Personal ownership to success is kind of lonely. True success doesn’t come from one person being the sole expert in a subject, but rather shaping an idea over time with trusted colleagues. Collaboration yields greater learning, and the sharing of ideas helps projects progress. When working alone for too long, you may meet innovation’s biggest enemy: complacency.
Positive feedback is nice, but it doesn’t help us grow or achieve much. Quality work thrives on constructive feedback. In art school, we were never allowed to say, “I like it,” or “I don’t like it,” because they were meaningless, cringe-worthy phrases. Explain why something works or doesn’t work so the project can progress. Find those familiar with your work’s subject matter so you have a knowledgeable perspective reviewing the work.
“The truth will set you free, but at first it will make you angry.”
As vital as they are, change and collaboration can still be very difficult. To be honest, not everyone is great at giving feedback, and you may encounter the person that can immediately take the wind out of your sails after weeks of hard work. If that’s the case, thank them for providing their thoughts and tell them you will consider their suggestions. Then on your own, objectively weigh all remarks to see if they would improve your work. This is a discipline and a balancing act. Trust your own knowledge that has taken you to where you are, but seriously consider the suggestions of others, as abrasive as they may come off at times. Any review of your work is not a personal attack on your own character, and the sooner this is understood, the stronger you will become.
When facing criticism, there can be two extremes if confidence is lacking. There can be the person without a backbone, who changes everything they do based on anything anyone says, resulting in some confused end-result that lost its original focus. The opposite can be one that gets immediately aggravated that the feedback is not all positive, and shuts down, closing the door, and holding a grudge against the person that originally tried to help but did not “sandwich” the criticism around positive reviews.
There have been times I spent hours working on a painting, and a critique tells me it would be more effective in a different color palette. I can’t just click my mouse and change it when we are working with fussy oil paints, so at times I would receive the advice, but then choose to keep my painting as is. Other times, I would agree with the criticism as I shared the doubts of my work but didn’t know how to articulate it. Quite literally, I was so close to this painting, that I rarely took a step back to realize I was screwing the whole damn thing up. I had people around that said it was “good” but I knew myself that it was far from “good.” Yes, we are typically our harshest critics, but criticism is needed to find the best approach for a project and so that we don’t spend an entire weekend in a room without windows, surrounded by fumes from open canisters of turpenoid, thinking the quality of work is still going strong.
Moral of the story? Don’t spend an entire weekend locked in a room with turpenoid fumes.