Thursday, March 02, 2006

Breakfast of Champions

I'm opening my kimono here by being vulnerable ... and probably stating the banally obvious, but it wasn't obvious to me.

This morning I failed on a job - what I wrote wasn't what the client wanted, nowhere near. Worse still, they needed something asap so they got in another writer.

Of course, I felt stink. It's easy to take something like that to mean I am a failure personally, and can never succeed in my chosen profession.

In the past, I would be only fleetingly aware of this feeling, and try to 'press on regardless'. But I'm becoming a lot more aware of myself lately - maybe it's Marie's psychology studies, maybe it's just maturity with age - and I changed my own rules.

First of all, I kept open the channels of communication to my client. Through that, I realised they didn't blame me for missing the mark on this job, and were still prepared to work with me in future.

Secondly, I asked to see the eventual piece of copy that worked. This will help me know what their needs are for that client if I can help them in the future.

Just following those two steps helped me feel immeasurably better about myself, and my chances of living long and prospering.

To follow up, I sent a request for feedback to another client for whom I'd just finished a job yesterday. Sometimes in solo/freelance professions helpful feedback is nonexistent or only extreme ("I loved it", or "we can't use this"), so it helps to get something more consistent. And to do that, you've got to ask for it.

In The One Minute Sales Person, it says "Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions". I'm going to make sure I have breakfast every day.


At 7:45 PM, Blogger M@ said...

Attitude is so important in these things. It's what makes the difference between "he's an incompetent boob, and I don't want to have to deal with him again" and "well, that wasn't quite what we wanted, but he'll probably be able to deal with this next thing better".

I went through a similar experience about a year ago. When I realised that what I turned in wasn't what they were looking for, I worked to understand only one thing: what I needed to do to satisfy the editor's requirements.

I didn't ask for her to understand me or my piece. I didn't question her judgement. I focused on one thing, above all: getting the job done.

The article was published successfully. And now, a year later, they're calling me, asking about whether I can write for them again.

It's one of the toughest things we ever have to do: suck it up, accept that you're wrong, and deal with it positively and successfully. Do it, though, and you really stand out.

At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good on you for being focused enough to pro-actively seek feedback and brave enough to handle what comes back! Building relationships is about building trust and giving and receiving (constructive!) feedback is an intrinsic part of this. We often underestimate how powerful feedback can be. It's how we respond to it that really counts.


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