Enslaved Under the Lash of Client Approval
The last video I produced blew my total view record out of the water.
I was particularly pleased when I submitted the final edit for approval, but my hope was equally matched with the doubt and fear that all we creative freelancers know too well.
"What if they don't like it..."
This short thought riddles our existence. If the hammer comes down with a "...this is not exactly what we had in mind..." a fog of apathy rolls in and settles down. It can corrode our confidence, it can cause the cutting of corners, and completely kill our creativity if we're not careful.
All alliteration aside, it's a tough thing to hear however nicely put, but let's not forget, it is the burden we agreed to bear. We signed up for this career knowing full well we're thin skinned and suffering from creator's bias. But self-knowledge avails us nothing. It doesn't make the pain any less sharp or enable us to deal with rejection any better.
At least in the beginning.
Before we start solving this problem, let's look at the flip side:
"OMG! They f***ing love my sh*t! I'm the sh*t at this sh*t!!!
What a high. My creation has excited and influenced and has been met with widespread appeal. As I mentioned at the start, I'm coming at this post with my most recent experience being a mind-blowy super-success. And lord almighty does it feel good!
What's interesting to me is that I've chosen this occasion for the analysis of acceptance vs. rejection. It is typically during these emotional highs that I forget all the past pains. I see through the rose-colored-lens and I don't think about it again until the next rejection.
But here we are.
I won't assume but I'll chance that if you've read this far, and are planning on reading further that you, like myself, still suffer from at least some of what I've described. The big question that we all hope to answer is this:
"Are these manic highs and crippling lows the way creative life is supposed to be? Will it be this way forever? Say it ain't so!"
BUT! It requires a hefty load of self-searching and continued awareness to place ourselves in a position where our happiness and comfort isn't dictated by the praise and acceptance of others. I'm not just talking clients here either. This problem is prevalent in the personal lives of every single one of us. Perhaps the glare of our work dealings has kept us from noticing the personal leakage, but it is there all the same.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to overcoming rejection:
- Toughen Your Hide: Try and experience as much rejection as possible and you will no doubt place less and less of your wellbeing on each outcome as time progresses.
- Disassociate Action from Outcome: Focus your fulfillment on the process itself, the act of creating, rather than whether or not it is well received.
I propose a combination of the two.
As far as #1 goes, I've written plenty on the fruits that many rejections/failures bear. The is much to be said about the building of humility and the realization (upon rejection/failure) that "you are not made of glass". When I fail and the world doesn't end it becomes much easier to risk again, to love again, to create again.
And for #2, we pursued creative careers because we loved to create, not because needed acceptance. We love making so much that we put ourselves in harmful positions involving potential rejection. We believe so fiercely that we endure massive amounts of torture JUST SO WE CAN CONTINUE CREATING. So let us just be a smidge more aware why we're doing it. That alone can revolutionize our comfort and tolerance.
So, the solution combo cocktail:
Know there will be rejection. One each occurrence welcome it with open arms, and recognize your emotional durability. Know that you have control over only two things: your process and your outlook. You cannot control the outcome and the opinions of others, and investing in them is like placing your life savings on a coin toss. Remember why you do this, keeping this firmly in mind when nobody likes your product.
I'm not perfect at this myself, and this post is equally for me as much as it is for you. But I am absolutely convinced this is the answer. The answer not only to emotional durability and breaking the chains of this approval bondage, but to growth and success as well. I do my best work when I'm not burning up energy concerned with the outcome. It was in this way I approached the film that broke my record, and I am pleased with the results thus far.
I will continue experimenting.