I got that advice from Chris Wall, who died yesterday at the tragically young age of 61.
About 20 of us had created and produced a campaign for a major client that was the picture of efficiency and integration.
In fact, the worked sucked. It was the worst campaign we had ever produced for this particular client. However we were blinded by its internal success and by how much the client liked it.
Chris called a bunch of us responsible for the creative. He didn't yell or dress us down. He simply said one thing--the aforementioned best guidance I've ever received.
He said: "I'm not pissed that the work sucks. I'm pissed that our level of ambition has started to drop."
As a creative director, you can worry about details--is it the right color yellow? Is the copy "flowy" enough? etc.
Or you can do the real job.
Make sure your people are striving to be great.
That's what Chris made me think about.
For that, I am forever thankful.