The Five Things That Go Right

by seansblog-admin on September 19, 2017

So we are now on the cusp of everyone being back in full swing post-Labor Day. Busyness awaits. The question is, how are you going to take everything you might have been working on — process, pricing, storytelling, client management, cross-industry work – and put it into practice? And after you use the tools, how will you evaluate your efforts?

The first is a subject I have covered quite a lot on the blog – metrics of success. I would submit to you that a successful project looks different now than from what it might have in the past. Or at least I hope so. That is what evolution as a creative business is all about.  Less about pulling it off and more about a terrific journey.  If you have really been invested in your creative business and its growth, today’s metric of success should be about how and why you did what you did and having that (ongoing) effort being supported by your clients, employees and colleagues. Supported much more than a beautiful result.

However, this is more than a personal endeavor. This is like a design statement being necessary for all creative businesses, especially Event and Interior creative businesses. [And if you do not understand why a design statement is the future of your creative business, but can appreciate its power, you really need to join The BBC Collective — Events or The BBC Collective — Interiors and be part of the change you seek.  No matter how busy you are, there is always an hour or so a week to step back and really work on instead of in your creative business].

All creative businesses need to constantly work on redefining/refining what clients, employees and colleagues should expect (and evaluate) our creative businesses on. And we want to spread the word so that the industry comes to be defined by fingerprints instead of fashion, relationship instead of branding, story instead of blind faith, integrity instead of fluff.

But but but you are all about to be busy, meaning in it, making it happen. So the strategy cannot be to institute all of these overarching changes and industry revolutions when you are in the moment. Instead, it is to make sure that you are noting the effects your new new is having on your creative business. When the time for playing the game is afoot, you play, you do not think about the fifteen things you were working on in practice. When you do play though, do not ignore the work that has come before. The easiest way to make sure this does not happen: write down the five things that went right. You can do this in the middle of producing the project, immediately after, or, best yet, as often as you can for the month leading up to the finish of the project.

Here’s the thing: you are not fixing anything, you are remaking what makes you remarkable in the first place. If you are focused on your strengths, they will become stronger.

Nobody leads with their weaknesses. Ever. We lead with what makes us great, what we are confident in, what makes us feel alive first. Why should you evaluate your creative business in the context of what went wrong on the promise that you will fix it in the future? Fine, do that, just get stronger at your strengths first. A positive sandwich as my kids would say.

When you are there and actually doing the work to write it down in the moment, you will have it forever. Not that anything will go off if you do not write down the five things that went right, it is just that they inevitably slip from memory, opportunity to build on them lost forever. The reason: most often, what went right is an intangible – the way an employee talked to the client, offering reassurance; the calm demeanor of staff; the clear communication delivered as you, the artist, would have it delivered; pacing of the work. Yet, the intangible, the ephemeral, the effort underneath the surface, is what defines you, your art and your creative business. The very thing we have been working to build on. Make no mistake, you get paid (or you will) for what lies underneath for the very reason that it is yours and yours alone.

A little safety tip: be real – no, Janey the florist did such a great job, I just love her. More, Janey showed up on time looking professional, her staff was always respectful and responsible and were flexible when some last minute minor changes had to happen. The former are platitudes, the latter the foundation of future expectations.

And, of course, figure out who should be noting what went right. If you want it to matter, it cannot be just you. Different eyes see with different lenses.

The point of the exercise is not just to collect platitudes, it is to weave what you see as your strengths more indelibly into the fabric of your creative business. You WILL do better by being better at what you are already great at first.  Leave shoring up weaknesses for another day.

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