To be hungry means you are growing. Whatever is not growing is dead. The question that has stood out to me in the past couple of years has been the question of potential. This question comes to me often during moments of quietness, in times where I am working out, in the mornings as I awake & at night before I lay down to rest. The rhetorical question is simple & persistent: “Is there more in you?“
A recent experience on Facebook group gives fuel to the words that follow in this post. Not long ago, I put out a post to a local Facebook community group expecting to get a response and recommendation for a tax person. I did, immediately get several responses with beaming recommendations for each respondent’s particular tax person. I asked a further question of those who replied and attempted to collect the websites of each of those respondent’s tax person (in order to collect more data on the businesses of those recommended). I got fewer replies. One person rather obnoxiously replied, “My tax person doesn’t need new business & they don’t need to promote their business with a website.” Really?? Even though this was shocking to me it seemed that a few others praised that attitude. To which I replied that it was their tax person’s loss. To be fair, their tax person was not present to defend themselves. However, the attitude of the customer who represented their particular tax person was very off putting.
Transition from this experience to the experience of a “Starving Artist”. The experience of the starving artist comes from a place of desperation to get work, so much so that the artist willingly subjects him or herself to working agreements that are often demeaning and undercutting of the true value they offer. To get over this undercutting of prices designers and developers are taught to take on the same attitude as represented by the customers of the aforementioned tax accountants . Admittedly, I have done this before and have turned down projects outright that I felt undercut the value of what I offered I am as a designer / developer. It seemed right at the time and helped me to begin to value my own work and skills as a creative. However, in my shortsightedness I have also now looked back and realized that, had I known better & had I begun the conversation with the person and negotiated with them. The key would have been to actually negotiate on the “scope” of what was needed and not the price. I would have built those relationships, avoided burning those bridges and been all the richer for that decision.
The problem I am seeking to point out however, is not in price of services nor negotiating scope of projects but of being hungry. Whether correctly or incorrectly I have personally turned down projects in the past that I could have built upon and begun to develop relationships through. I am not saying that one should never say no but I am making the observation that the word no should be a rare occasion to someone who is seeking to grow. One other alternative to saying no would include passing the project off & charging a small finder’s fee.
Pricing and scope has been one aspect that caused me turning down projects in the past, one other aspect has been capacity. While I operated in the sole capacity of a freelancer I limited the amount of work I could handle. Recently, I have implemented changes that increase capacity. There is always a way to make a project work, for the hungry, an increase in capacity to take on work will lend itself to the ability for you to have more on your plate at once and help more people simultaneously. How is this possible? Only by building a team… building a team requires more from you in means of personal growth through management, delegation, quality control and becoming a person whom others depend on to some degree for the livelihood of themselves and their families. All of this means more RESPONSIBILITY. This is good.
In the famous words of the late Whole Earth Catalogue, made even more famous by Steve Jobs, “Stay hungry, Stay Foolish.”