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Roosa Säävälä, March 20, 2018

Escape elephant graveyard

Earlier in March, 2½ lionhearted teams from Evermade participated in the Young Lions Finland -challenge. YLF 2018 presented Samuli, Juha, Krista, Sauli and me the opportunity to run after the zebras. Each of us worked 12-24 hours over the weekend, shaping ideas that would solve the assignment (tackling fake information).

It was a lot of fun. But when you’re fully engaged pursuing the striped horse, you may end up tracking down a dead elephant, instead. And so, you have found what is probably the biggest challenge on your way to reaching your creative conclusion. This happened to us, too.

Escaping the elephant graveyard

In case you didn’t know, YLF calls creatives under 30 years to submit their solution to a client’s brief in teams of two. The timeframe is 48 hours. There are four categories, and the eventual winners will be sent to Cannes to compete for the international Young Lions awards.

What is this place?

There always comes the inevitable phase in a creative process, when you just feel like everything is shit. If you work in a creative industry or position, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It can be triggered by a question that could have been left unasked. Or it can result from hearing outside opinions that point out an alternative approach you for some reason left unconsidered.

Anyway, it usually reveals a previously undetected loophole in your creative solution, and this has the power to make all of your work (and you) collapse like a landslide. It can leave you endlessly tweaking one sentence or a single word, or finessing an example image. None of that is likely to determine whether the end result will suck or shine. In the worst case, you could just lose all hope doing this.

The phase of doubt can be a passing moment or an endless skid. Whatever it is, it will come. And when it does, the only way to escape is to roar louder than the hyenas gathering around you.

Roar like you mean it

The hyenas can be a tricky bunch, but surely not something a hungry lion can’t handle. Still, it takes determination to rise from the miserable depths of self-doubt. Determination, and guts to push forward, accepting the flaws and focusing on what you’ve succeeded in.

You can’t get hung up on single words and details, whether they’re in the brief or in your solution. Also, accept that a creative concept rarely solves everything at once, but is rather a well reasoned outline of your main idea. Just take 5 to empty your head and, with the support of your partner or pack, get your focus back on the striped horse.

Hakuna Matata

So, you showed your fangs like a lion should, and left behind the discouraging hyenas in your head, to find your way back to the sun-bathed parts of the savannah. You shifted your focus from what’s possibly missing from your work, to what’s actually pretty awesome about it.

Now finish the job and reward yourself and your team for the hard work, even if the jury doesn’t. You did something you wanted to, and you learned on the way. Catching the zebra isn’t everything.