"...fail fast and fail often because in order to define your ideology and your perspective you have to try different narratives that fit who you are, and you only do that through experimentation and you do that through failure."
Who are you? Who is Jason Mayden?
Who is Jason Mayden. I would say Jason Mayden is not a person who forgets what’s important in life. Jason Mayden is not a person who waits until he gets to the top to help people. Jason Mayden is not a person who misunderstands the importance of servant leadership. Jason Mayden is not a person who forgets that all his blessings flow from God and that my intended purpose in life is to serve others and to be a catalyst for positive energy and change. That’s who I would say I am.
What do you do?
On a daily basis, first and foremost I practice being a good father and a husband. That’s the most important thing that I try to do.
I work in the design industry as the Global Senior Design Director for Jordan Brand and I also manage the performance business for Jordan for basketball, so I have a hybrid role of business and design. I do a lot of connecting the dots in terms of opportunities and business drivers; but I also play the role of fullback, so I block and create holes and gaps and opportunities for other people to go and achieve success in their respective roles. And, more particularly, I sit with a lot of the younger people within my industry and help them figure out where they want to go and how they can use the gifts and tools that they have to get there.
For fulfillment or fun, I hang out with my wife and kids. Just sleeping on the floor and acting like I’m at a slumber party with my kids is the best thing in the world. Hang out, watch movies; anything that helps me create memories. We don’t spend a lot of money on a lot of “stuff”, but we do spend money on traveling and creating memories. So we love road trips, we love history, we love getting out and going places that are off the beaten path. We just enjoy each other. Like, my best friends are my wife and my two kids, so I spend all of my free time with them.
What is the ideology/purpose that drives you?
My purpose is to live a life of honesty and transparency, and hopefully bring a couple people to Christ through my example of just publicly showing my failures but privately celebrating my success. I try to just be a person who always asks how I can get better rather than patting myself on the back saying, “Congratulations for doing one thing great.” So my ideology is to always underpromise and overdeliver.
How did you arrive at that ideology?
A series of people and a series of events. Just through a lot of loss and pain and disappointment early on in my life, I realize that I have to appreciate everything and... that, you know, when people say life is a marathon and not a sprint, I disagree because by saying life is a marathon you assume that you know when the finish line is going to occur rather than saying live life to the fullest and go as fast and as far as you can go with the time you have.
You kind of allow yourself to take it easy and think tomorrow is coming [when thinking life is a marathon]. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed and I’ve seen that tremendously. I think when you do sprint through life and you do try to get around and see and do and feel and experience as much as you can in the little 24 hours you’re given it’s easy to follow the ideology of underpromising and overdelivering because if you just, for example, tell a person, “Oh yeah yeah yeah I’ll be at your birthday party” but not only do you show up to that birthday party but you go and you bring them a gift that they never thought they actually wanted or you bring people that they haven’t seen in a while or you make sure you go out of your way to have that night or that moment be something that’s extremely memorable for that person; it’s just going above and beyond the call of being a great friend and a great human being. I think that so many of us have settled for just showing up rather than showing up and being active, and so I just try to appreciate the little 24 hours that I’m given by being present and being active and keeping my promises to people. My grandmother passing away and never being able to tell her that I love her because I thought I was too busy and I would have tomorrow when I was a kid made me realize that you don’t have tomorrow, so do as much and say as much and be with as many people as you can today. That’s kind of where my ideology stems from.
What kind of advice can you offer someone who is searching for their ideology/purpose?
The kind of advice that I will offer to someone who is searching for their ideology and purpose is to anticipate disappointment and allow blessings to be unexpected. I think so many people anticipate a blessing and make no room for disappointment and it sets yourself up to be hurt tremendously along the journey. So I would say anticipate disappointment; embrace it and learn from it because that’s going to propel you forward to the moment when you will be blessed and you will appreciate it even more. And fail fast and fail often because in order to define your ideology and your perspective you have to try different narratives that fit who you are, and you only do that through experimentation and you do that through failure.
Failure is the greatest teacher, not success. You learn nothing by winning because you feel like it just happened because of your effort or because of your team or because of your circumstances, but from failure you’re forced to actually synthesize the process that led to failure. So I would say fail early and fail often, but embrace those moments as learning lessons and that’s going to help bring you to that moment of clarity where you say, “This is who I am. This is what I stand for and this is the legacy and the impact I want to leave on this planet.”
Because nobody woke up and said, “I’m gonna be great” and they just became great. But, unfortunately, the world we live in, as visible and transparent as we are, it still eliminates the process of struggle because people only see the YouTube/microwave culture of instant fame, instant gratification, but there is a series of very strategic failures that allows that person to appreciate and optimize their moment. Fail fast, fail often along your journey because that’s what’s going to make your success that much more meaningful, and which leads to the ideology piece.
Jason is a designer and artist from Chicago. Currently based in Beaverton, Oregon, Jason is the Senior Global Design Director for Jordan Brand, a division of Nike, Inc.
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