Occasionally I am posed with the question of what is my biggest annoyance or pet peeve as a photographer. As you can imagine there are the usual and expected responses which immediately surface to my brain such as low budgets mixed with high demands from clients. But in the grander scheme of things… those are not nearly that bad. On a whole, I feel very fortunate and blessed to be able to do what I do as a creative professional. I make a living doing something I am passionate about. What is bad about that? With any job, there are always going to be ups and downs, but not enough downs that I would consider what I do unsatisfying. And certainly not enough downs to create a rant-filled blog in which I complain about my good fortunes. I’ve unfortunately heard far too many of those.
However there is something that has increasingly become my biggest annoyance. The annoyance has nothing to do with clients, budgets or the levels of work one receives. It has nothing to do with flakiness, bad communication or negotiations gone awry. This is far more damaging… so be warned… I’m about to spew out some frustration!
My biggest annoyance as a professional is people who intentionally intervene on someone else’s progress in efforts to slow them down, deter them or stop them altogether.
Consider the following illustrations…
…A co-worker who decides to check in on your project right before it is due to the client and then demands changes which could end up blowing the client’s budget or deadline without actually suggesting anything that would improve the end result.
…A business person who decides their marketing plan is not to focus on enhancing their skills or adding value to their services they offer to clients… but to instead trash-talk their competitors in hopes to steal business that way.
…An entrepreneur who sees a fellow professional do something new, different or amazing and feel threatened by this. So they attempt to squander it as opposed to support it – simply out of fear and jealousy.
…A colleague (or even a friend) who does not see eye-to-eye with what your goals are and through diminishing enthusiasm, dissuades you from achieving them.
…A supervisor or boss who thinks you are striving for too much and tries to minimize the work efforts you do.
…A critic who criticizes your efforts (not constructively) just so they can feel they chimed in.
I’ve seen an unfortunate increased level of individuals who (whether it is out of fear, jealousy, anger, or just because they are not a great person) make the conscious decision to intentionally step in the way of someone else trying to do something amazing.
This simply, is not how successful business is done.
It is one thing if someone does not have the drive or passion to achieve their own level of success… but to spend your time and energy to get in the way of someone else’s progress is inexcusable.
So, what do you do if you feel someone has stepped in your way? And if you are out there trying to do something amazing or something different… someone at some point will.
1) Turn them
This is truly one of the best things you can achieve; turning a critic or an opponent into an evangelist. It involves open communication and finding common ground and shared interests. Think of how you begin to develop the relationships with your clients. The same could potentially be done with someone attempting to deter or slow you down. Is there any way you can bring them on board with your goals?
2) Respond professionally and politely
If these attempts to halt your progress are done in a public forum (perhaps on a blog, via social media, etc), you simply cannot ignore the conversation. Get involved; state your position in a very professional and very polite manner. Reinforce what you are doing and why you are doing it. Although you may not be able to turn the person who posted it, you can make sure anyone who reads it understands your position.
3) Treat them like you would a speed bump
If all else fails – treat them like you would a speed bump on an empty road. You of course proceed with caution… but you still proceed. You know the end destination that you are trying to get to. A speed bump is not really going to slow you down from getting there. Drive on.