When it comes to creativity, James Victore has made his name known in a number of ways. The renowned designer is a thought leader in his discipline, using his provocative style to help people find clarity and purpose in their life and work. He lectures and teaches all around the world, inspiring thousands to discover their unique gifts and find success in the projects they love.
James is also a published author, having written the acclaimed book “Feck Perfuction: Dangerous Ideas on the Business of Life” which is set to be continued with a follow-up this year. There’s truly no better person to take advice from when it comes to unleashing creativity – which is why I’ve sat down with him for this podcast.
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A child of two military parents, James Victore grew up the bases of America’s Armed Forces. Not the most exciting place to be as a kid, as you could imagine. He recalls much of his childhood being defined by order and rules.
Do this, not that. Stand up straight. Stop doodling in your notebooks. Clean those crayons off the porch.
Who could be expected to live by such oppressive standards? It was a life that James clearly wasn’t made for – constantly bucking expectations and fighting to be himself in a world of strict guidelines.
But it’s also something that he credits with much of his current success. Aside from good posture, James says that the defiant mindset military life instilled in him has ultimately helped him stand out from the crowd.
“Question authority” – his jeans were etched with the phrase as a kid, and today, his career is defined by it.
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We’re Not Sheep
Foraying into the field of graphic design, James was quick to notice rules in what he was being taught and didn’t like it. Everything seemed too cookie-cutter, by-the-book and ironically enough, non-creative. Rather than following the pack and being shepherded into the same approach, he broke out and decided to do things his own way.
Rather than being a sheep, he was proud to be the wolf.
James’ design career quickly took off as soon as he started to trust his own instincts and not be afraid to take risks. His fresh perspective has earned him the respect of peers, clients, and bosses alike. In the same way that his parents’ military background taught him discipline and dedication, it also showed him how to be an individual and not accept the status quo.
According to society’s greater narrative, achieving greatness in life is a matter of commitment to due process and nothing else. Go to school, get good grades, meet certain standards, progress at a certain rate and you’ll have proven your value. But at the same time, most of the people who we’re told are inspirations, revolutionaries and true successes don’t have that kind of backstory.
From Elon Musk and Oprah Winfrey to Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Jordan and Bill Gates, life’s greatest role models come from paths that bucked conventional norms. We laud them for their innovative ideas and ways of thinking, yet rarely seek to embody the maverick style that they had to have in order to get where they are.
Parents, teachers and guidance counselors say “be like these people someday” while literally steering us down the opposite path. We can’t have it both ways.
“But That’s Not How the World Works”
Instead of defaulting to what is and isn’t conventional, James aims to take expectations down along with the naysaying that enforces them. A lot of this, he says, requires ‘unlearning’ what we’ve been taught and training our minds to think differently. Referencing an example of his students, he tells me that people often come to him with the same kind of preconceived notions and attitudes.
“Sure, that’s a cool idea, but it’s not how the world works”
But what if it was?
Conforming to the status quo means automatically limiting yourself and your potential. Simply saying that something “can’t be done” creates that reality – which is a garbage one, if we’re being honest.Rather than resigning to a predestined fate, why not imagine our future as something beautiful? Click To Tweet
Rather than resigning to a predestined fate, why not imagine our future as something beautiful? Why not be the creative leaders who are in charge of their own destiny? It’s not that James is a rule breaker – he just believes in challenging what rules prescribe.
What’s the World Missing? You.
The problem with today’s culture of conventions is that it can only get us so far. Sure, basic expectations like getting an education or gaining work experience help start things off, but they won’t make the difference between where you are now and where your potential can take you.
While some consider traditional paths as the tried and true ways to success, logic suggests otherwise. If everyone followed the exact same course, did the same things and measured themselves by the exact same standards, no one would be special. Nothing unique would set us apart from one another, and we’d probably be a lot farther behind as a society.
According to James, truly excelling in a crowded world requires a commitment to being yourself and tapping into the things that set you apart. Those weird traits, inclinations and characteristics we’re all told to suppress as kids are what give us our unique personalities, and ultimately, our value.
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When everyone else is too busy trying to fit in, those who are willing to challenge the status quo and stand out shine the brightest. James Victore has made it his life’s mission to bridge that gap, showing the world that you can break out of the mold and still be successful. He knows that we, as individuals, have the power to shape our own destinies through creative thinking and a willingness to challenge the rules.
It’s not about breaking the rules – it’s about how to make them work for you. That’s James’s message, and it’s one that we should all take to heart.
PS. Highly recommend James’ new class Born Creative. Use code JAMES23 at checkout and receive $50 off 🥳.