The Luxury of Reflection: A Personal Journey of Learning and Transformation.
When I finally arrived at the idea I needed a graduate degree, I went to a local university with an idea for interdisciplinary research in creative behavior and said “I need to do this at the graduate level”. They agreed if I could find three professors at the university who would support my studies and research. So for the following three years I was mentored by faculty from the departments of psychology, philosophy and art as a part-time student. All the courses involved independent study and were customized and tailored to my specific research needs and interests. I learned critical analysis, research techniques, original and interdisciplinary strategies, and solid academic writing skills. The result was a significant breakthrough for me in developing a unified field model of creative behavior and which has informed much of my thinking and consulting for the following 30 years.
I cannot imagine a better non-traditional learning experience within a formal institution and that was over 30 years ago! It was rare for North America and I was lucky. But it’s a pattern that I believe should be more typical of 21st Century education today – highly mentored, customized and personal.
Rather than go into lot of unnecessary detail, what follows is a summary of thoughts and observations on learning and experience about future career preparation and development. No doubt many of these remarks may appear obvious but, based on reflective practice and personal experience, I hope they will stimulate or inspire you to look at your own skills set and see where opportunities for learning, growth and creativity can make a difference in your personal and career paths.
Breadth versus Depth
First, it’s important to find a balance between breadth and depth in knowledge and skills. Breadth is key in bringing to any field a broader range of connectedness with allied or even disparate concepts and is critical when developing interdisciplinary and creative solutions. Depth is essential for demonstrating your level mastery - your command of skills and expertise. Demonstrated proof of past and current levels of ability are the evaluative corner stone of the profession and that’s why your animation or vfx show reel is so important. Conventional thought says it takes 10,000 hours to reach true mastery of any professional skill set and from experience I think that may be a minimum.
Over and above level of mastery, passion demonstrates your commitment and desire to learn, to collaborate and to contribute in animation and related professional areas - both increasing defined by the quality of creative teamwork. Enthusiasm carries you forward; it keeps you sharp and it supercharges your learning, your cooperative mindset and your competitive spirit (btw, do read Ken Robinson’s “The Element” on finding your passionate direction).
Participation and Networking in the Community of Practice