You’re Not Generic, So Why Act That Way?

These Words Hit Home for Chloe, She Knew They Were True. What She Didn’t Know Was What to Do About Them

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

Has someone ever said something to you, which you knew to be true; something you wanted to change, but you didn’t know how; or something was holding you back, maybe you didn’t have the courage to do what you wanted, and needed to do.

You’re Not Generic, So Why Act That Way? Is part of a series of people’s stories of when they received feedback that cut to the chase. Feedback that in their heart of hearts they knew to be true, but yet they stopped short from making the changes needed.

You’re Not Generic, So Why Act That Way?

These words hit home for Chloe, she knew they were true. What she didn’t know was what to do about them.

But let’s back up a little to Chloe’s Story: You’re Not Generic, So Why Act That Way? Case Study:

Chloe was a Graphic Designer. Her intuitive ability to come up with ideas and her passion for excellence led her to become an influential and sought after designer. But somewhere along the way, something changed, but she didn’t know what, and without knowing the what, she was struggling to know what to do.

So, when her boss Ava said to her: You’re Not Generic, So Why Act That Way? These words hit home for Chloe. She knew they were true. What she didn’t know was what to do about them.

Sage Wisdom

Chloe met with Harry, a longtime friend and mentor, who always had a wise way of looking at and seeing things. He immediately asked Chloe the question she had been struggling with: “What’s changed?” Chloe still couldn’t answer. As much as she knew something had changed, she still couldn’t pinpoint what it was, or when it happened.

Harry suggested this was the question she needed to reflect upon. This was the question that would allow her to give herself the self-feedback she needed to be able to know what to do. He went on to suggest a book that might give her the clarity and insight she needed to be able to answer this question.

Book Wisdom

The book was: How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer by Debbie Millman

“In the book Millman has gathered astonishingly frank revelations from acclaimed designers. Anyone who struggles daily to create great work will be inspired and encouraged by these intimate glimpses into remarkable minds.” This praise for the book from Joyce Rutter Kaye (Editor-in-chief, Print magazine) spoke to Chloe, as did the stories in the book.

Vaughan Oliver in particular gave voice and words to what Chloe was feeling: “I would like to get back my love for graphic design, because I think I’ve lost it.” His story resonated with Chloe. He spoke about how he can get stuck in his mind, and how when that happens his anxiety increases, how his self-doubt creeps in. In answer to Millman’s question: “Do you have a lot of feelings of self-doubt?” He answered: “Oh, don’t we always, us creative people? Sometimes you’re on top of the world, and other days you feel worthless and wonder what you’ve done and what you’re doing.”

His response to Millman’s question of what he does when that happens, to crawl out, also resonated with Chloe. He said: “Quite simply, I go for a walk.”

Millman asked if he thought that self-doubt helps the creative process in some way. He said not his, and that in times past when he had deadlines every day, when he was doing a lot of work and there was a lot of activity around him, and the deadlines were relentless, the creativity was also relentless. There was no time for self-doubt.

He went on to talk about the change in the industry — both technological and cultural changes that have caused disempowerment, and it’s the disempowerment that fuels self-doubt. He said there’s lack of rebelliousness and surprise in the industry right now; and went on to say he no longer has the satisfaction at the end of the day, of a day’s work well done.

Everything he said resonated with Chloe. She had found her answer to the question: What’s Changed? It was an answer that went deeper and wider than she had realised, and it was painful. But she knew it was what she needed to be able to move on. She didn’t know if she would be able to get her love for graphic design back, at least not with how things currently stood within her industry, but what she did know, was what she needed to seek out in order to try to get that love back, and for now this was enough.


While Chloe has yet to get her love of graphic design back, she has gotten away from being generic. She’s done that by bringing her point of view to the work. Her point of view was always what was unique and distinct about her, but the self-doubt that had crept in had somehow caused her to shift away from who she was. She figured she had nothing to lose in speaking her mind, and she hopes this will also help in getting her love of graphic design back.

Words of Wisdom

“To me, success is not about money, it’s about what I design. If I get up every day with the optimism that I have the capacity for growth, then that’s success for me”. Paula Scher

Today’s featured book is: How To Think Like A Graphic Designer by Debbie Millman

WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:

The intention of the stories I share is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories, you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles, failures and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.

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