One of the hottest debates on my Twitter timeline this week had to do with rapper Kendrick Lamar's new album, good kid, m.A.A.d city. Among all the breakdowns of lyrical content and production quality, the biggest controversy came once fans started throwing the word "classic" around. Is Kendrick's album a classic? Is it too early to tell? Whatever your stance, this discussion made me think about today's society and our perceptions of success.
We currently live in a quick fix, instant reply, microwave-fast society. Things that are fast and easy are preferred, and this has affected everything from how we communicate to how we manoeuvre our way up the ladder of success. Looking at the corporate side of things, my generation of workers differs greatly from that of our parents'. Where they settled into a career and often stayed at the same company until retirement, my peers have more loyalty to their own path than they do to a specific company. Whether either practice is right or wrong doesn't matter - times, opportunities, and goals are different, and that breeds new practices.
When I was younger, I realized quite clearly that some members of my family have a "get rich quick" mentality. When they weren't making frequent jumps from one job to the next (for promised increases in salary that may or may not have actually appeared), they were utilizing their entrepreneurial spirit to create the next big thing. They were long on goals and dreams, but short on perseverance, practicality, and purpose - which reminds me of many people I come across today.
People have taken the phrase "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have," and have turned it on its head to create a mirage of success and accomplishment. Taking a look in LinkedIn, everyone is an "expert" or a "visionary". On Twitter, usernames are "@THEsuchandsuch", bios include exorbitant claims, and profiles even have fake verified checkmarks. Sometimes, these accoutrements are warranted - but more often, they are not. Masters, experts, mavens, etc., are truly created when they've honed their craft and have found the right blend of goals, dreams, perseverance, practicality, and purpose. In our pursuits to carve out new paths to success, it seems that some of us have forgotten that - and it's painfully obvious.
Taking shortcuts to success is why fans can entertain the thought of calling a new artist's debut album a "classic" within its first week of release. If we're so quick to bestow those statuses on ourselves, it's not hard to imagine that we would do the same for others as well. The process of success - the act of inputting time and effort, of making mistakes and learning from mistakes, and the associated peaks and valleys - simply isn't as attractive when compared to the satisfaction of making it. However, once you've made it - you need something to keep you there. I liken it to nuking a bowl of ramen noodles in the microwave compared to letting a hearty stew simmer on the stove. Sure, the ramen will be quick and might just hit the spot, but the stew will be so much more filling if you just wait until it's ready. If ramen affects you like it does me, it'll have you on the toilet within half an hour of ingesting...whereas the stew will give you the strength and energy to keep going.
All this to say that shortcuts, fast-tracking, and premature crownings of titles may do more harm than good. If you're a master after your first project, where do you go from there? If Kendrick's debut is a classic, does that leave room for growth and experimentation in the face of fans who expect greatness...5 minutes ago? I don't want my arrival to the land of milk and honey to take an eternity, but I definitely don't want it to happen tomorrow and fade by next month. Let's all recommit to striving towards excellence, to creating a body of work, and to having a story of how "all the hard work paid off."
What do you think? Are we working for longevity, or seeking out instant gratification? Does it help or hurt to reach for titles and accolades before we've technically earned them?