May 5, 2010

Have conviction (not a conviction, the character trait)

An important lesson I've learned over the years is that you should choose your challenges wisely.  You aren't going to win every argument you get into, so only get into it when it's something you feel strongly about.  My mother got it right.  She didn't care for the way I dressed as a teenager, but knew it wasn't important so she didn't fight with me about it.  There was, however, one pair of size 36 second hand beige wool old man pants that she hated.  She felt strongly about it, and refused to be seen with me in said pants.  It was important to her, and she stuck to her guns, thus she was never seen with me in public wearing the old man pants (she would use her knee high horse-decorated upholstery riding boots against me, and we would both end up changing outfits as a truce). If she had fought with me over every ugly sweater, or every time I wore hiking boots with a dress, she would have been one tired lady.

The same is true when agreeing to do things for others, whether it's a favor for a friend or a job for a client.  If you say yes to every piddly little thing, you're going to be one tired lady too (or a tired gentleman).  Don't accept any challenges that you don't know for sure that you are able to, or have the desire to see to the end.  To be respected as a professional, it's imperative that you put as much effort into every job you do as you put into fighting for your right to party.  The more half assed jobs you do, the more you look like a crapsack who isn't worth hiring.  Don't take chances pumping out sub-par work, you never know who might see it and how it might affect your reputation!  In my past, whether I was working as a filing monkey (hate) or a screen printer (love) I always put the same amount of effort in: all of it. 

Some important things to consider when deciding on whether or not to say yes to the request are:
  • Do you have time for this new project as well as other projects you're already working on?
  • Can you finish it by the deadline set?
  • Is it worth your time? (i.e. will you be getting paid enough for the time you put in)
  • What does your gut tell you?  Do you really want to do it or not?
If the answer to the last consideration is yes, then all the others might not matter much to you.  The final question is usually the most important to me.  We've all thrown common sense out the window at least once to help out a friend, or do something really fun right?  If the answer to ANY of the considerations is "NO", you should seriously think about saying no to the request, or else you better have a really good reason for agreeing to the task.  If you do end up accepting the challenge, then see it to the end!  Just think, if my mother lacked the conviction to continually say "No, Jillian, those pants are ugly and you look like a homeless 68 year old man who crapped his pants" then she would have had to be around a 15 year old girl who looked like a homeless 68 year old man who crapped his pants.  It would have slowly chipped away at her happiness and life force, just like doing a job your heart isn't in chips away at yours.