Growth vs Applause


I recently read a piece on Ryan Gosling in Vanity Fair. He was talking about taking a break from acting for a while. “I’ve been doing it too much. I’ve lost perspective on what I’m doing. I think it’s good for me to reassess why I’m doing it and how I’m doing it.” It got me thinking about the choices he’s made through his career, how he’s turned down some big commercial roles and ploughed a pretty interesting path. “There’s this idea in Hollywood – and I’ve seen it work for people – where the unspoken rule is ‘Do two for them and one for yourself.’ And that’s kind of considered a fact. I’ve never really found that to be true for me. I’ve gotten more opportunities out of working on things I believed in than I ever did on things that weren’t special to me.”

This in turn got me thinking about a quote from my old boss, Siimon Reynolds, that I have BluTac-ed up beside by desk. It says, “Make your future bigger than your past by seeking growth instead of applause.” I find this a really important reminder in an industry driven by ego. So much of what we do – from using the latest cool visual technique to trying to amass twitter followers or gunning for awards – is based on the need to impress. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but to Siimon’s point, I’m always after that growth. However old or supposedly experienced I get, one of the first things I ask myself about any brief/situation/experience, is “What can I learn from this?”

Wherever possible, I try to make decisions based on their potential lasting benefits rather than the quick-hit buzz of peer approval. It doesn’t always work out and if there’s one thing as prevalent in advertising as ego, it’s compromise. But ironically, when I’ve approached things this way, plaudits seem to follow anyway. I reckon Ryan Gosling would agree. He’s got good enough at the craft of acting to create extraordinarily beautiful scenes like the one above and he gets plenty of acclaim. So I guess the Gosling Principle is something like, ‘Look after the craft and the back-pats will look after themselves.’


About antmelder
Executive Creative Director at Host/Havas Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

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