Be the Maize God
I've been thinking a lot about the Aztecs lately. Primarily about their maize god, Centeotl. Earlier pan-Mesoamerican civilizations had different names for this highly regarded deity but he (and/or she, as it's a hermaphroditic deity) has a great origin story. Quetzalcoatl, a shape-shifting serpent god basically stole a kernel of maize from the netherworld and gave it to the humans. Later, Centeotl ultimately became the arbiter of the corn, overseeing growth and maturity of every ear of corn that grows. The Aztecs would put on huge festivals, perform blood-letting rituals, and perform sacrifices in the name of a good harvest thanks to Centeotl. Sounds like a good time.
I think it's fascinating that early Mesoamericans forged tales that honored their primary source of life. Rightly so too. Corn was everything for them. But what is the maize god for you or your organization? What or whom do you worship to stay alive?
If you're in the business of producing work for others, do you worship your top client? Perhaps you worship an industry or product you have always served. That makes sense, right?
But consider the other side. You don't want to be in the position of worshiping. It's a rough trade. It's can often be one-sided. Spending your hours slaving away, and sacrificing your time for your powerful god — only to be betrayed when there's a change of heart. That's a tough path few can follow.
What you really want to be in the position of is, being worshipped.
Be the resource (a linchpin if you will) to everyone you work for. If you disappear, everything suffers. Just like the maize god.
If you're producing work for clients and they are dictating your work, or don't have faith in your solutions — they're not believers. It's possible they never were in the first place. You were the one summoned to solve a problem and make things work. Don't waste a second more of your valuable time being art director'ed or micro-managed by the client. Just leave them behind.
Non-believers are looking for miracles. You may be inclined to present such a miracle. But if you do, you're now in the business of having to regularly provide miracles to re-up their faith in you — and ultimately you'll part ways anyways because miracles do not grow on trees. Don't waste your time, just go.
Furthermore, if you work or freelance for an organization, and you feel overworked, spread-thin, under-appreciated or underpaid — leave. Time to spice up the resumé, and start the job search again.
Chances are, someone is willing to worship you for your time and your talents.