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Embracing Anti-Success: Low Expectations and 2024 Survival… A Think-Piece

This article written and published by Dan Schwartz, Business Development and Arts Liaison for Bright Bright Great. Contact Dan Schwartz here.

2024 in a Nutshell

Let’s face it, 2024 is weird. Disruption is the norm, and traditional operations are out the window. In my role at BBG, I pretty much meet every prospective client, as they are looking for some sort of brand or digital deliverable. And my conversations in 2024 have been like no other year.

I am fully aware budgets are tight, and marketing is often the first place that gets hit. But even with a complete willingness to work within tighter purse strings, I am seeing a hesitance towards pursuing ambitious goals and instead finding a preference for wanting lower-quality deliverables. Same price, worse work.

“Yeahhh… we don’t want anything that nice, just get something, anything, up on the website.”

These conversations raise such an interesting glimpse into contemporary business psyche, one which I don’t have any groundbreaking answers to— has the rollercoaster of 2023-2024 just simply adjusted our expectations? Are we too damn tired to be ambitious? Is success… risky?

Keeping the Bar Low

At first glance, this of course seems counterintuitive. After all, success is the ultimate goal of any business endeavor. But, we have all been on this journey where rapid change and uncertainty are constant companions. I am genuinely posing, and I would love to hear from you, that keeping the bar low seems to be a widespread reaction to 2024. Is anyone else talking about this?

I know, I know. This sounds like I am calling you out. I promise I am not trying to. I have a point, I swear!

Sad apologizing emoticon holding a sign with the text sorry

Fight or Flight

We have all heard of fight or flight in regard to stress or danger. But when we think of fight, we most often see ourselves with sword and shield, fighting off an attacking bear. What about the brand of fight that makes ourselves less desirable, like skunk-spray or those lizards that turn offputting colors- not staying invisible, while still maintaining control.

Of course this analogy is a bit ridiculous, but the more I think about, the more I can see the validity. The advantage of the “lower the bar” response is that we still retain control over the decision, we avoid venturing into the unknown, and we avoid the possibility of (another?) failure. It also gives us somewhere to improve later, when we are in a better place to tackle the above obstacles.

Success, and highest-quality work, demands accountability, responsibility, and the relentless pursuit of improvement—all of which can be too intimidating when comfort zones are critical.

We can’t stay here forever

But, we can’t stay here forever. Defense isn’t always the best offense, especially when thinking longterm. Now is also the perfect time to drop in all those generic platitudes we get bombarded with every day:

“Complacency is the enemy of progress.”

“Status quo stifles growth.”

“Undermine your own potential and risk being left behind.”

What is the point of this post?

Great question! I think I just want to put a name to what I am seeing out there and try to understand it from a humane perspective. Is anyone else seeing what I see? Any other insights?

Let’s chat!

Dan Schwartz