There are two important virtues I think everyone should live by: Always be humble and never stop learning. These virtues not only help you to be the best person possible, but they also help to ensure that other people actually want something to do with you. Personally, I have found that the world is a much better place when I have been willing to learn and have stayed humble with any success, especially when I want people to work with me.
Everyone knows arrogant people, and everyone undoubtedly has moments of arrogance. This can be alright in some ways. Being confident in your ability and celebrating achievements can be great for self-esteem and happiness all round, but when you cross over that precipice and become someone people perceive as conceited things aren’t going to go your way. While arrogance may afford certain privileges, in the end it just doesn’t pay.
When I say arrogance doesn’t pay I don’t mean it in a financial sense. Sadly the world is likely to always be filled by entitled arrogant people, predominantly men, who will end up incredibly wealthy. But are they really fulfilled? Are they actually happy? Probably not. In fact, Billionaire’s depression is well documented, and in many cases it stems from reaching a dead end peak. This is why arrogance doesn’t pay, because when you think you’re the best you forget to keep learning, and when you stop learning, life gets very boring.
This interplay between humility and learning is vital for happiness and success, because without it you are completely shut off from opportunity. Taking chances and saying yes to new things is the only way you can learn anything, and that is exactly why you should do your best to work with as many people as possible. I have always learnt something from every job I have ever had, even if it was just how much I never wanted to do that job again. When I was an intern for a magazine I learnt to treat everyone with the same level of respect, whether they’re my boss or a cleaner. When I was a forklift driver I learnt that sometimes practice really is the only way to get good at something. And when I was a gardener I learnt that if you don’t dress for the occasion you’re going to have a bad time. All of these lessons came from the people I worked with in some way, and even if all I gained were a few anecdotes, I was richer for every person I met.
While some lessons haven’t ended up being quite so applicable to what I do now (chainsaw safety rarely arises), it showed me the importance of being humble and learning from those around you. Having left university with qualifications I was incredibly proud of it took time for me to realise how much else I had learnt that wouldn’t ever show up on a transcript. That is exactly why I was so keen to try and get people I met while I was in Canterbury to work with me on the creative projects I wanted to start. So many of my peers had taught me so much, and I didn’t want to miss out on getting their input. This also got me thinking about all the people I had known before I ventured off into the world of higher education, and how great it would be to work with them as well.
I have always been incredibly lucky to know creative people. People who are passionate about all sorts of things, and have great opinions that can spark the most lively debates. When I first started ELA one of the most exciting things was just how quickly people got behind it. So many of my friends were keen to buy shirts, and other people wanted to help me out with setting up stalls at gigs. However, the best aspect was always how willing people were to collaborate in a creative way. In some sense this presented challenges to me because I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to be making, but in other ways it shifted my ideas and ensured I was creating stuff that people would actually like. Some of my favourite memories are of photo shoots where we’d pull together a ton of people to take photos and model clothes. A lot of the time photo shoots were a real pain and lots of hard work because they never seemed to go quite as planned, whether that was down to acts of God or old men deciding we should pay thousands to use a location. With that being said, having a team of creative people working toward the same goal always made it worthwhile.
Building a team of people who you can consistently run ideas by or collaborate with is no mean feat, but when you’ve got that established it is unbeatable. The projects I have worked on have always been about creating that team, even if the only form of communication between us ends up being online. At the moment I am so happy to know that people are keen to write content, or take photos, or even just let me ask them a few questions about the things they do. I am learning a lot, and I am being humbled by the willingness people have shown to help out. It is a very exciting time and I cannot wait to see where everything goes over the next few weeks, months, and years. Here’s to the future, and to the people who are making it possible.
Photograph is a previously unreleased shot from 2011