I thought her excitement was great! I was thrilled for her. From a distance her product had potential; she obviously had a passion for what she was doing albeit it was only a very short time she had been producing her wares. But the time frame didn’t matter, not to me anyway so I drew near for a closer look. “Hmmm” I thought as I picked up the products one at a time grasping for encouraging words and highlighting what I thought were the better points of the product.
Not wanting to give unsolicited advice I gingerly asked if I could offer a few suggestions on improving the product. The “of course” was quick but not very sincere (I should have picked up from there). Every suggestion was quickly rebutted with an excuse or a reason but never an acknowledgement of the possibility that there was room for improvement.
In my final effort to help where I was obviously treading on sacred ground, I suggested a class (not my own) that would assist in developing the product. The answer was quick and to the point. “I don’t need it…I know what I’m doing.” I took a step back, as though to tell myself “back off, baby, you stepped into an ant nest”. As I smiled and walked away I remembered what I heard my Dad say on many occasions…“Free and unsolicited advice is very rarely appreciated.”
It didn’t take long for my lightening fast mind to jolt back on course. The challenge the lovely newbie was facing was not technical in nature but more like unteachable in attitude. No, I don’t claim to be a psychologist but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure one plus one equals eleven (just kidding y’all). Any other word spoken whether my own or another instructor’s would be wasted breath.
So let me ask you. How serious are you about taking your product to the next level? Are you riding blindfolded on an egotistical ride? Or are you willing to see your product for what it is and be willing set aside your pride and tender feelings in order to develop your product?
When I started out on my painting journey I was offered some really harsh and unkind criticism by a merchant. I had to decide whether I was going to be offended and quit or separate the facts from her unkindness and move on. I decided I would eat the meat and spit out the bones. I took what she said, cut away the attitude and got busy learning how to do what I needed to do to get my product off the ground.
So as designers we do have a choice. We can invest in ourselves and in developing our product to ensure a successful future or we can produce mediocre designs and sell them to our unsuspecting family members or the artistically impaired.