Tips for Young Creatives: Be Careful of the Bridges You Burn

A couple days ago I mentioned the article by Doug Bartow in the January 2011 issue of How magazine on tips for young designers. While the article may have been geared toward those in the graphic design field I believe his tips are ones that apply to people in all sorts of creative career paths including (but not limited to) writers, video and audio, film, painting, etc.

The second tip following “sweat the details” (which I posted about last week) was to play nice. Now, this sounds like something we all learned back in elementary school and have been told by our parents as we were growing up. You would be surprised by how we forget this savvy business rule as we get older. Working, especially in today’s economy, gets stressful. Our first reaction rarely is to ” let it go” and  in all fairness, it’s hard to just let something go when it really gets to you. So what do we do? We pick at it, we think about it non-stop, we complain to our friends, co-workers, family about it and usually we let those little things build up and seep into our professional careers and work. We’ll belittle a client who doesn’t have the slightest idea what a person with your creative talents really does; we’ll refuse to go beyond our definition of our given profession because we think or say we’ll never be compensated for our hard work; we’ll get online or go out in public and completely tear down somebody or a group of people because we think it’ll make us feel better to vent and let it all out.

Be careful of the bridges you burn in your career. Let’s get honest and real – we all have bad days, we encounter people in our careers who really seem to defy logic and reason and in some cases we are undervalued and mistreated. That being said, there is no reason for us to completely burn bridges in our professional careers that will leave us up the creek. You can’t anticipate the future or what’s to come. Say you’re laid off (which I have been) and all of a sudden you need references or help with leads on a new job. If you’ve played dirty and have had a reputation for not being a team player, you may find it a tad bit hard to find someone willing to help you out in your time of need.

The same goes for what you do online. We’ve heard countless stories of how seemingly nice people at work suddenly turn to the darkside online. They’ll go on Facebook and will rip a certain co-worker, they will complain about how much they hate their job, they will rant on and on about things related to their career giving you the impression that perhaps this person is in the wrong line of work. Don’t be that person. I’ve personally adopted a policy of not talking about work outside of the confines at work, and complaining while you’re at work seems like a waste of time. If you have nothing but complains and negative things to say about your job, you should probably be seeking new employment elsewhere.

So people, play nice. It’s harder than it sounds and takes more effort than simply ranting and raving about the downside of being a professional in today’s economy, but it’s worth the effort.

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