In my quest to purge my life, I found my senior capstone project for the advertising degree I earned ten (!!!) years ago at the back of my sewing closet. (Yes, I had a sewing closet. It was a mess. More on that later.)
THAT was a huge lesson in failure. Of course, looking at it now, I can see why it was a giant fail. Ha! I can see now that it did, in fact, suck. But I can tell you that as group leader, I put my heart and soul into that project for the entire semester. We all worked incredibly hard. We were encouraged by our professor and told that in his opinion, we had it in the bag (I forgot to mention it was a competition). Our work was judged by a panel of professionals who worked at an ad agency in Las Vegas, where our mock client, the Luxor, was their ACTUAL client. I had so much fun brainstorming, creating, writing, editing, developing the media plan, conducting focus groups, and presenting this project with my group that I thought there was no way we could lose.
Well guess what. We were last.
I was high on life as a near-college graduate. My confidence balloon didn’t merely deflate; it popped. Loudly. But I learned a valuable lesson that day. You can work your tail off at something- not just anything, but something you love- and other people
Fortunately, we got an A on our project. A shiny, sparkly A like a cherry on top of my college diploma. In the end, it was the professor who loved our work, our ideas, and our finished product whose opinion mattered. He rewarded us with encouragement to keep going because he saw something in us. And that held a lot more weight than the mere opinion of a panel of judges who in the end had no power over our final grade.
I say all this to remind you (and myself) that oftentimes along the way, not everyone is going to be on board with what you are doing and where you are going- be it a project, an idea, your work, or your life. There will always be critics. While it isn’t always easy to accept criticism, be thankful for the times when someone is not only brave enough to say it to your face, but to do so with kindness- or even when it’s blunt truth meant to push you to be better, not tear you down. We have all participated in our fair share of behind-the-back trash talking, and I really think it’s time to put a stop to that. I’m guilty of it myself, but I want no more of it.
Nowadays, I’m learning to apply this lesson to potential clients who either get what I do and value it and those who don’t. Some clients will be the ad agency, some will be my professor. It’s hard not to take it personally when you put your heart and soul into something and someone doesn’t like it. But it’s so important not to take it that way. SO important. You know why? Because the ones who get it are the ones who will carry you through.