Parachuting Through The Ceiling

Why parachute through the ceiling when you can walk through the door?

So asked one of the lesser Mad Men of Peggy Olson when she kept coming back to rework a creative concept after he—her boss—had approved an earlier version.

But she wouldn’t—or couldn’t—quit, even after her fellow copywriters told her to can it.

Waste of time—or pathway to genius?

I vote for both. If you’re always going through ceiling plaster instead of an open doorway, chances are you prefer it that way. Or you’re in the wrong situation and need to get the hell outta there.

To create game-changing work, you’re gonna have to pull on some rip chords.

Peggy Olson was feeling alone and beleaguered—it’s no coincidence that she was sobbing on her knees in the wee hours by the end of that episode.

Producing consistently great work requires us to dig deep—it ain’t always pretty. It’s a process. And it’s not linear. You can have your break-through idea in the shower after a sleepless night or three weeks later when you’d about given up.

Then there are the challenges that come from your own team. The same partners that collaborate with you on the big winners can just as easily stall you if they want to settle on almost-good-enough.

And of course there are the clients. Your perfectly elegant solution may just not sit quite right with them. Doesn’t matter if it’s a head-turning slogan or the right investment mix—clients don’t always grab onto what WE believe to be the best option.

Do you just go through the door—or strap on the parachute?

Answer: you decide fresh. Every. Single. Time.

Because there are ideas and bosses and clients (and—ahem—you) who deserve no less than brilliance. And there are others that just aren’t cut out for what it takes to get there.

Which will it be?

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Original artwork by Dorothy Cross, “parachute 2005”


  • Interesting and thought provoking discussion you bring up. I agree the decision has to be made on an individual situational basis. Many times we know we are on the right path even though our associates tell us otherwise. Those are the times we have to prove ourselves to be right or wrong. It can be either. But only we as individuals can walk through the process to determine the decision. Even if we are wrong; we have gained a lot of experience and savvy by working through what we thought to be the road to travel. We have made ourselves better and stronger by our efforts.

  • Thanks Ed–appreciate your thoughts!

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