As a person who has been supporting himself solely on design work for about three years now, I feel like I have learned countless lessons in such a short time. Among those lessons are things like handling customer relations, effective project management, overseeing business growth, learning self discipline and the evolution of my core trade skills. As we all know, a small business owner can and must wear a lot of hats.
I have discovered that there is one key element that resonates in all of these different areas - how you choose to handle challenges can drastically alter the outcome. Attitude can set the stage for success or failure. How you choose to look at situations will effect how you then react to and solve them. I feel like I am lucky in that I have a naturally patient and optimistic disposition. While this can work against me in certain circumstances, it is usually a huge benefit, and it always allows me to maintain my sanity. With that sanity I am able to hold a clear and positive view of the future, even when the eventual outcome in a specific situation seems pretty dismal.
I am not saying that I am perfect. I drop the ball just as much, if not more, than the next person. Finding a balance between work and life is a constant battle for me too. But, it's all about handling the negatives as they arise. For me, it's about acknowledging a mistake, understanding how to avoid it in the future and moving on. The faster I can do all of this, the better. This is also not to say run away from a problem, but rather diagnose, plan and push forward. Letting negativity grow within you will kill you as a creative source. We are at our strongest when we have a sense of freedom, so the faster you can get back to a free and clear state-of-mind, the better and more productive you will be.
“The power of a positive attitude can be felt by everyone around you.”
As designers we live for the idea of creativity without boundaries. Make sure not to create artificial boundaries for yourself through negativity. By choosing to not release negative barriers in a reasonable time frame, you are creating mental road blocks for yourself. Only when you can move past the negative energy will you be able to reach a more satisfying creative reality.
Bad days will happen. A client rejects the design you so eloquently delivered, you get overwhelmed by the amount of talent around and question your own, you start doubting yourself for lack of creative output on a new project. We all have those days. You just need to understand when it is happening and take control of it. Whether it be a quick break, a drink or a day off find your release. However you do it, you need to recognize it and take action.
The worst thing for me is when negativity begins to take me over and starts to kill my "Mojo". This is a word we use frequently in the office and now is a metric by which we can measure how we view the level of our glass. We understand that Mojo must stay high for the overall wellness of both business and personal life. This small metric helps keep our reality in check. When you can start to understand that the sky is not falling and this is just a speed bump that can be overcome, you will start to control how you view your glass.
The power of a positive attitude can be felt by everyone around you. It can shape your working atmosphere, the way your clients view you and even how successful you can make your company. It's not about pretending, it's about being proactive. Deal with those problems before they deal with you.
How you choose to look at your glass determines how full (or empty) it really is.