“Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get up.” – Chinese Proverb
I am a highly sensitive, emotion-driven person. I get defensive; I cry at the drop of the hat, I curse people who don’t let me merge on the highway. So when I got my first 4-star review on Houzz this week (5-stars is the best), I went in to a tailspin. I wanted to scream: “Are you kidding me? I went above and beyond for you!” or “I don’t think you know how hard this job is!” or “Do you know how much money I lost on this project?” or just plain “%$$#)*^$@”.
Instead, I contacted a few friends, wallowed for a bit and then put on the largest pair of big girl panties I could find and began to take stock. Here’s what I came up with:
1. It’s business, not personal.
Easier said than done, especially in interior design where it gets personal really quickly. I have to keep in mind that it’s likely something in my process that failed my client, not me personally.
2. Take stock, learn and adapt.
On the spot I created a survey and sent it to all of my clients whose projects I recently finished. I asked them, “What did I do well?”, “What can I do better next time?” I also asked myself: Was there something in the intake process I missed? Was there a verbal cue I ignored? If so, how could a process help me catch that?
3. Stop dwelling.
I love trauma repetition. I like to relive annoying, embarrassing, humiliating and stressful situations over and over and over again. I can experience these emotions -- that's natural -- but I need to cut it off after a short period of time and move on.
4. Release my need for others’ approval.
This is tough one in a social media environment where every like, comment and follower feels like a popularity contest. I am flawed. Big time. I’ve made mistakes and I will continue to make mistakes. Generally speaking, however, I am good person with good intentions and a desire to deliver great spaces to my clients. But I have a new mantra: I would like people’s approval, but it is not a requirement. I would rather do the best I can and accept myself for who I am.
5. Continue taking risks…and living to tell you about it.
I will not let a 4-star review keep me from going after what I really want – a future in design. With this risk will come reward -- and also more mistakes. But by making mistakes, surviving, learning from and telling you about them, I hope to chip away at the misperception that we need to be perfect to be successful. Maybe if I say it enough, I too, will start to believe it.