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Gentleness can achieve enduring results

November 27, 2011

continued from previous post

The part of the discussion that spoke to me concerned ‘philosophy’ as opposed to ‘tactics’. The author has captured something I mention here a lot when I say, ‘Don’t ask how to market better on Twitter, but ask yourself what you stand for and where you want your energy to go, what do you want to feed and help develop in the world?’

He says it this way (paraphrased):

Start acting on principle instead of tactically. Most people ask, ‘What should I do?’, but this still leads to a stressful scrambling kind of life.

The next step up is thinking strategically, ‘What am I trying to accomplish’, and focusing on the goal. Not not getting all frantic about tactics, you can lead a good, rewarding balanced life.

‘There is an even higher level though. This is acting philosophically instead of strategically. This asks,’What is right and wrong? What’s worth living and dying for?What do I stand for? Who am I?’.

There are also some excellent points about how to deal with situations where clients try to change the terms of the original agreements during the work, and how designers often get roped into delivering more work than they get paid for.

This said, the article as a whole gets my back up. I feel that this take (see previous post) on business is becoming outdated, and I’d like to see young, gifted and ambitious people like him spending their considerable energies more like Jonathan Harris does –  on building new models instead of cleverly figuring out how to exploit the existing ones purely for their own gains.

I”ve avoided mentioning the author’s name before now because while I disagree with his means, I don’t want to make it personal. If you want to read the whole article, it is called, ‘Designers, get paid by being a prima donna’ 

Marshall ends with these words:

I do think artists deserve to be treated better, but that means demanding to be treated better.

If you only take one thing from this piece , it’s to lay down a set of principles about what your time, your art, and your life are worth, and to explain them in advance. In the process, educate people about how best to work with you, and immediately call someone out when they start disrespecting your principles and your life.

We’re on the planet for a brief blink of an eye…It’s too short to share that time with people who won’t respect yours, and yet eternally long when shared with people doing beautiful and creative things….

Well, who can argue with this. Certainly not me. I totally agree.

But where we differ is that I don’t see my world as a place where I constantly have to watch my back. I don’t operate in a context where I have to force people to give me what I need and where I need to always keep on top of the game, feel all-powerful, and always win. My world is not about being at war.

Gentleness can achieve enduring results too.

If you want to know my philosophy, you can read it in any post in this blog. For instance, by being a ‘good soldier’, my husband has paid off our house, provided us both with freedom and comfort, gathered a circle of customers who love him dearly and keep coming back, and put away a nest egg for our retirement.

By holding to my principles, I, too, have started with nothing in a strange culture and country, and slowly built a name as a good artist and craftsman and am slowly getting rewarding, well paid work.

I don’t feel I have to struggle or that I am at war. My days are filled mostly with doing what I want. I don’t make mega bucks, but I don’t operate in that context either.

There is a lot of peace and time in my day, to reflect, socialize, create, relax. So I feel rich.

And I expect that by pursuing excellence in my work and treating people as I would like to be treated, a solid base will be established where gradually I’ll see more financial results.

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