I was internalizing a dialogue I had the other day after seeing a mistake someone made on how they presented their thoughts and the reaction it received, when I realized that what I was actually doing was telling myself what I wish I knew early on in my career. It encompassed some mistakes along the way, and some key points that I feel some people may benefit from reading.
You will not agree with every point, and don’t worry, you shouldn’t. At the very least, you’ll agree with and consider one of them. That is what is what I hope to achieve.
Without much banter, here’s a few things I wish I could tell my younger self when I started out in the industry.
#1. Be open minded enough to understand that just because you do not like it, it doesn’t mean it’s bad.
#2. Stop being offended and start bring proactive.
It’s really easy to say when something bothers you. Do something about it and use it as an opportunity to prove to yourself that your idea was in fact the better one. If it bothers you that much, do better and improve upon what’s already there in your own life instead. At best, think of it as a new-found business venture or free education!
Make a difference instead of making no difference.
#3. If you do not like something and they did not ask for your opinion, it’s probably best not to leave your thoughts.
If you do not know if they’re open to it, they probably don’t care and there’s a good chance they’ll also dislike you for it.
#4. Feel free to discuss politics and religion, also feel free in knowing you are alienating half your audience. If you have clients follow you, you’re harming your business.
#5. Trust your instinct.
It’s better to go on instinct rather than over-analyzing, whether it comes to color choices or editing selects… or your life.
#6. Be concise and direct in your communication.
People go through plenty of messages, no one wants a five paragraph essay when it can be compressed into a few lines. Know when to elaborate and know when it’s not necessary.
It’s an art, study those that have mastered it.
#7. Make sure the client’s name is spelled correctly.
Ask me how I know! My name is Pratik, if you can re-arrange those letters in your head, chances are I’ve been called it.
#8. Not everyone is going to like you and your work and they will go out of their way to let you know.
Keep saying it until it doesn’t bother you. Say it one more time. It will save you lots of heart-ache when the anonymous heartless folks take aim at you. It’s a past time for many.
#9. We’re all going through something awful in our lives, that alone should be reason enough to be kind to each other.
Why be the reason someone has a worse day than they’re already having?
Empathy over negative energy.
#10. “Because I like it,” is good enough validation for your personal work.
You don’t need to justify and explain your every action. Sometimes, intangible decisions based on emotion cannot be articulated into words.
#11. Be stern about your worth. If you can’t do a project at a certain rate, don’t be sorry about it.
They’ll try a million ways to haggle you, but focus on those who can afford your worth rather than mope about those that can’t. It’s a part of business that the best charge a certain rate and most people cannot afford them.
#12. You’ll never win against a closed-minded person. Don’t waste your sanity.
#13. Don’t bend your words to give in to what people want to hear.
No matter how many times they ask you the same question in different ways, or how forceful they are with your words, don’t change your meaning to make someone else happy.
Compromising what you actually meant to say will end up serving as a receipt for what you promised to do, even if you don’t want to do it. There’s no faster way to burn-out.
#14. Leadership comes with making lots of mistakes, and being crucified for them.
Know that it’s a part of the process and the fallout from these mistakes paves the path to your success.
The best places take the longest to get to, so start paving.
And quite topical, here’s a quote regarding leadership from a character on Game of Thrones that I recently watched, which he expressed right before a moment of life and death.
“Do you know what leadership means, Lord Snow? It means that the person in charge gets second guessed by every clever little twat with a mouth. But if he starts second guessing himself, that’s the end. For him, for the clever little twats, for everyone.”
— Ser Alliser to Jon Snow
About the author: Pratik Naik is a photographer, high-end retoucher, and instructor. He offers his professional services through Solstice Retouch and his training through Retouching Classes. You can find more of his work and writing through his blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. This article was also published here.