Approach it with pride. Maybe pride is the wrong word because it’s considered the single most egregious of the seven deadly sins. Maybe selfless pride is what I am after (if that’s not a contradiction in terms). Regardless of the label, let me try to illustrate what I mean.
Whether it’s something large or small in scope, with high or low visibility, important or frivolous—like a good Cub Scout—I try to do my best. On the graphic design side of my life, a lobby poster promoting an event in the auditorium deserves the same level of attention as a glossy Annual Report. I must confess the lobby posters don’t always get their proper due, but I try.
The other day a coworker came up to me and asked if I had something that he could use to scratch an initial into the plastic cap of his flash drive to identify it as his. The designer in me took the few extra seconds to legibly incise the letter “R”—making it fancier than it needed to be—rather than quickly and crudely scratching it in. It wasn’t the Mona Lisa, just the letter R sliced into a plastic flash-drive cap with an X-acto knife. But it was more than the client expected and he left loudly proclaiming the graphics department’s superior customer service. Another happy customer.
Art, design, the written word, music, it’s all the same thing. Whether I’m working on my latest work-in-progress or tapping out an e-mail, I try to make it coherent, informative, understandable, descriptive, engaging, moving, clever, humorous, or dramatic—not all at the same time, mind you—only what is called for and then a little more. Even something as mundane as mowing the lawn is worthy of some amount of pride. I’m not one of those yard fanatics but when I’m done I want to stand back and be able to say, “Looks nice!”
As a new author, the most important words of advice that I have received are “write well.” I strive to provide the best product I can. If I have parameters to operate within then I create the best work that falls within those boundaries. I know what I’m capable of, and I try to rise to that capability.
If pride is a sin, it’s a sin I’m willing to commit. Maybe I have the definition wrong, but I don’t see anything immoral about refusing to settle for less than my best effort—taking pride in what I do. Now excuse me while I take the trash out—with pride!