don’t do these things.”
The connections you can establish between two or more unrelated topics is unique to you. That’s where your creativity expresses itself fully. The way you think and relate to contrasting concepts and the ideas that spring from it are not going to manifest themselves in this world unless you do something about them. You need to pen them down and strategically work on the ideas so that others can see them too.