freelance series

On Work - Personal vs. Professional

Look, it's important to remember that as a person who is also a brand we should be somewhat self-aware. Maybe it's part of being an adult, but without a filter on our words we would be in trouble more often than not. To put it another way, we don't always have to share everything we're thinking. But that's the problem now with the likes of Twitter and Facebook always at a fingers length beckoning us to share every little thought that pops in our head. It's overrated.

But it's more than just what we say, or don't say, online. It's how we learn to separate our personal feelings from our professional behavior. Some of the hardest lessons I've had to learn have been in a meeting with a client who either a. doesn't like anything I've created, or worse, b. keeps changing their mind over and over again. That is bound to wear on anyone's patience. But, as professionals, we are held to a higher standard when we sit down with our clients. It's about them, not us. We are here for them.

However, some might argue that our profession is not one of service. I'm not totally convinced either way. I feel like it's a mix of both. In a service industry one is paid to perform a duty to the customers request. They live and die by the creed, "The Customer is Always Right." But, for us, the visual design is merely an outward expression of a deeper purpose taking place. As professionals, we are hired not only for our aesthetics and execution, but also for our experience and ability to educate our clients. So while we may not always agree that our clients are always right, we don't need to rub their faces in it.

Then how do we hold true to who we are in our profession? I think it' an easy answer, just be yourself. Well, I guess it's easier said than done. But I think it's similar to dating, the quicker you stop trying to impress someone and just be yourself the quicker you will know if the other person sitting across the table is a good match. And so it is with a client, not every client is a good fit. But if we are too busy acting like someone we're not, then we might not like where we find ourselves after we land the job. So I'll say it again, just be yourself. Some may like it, and some may not, but at the end of the day you know who you are.

On Work - Comparing vs. Celebrating

If you were to really boil down your desire to work hard, what would you find? An honest passion burning underneath the surface, or a burning jealousy of other peoples successes and the constant comparison of yourself to them?

How should we ever expect to succeed if we are only measuring ourselves by ourselves? After all, we are only human. Even if for 15 minutes one of us seems to be greater than all the rest. Don't be fooled by fame. A labor in love will continue on with or without the recognition from its peers.

But times have changed. Now we live in a world of celebrity magazines and selfies, where comparison is a normal way of life. When we look in the mirror, we don't see ourselves, but we see every little thing we don't like about ourselves. The same goes for our work. When we create something we don't hold it up to our own standards, but rather we compare it to the work of our peers. This isn't just harmful to those starting out, but it can suffocate the life right out of even the most well respected.

Stop looking everywhere else for inspiration. In fact, stop looking to be inspired so much. Have some alone time and get to know yourself. Likes. Dislikes. Sit down and create work that comes from deep inside. Just sit down and work. In doing so, my own heart began to change from a place of comparison to really celebrating the work and success of others. And I'm convinced this is a much better place to live, and work, from.

Freelance Series - An Introduction

When I first started working for myself two years ago I started a weekly blog post series. It was helpful for me to sit down and reflect on the week behind me. I would find myself learning things I never expected about working for myself. And I tried to keep it on a very personal, down-to-earth, level. I wanted, more or less, to let people in on what the journey was really like switching from a 9-5 job to total freelance.

As the series continued throughout the year I was so pleased to hear from others how it helped encourage them in their own professional journey. It helped me to keep writing and sharing my experiences. The weekly updates would ebb and flow right along with the work I was doing. Some weeks would be really intensive in one area, and other weeks would be really short and to the point. But the length of these updates was never the point, only that I would sit and write.

Then I lost my motivation. The engine ran out of steam. Only now, looking back on it, I see it as a great disservice to myself and my readers for not finishing what I started. It's an all too common pattern in my life that I want to change. And that's what this introduction is all about I guess. An attempt to redeem myself, and breath some new life into some of my old writings. But first, I need to tell you what got me excited to write again.

Earlier this year I had the chance to sit down with the one and only Shawn Blanc while he was in town visiting. I had only met Shawn once before, at Circles Conference 2012, but we had kept up with each other via twitter and our blogs. Anyways, through our conversation I came to find out that Shawn had recently released a book (okay, an eBook to be exact) based on a blog series he had written. Check it out here: Delight is in the Details. But not only that, hearing how Shawn makes his living from writing his blog and doing a daily podcast was super inspiring 1. because of his determination and 2. because he is a loving father and husband on top of all that. I drove home that day feeling more inspired to write again than I had in over a year.

Going back through the archives and pulling down all my weeks of writing was refreshing, and often times humbling. It reminded me of looking through old sketchbooks. But it was healthy for me to re-read all my old updates and see how much I had grown. And then I started to notice a pattern forming. In the later posts I started to group my writings into three categories; On Work, On Life and on Faith. I remember the decision to write about each topic on its own, but enjoyed how much they each overlapped one another. This got me thinking about how I could revisit the same writing but with a much more focused approach.

That bring us to today and the beginning of something new. Every Friday my goal is to publish a post on one of the three main topics: Work, Faith and Life. Each post will explore one area specifically related to the main topic. For example, I've already begun writing about "personal vs. professional" and "comparing vs. celebrating" on work. This kind of focus is what I hope to bring to the table every week this year. My hope is that it would encourage us all to dig a little deeper into our lives.

Thanks for listening.