‘You either win or learn’. It’s that simple. If you approached every project, every task, every decision with the mindset that you will either win or learn from that experience then there are no mistakes to be made. Imagine if we lived in a world where you can create without judgement, that mistakes were rewarded.
Without mistakes and failure then every outcome is positive, you either nailed it, so it's a win. If you didn’t, you just learnt something about your process/outcome/client that didn’t work. You iterate, the process changes and you move on, better for having had the experience.
‘Fail forward’ is a phrase I heard that turns the negative into a positive. Or Seth Godin’s rule ‘the person who fails the most wins’. All profit comes from risk. If you remove the fear of failure from trying new things then all of a sudden change can happen. That anxious feeling you get in your gut as you move towards your fears is something I’m now going to embrace. If failure is eliminated then what am I worried about!
This week I sent off the sample design for a book I’m working on. It was the first time I’ve handed over only 2 options for the cover and one sample chapter design. At first, it made me feel uneasy. What if the client doesn’t think I’ve done enough work? What if they don’t actually like the direction I chose to go in? What if they had something else in mind?
I was taught to hand over 3 to 4 different designs so the client then has options and can choose whichever one resonates. So many “What if’s”! So much unnecessary work that isn’t worth the time it takes to create, it confuses the client and brings down the quality and value of the one design that I KNOW is the best one. I’ve been designing books for over 10 years! Why would the author, who is a super star in their chosen field, be more equipped than me to decide if the design is awesome or not? I was hired to work on this project because I'm the expert.
I embraced the discomfort and it paid off. The author wrote back saying they were “blown away” with how good everything looks and we are now full steam ahead. I’m still super energised by the project because I didn’t have to get 3 other designs rejected and it has validated my role as the expert.
I used the ‘overnight rule’ when working on the design for this book which gave me the extra confidence I needed. You create (maker mode) till your heart's content - try new ideas, mix it up - design without judgement.
With fresh eyes you review and critique. You can’t be objective when you're in maker mode - we lose all objectivity within 3 minutes of looking at something! That’s why we love what we do and self critique is so hard. We need the physical and mindful distance (over night) to help us see things objectively. I want to create passionalty in the moment but be able to review my own work as if it was someone else's the next day.
This is what I did for the book design, so even though I only handed over one design, I knew it was the best. This is a win.