To be frank, living in the pursuit of personal excellence is not for everyone. Probably less than 1% in fact. If you're more concerned with being liked than you care about yourself and your vision, it's not for you.
If you think you might be part of the 1%, it is the skeleton key to life; It will unlock all the doors:
- Doing cool shit with cool people.
- creating deep meaningful relationships.
- Building a life with the love of your life.
- Surrounding yourself with people that make you better.
- Stepping into your personal power.
- Succeeding even when the odds are stacked against you.
- Gaining true knowledge of self.
- Create like a kid; without limitations
As amazing as all that sounds, trying to live at your personal standard of excellence has a steep cost; you have to give everything you have. The world is not yet crazy enough to make it easy for anyone to have it all; that's reserved only for those willing to do the work. Those of us willing to step in the ring and get worked day after day.
If you choose to continue, you will encounter roadblocks and setbacks of every kind every step of the way. You're unplugging from the Matrix; it's not going to be pleasant. The roadblocks could be big, external life-changing events, like a divorce, or a life-threatening accident. It could be missing a career opportunity or being laid off, more than once. It could be a colleague that's trying to hold you back. It could be friends and family projecting their insecurities on you, uncomfortable with your dramatic, noticeable change. But the biggest roadblock you will face again and again is yourself.
Going after exactly what you want requires an extremely high degree of mental toughness. You must persist through failure, heartache, disappointment, uncertainty, and the relentless grind. You must develop resilience in your mindset. If you can't, you'll stay in hell.
You have to recognize that there are things you have been conditioned to believe that no longer serve you; there are subconscious stories you tell yourself, maybe since childhood, that are holding you back from what you want. To get what you want you have to change the narrative, but that requires understanding your conditioning.
Unpacking your conditioning requires you to do deep internal work to understand yourself at a fundamental level; every part of what makes you, you, the good and the bad. You must understand how you relate to yourself and how that affects your relationship to others.
You must confront things that you don't dare to show or tell anyone about; The things you feel guilty or ashamed of.
You must become best friends with your inner demons, because when you're striving for the best possible version of yourself, they will be the obstacle standing in your way.
You have to learn that you, and you alone, have the power to change your story. No one else can tell you how to get there.
I've experienced all of the examples I listed for roadblocks you might encounter and a lot more. Each one was its own special version of hell, but the worst hell I've endured was my own mindset.
Around 2017, I became obsessed with understanding the brain, with a keen focus on relational psychology and cognitive science. I wanted to learn everything I could to change my mind and life. I've been on that marathon ever since.
I continue to study and self-practice modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy, Polyvagal Theory, and Attachment Theory.
I chose to pursue art as a career at a point in life most people would say is too late. A solid year into my MSU degree program in traditional film and photography, I dropped out. I just couldn't see a future that lit me on fire.
Two years later, enrolled as a Game Design Major at a tiny tech school in Arizona. In that time I stumbled into the world of concept art for the entertainment industry, which introduced me to academic realist art.
I saw a charcoal figure drawing and was floored; I had to learn to do that no matter what. So I dropped out for the second time, this time to pursue a career as an artist.
I trained for 5 years in the classical Atelier method grounded in late 19th-century French Academic Art. In the years following my training, I became an award winning Contemporary Representational Fine Artist with work in galleries and private collections across the country.
Along the path toward the goal of creating a sustainable art career, I fell into digital & print design before diving 110% into User Experience (UX) design.
After spending a few years as a digital & print designer while moonlighting as a fine artist, I rapidly transitioned into UX in late 2018.
I was brand-spanking-new to UX, but I was hungry and driven to learn. I wanted to reach the same levels in my UX career that I did in Art. Struggling with anxiety and imposter syndrome going into a new, exciting, expansive field is mentally crippling; I felt I was starting from the bottom with so much to learn. but I was humble and hungry for knowledge, whatever source it may come from. It wasn’t long until I realized my expertise in traditional skills prepared me to be a better designer than most.
From there, I was laser focused on what mattered; deeply understanding the customer, business goals, and delivering results. I cut my teeth in all things product, design, and code. While working for some of the fastest growing startups in the country, I’ve been able to grow at the same pace because of my dedication to excellence and a growth mindset.
UX was a major catalyst in my transformational growth over the years and became a dominant part of my life. My passion for design stretches far beyond UX and SaaS products, with an affinity for physical products and interior design.
Currently living at the intersection of product, design, and marketing, I focus on product growth, vision shaping, systems architecture, and cross-functional leadership.