Seth Godin published a recent post that said this, in part:

There are plenty of people who will pander, race to the bottom, and figure out how to, “give the public what it wants.” But that doesn’t have to be you. Professionals have standards. Professionals push back.

Seth has a point. But it’s easier said than made. And it only obliquely alludes to the necessary fight and the unceasing vigilance and determination required to have standards, to maintain them, and to push back. But every standard to which a professional adheres — every point at which a professional pushes back — is a fight. (This point pertains to the rest of us regular human beings, too.) The fight to be mindful of and to retain one’s integrity is is never ending. More important, every fight has a price. And the price gets steeper, especially the emotional price, the less well we know ourselves.

Do I mean professionals are (or should be) intractable? No. Do I mean professionals should never compromise? No. Do I mean professionals should lack humility and open-mindedness? No. I mean professionals should believe in themselves. And we regular human beings should do the same. We should be prepared to defend our work with a complete rationale, respectfully presented. And we should be prepared for the possibility we’ll be vilified for it. It’s the way of the world.

Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence and fulfills the duty to express the results of his thought in clear form. (Albert Einstein, in a letter to Dr. M.I. Cohen, March 19, 1940)

For everyone with an imaginative or creative bent, the choices are the same. And they’re simple: Do it. Or don’t do it. Given the fact that risk is constant — whether that risk be personal, professional, financial, political, philosophical, or otherwise — you’re effectively damned if you do (criticism or failure) and damned if you don’t (no reward). Under those circumstances, you might as well do it. You’re going to pay the price anyway. It’s always about the fight.

And remember this: No matter what the fight looks like on any given day, it’s always the same fight — to find ourselves and to believe in what we find.

Image by AnabelBugarin, courtesy of