A mistake that prevents a designer from growing

    Thinking over the topic of a new article, I tried to understand why many designers are stuck for a long time in the status of beginners and cannot make a breakthrough in their careers.

    Having failed to clearly formulate the problem, I asked the Instagram question “Which topic to cover in the next article?” In order to clarify the difficulties faced by young professionals.

    Having received a number of sensible ideas, I noticed one that indirectly featured in several answers. Immersed in its essence, I realized that it was she who was the main barrier that prevented novice designers from growing and reaching a high level without spending extra years on it.

    So good that it’s impossible to ignore you.

    Over the past weekend, I read Cal Newport's excellent book, which is originally called “So Good They Can't Ignore You”. In Russian, it is called “Stop dreaming, get busy!”, But inside it raises a deeper question.

    In his book, the author refutes the habitual dogma of “follow the heart,” recommending not to focus on finding a dream job, but on the qualitative performance of current duties. In his opinion, high-quality work, in itself, will bring interesting proposals and greater satisfaction from daily activities.

    This position is close to me, because over the years of practice I have made sure that you never know what awaits you ahead, which makes clear plans useless. And by doing your job well and talking about it, you increase the likelihood that life will give you something interesting.

    Here it is important to understand one thing:
    You cannot say with certainty what opportunities life will bring to you, but you can be sure that they will be doing their job well and paying attention to self-development.

    But just trying to do your job well is not enough, or at least ineffective. Thus, you ignore the gigabytes of the accumulated experience of other people and are forced to go this way again.
    There are a lot of professional designers in our community who are able to improve your work at times, spending only a few minutes analyzing them.
    Criticism is one of the most powerful tools for development.
    It is about her, we'll talk.

    How to stop being afraid of criticism and start using it

    Each successful athlete warmly recalls the first coaches and thanks for the work that allowed them to become who they are.

    And what does the coach do?

    He observes the game and, given his experience, gives comments about the erroneous actions of the athlete. Thus, year after year, the young player grows into a professional. So why is this practice little used in our field?

    AIC chief designer Sergey Popkov told me that one of the main and most difficult tasks of a manager is to transfer his knowledge to new employees. Therefore, in many companies there is a practice of feedback, when all teams gather, watch and comment on the work of colleagues. Imagine how effective it is when a lot of people with excellent experience offer their ideas for improving your work.

    It is possible that at this moment you became less afraid of critics and were disappointed because you did not have the opportunity to regularly receive sensible feedback.

    Yes, several art directors will not meet for the sake of discussing your work, but why not start with one? Perhaps you already know good designers, if not, check out the popular Dribbble / Behance users in your area and ask for feedback.

    Young designers periodically write me with a request to comment on their work. Usually, I use Monosnap and right on the layout I show obvious errors, and then I write the general impression and the necessary direction of improvements. If I used such a tool at the start of a career, I would grow much faster.

    I understand that some of you think that it is inconvenient or unpleasant to contact an experienced specialist with a similar request. But if you think that you lose? You will receive either a simple rejection or feedback that will speed up your development.

    It seems to me that the pros here at times outweigh the possible disadvantages, which in fact are not here. Do not hinder your development because of the desire to seem courteous, in the professional world nobody needs it.

    How to get useful feedback

    At the same time, you should understand that any professional is quite a busy person, so his time should be respected.

    Before writing an important message, I rewrite it several times in notes and only after that I send it. It is important for me that the tone was chosen correctly and the person did not have to read a bit to understand the essence of the question.

    The skill of writing is very important, so it will not hurt anyone to read one of these books:

    • “Write, cut” - Maxim Ilyakhov, Lyudmila Sarycheva
    • “How to write well” - William Zinser
    • “Author, scissors, paper” - Nikolay Kononov

    Start from where you learned about this person. This can be a webinar, portfolio, presentation or article. Explain what you liked and why you decided to turn to him.

    After that, tell us about the goals of your work and explain why you began to solve them in this way. Naturally, neither the employer, nor the client, nor the mentor should send files in the archive. Ideally, it should be a link to the work or simply an attached layout that is easy to open and give an opinion.

    Do not be afraid of negative criticism, wait for it, because it makes you better.

    After my first speech, I asked only one question: “What can be improved?”. This wording does not put the person in an awkward position and allows you to receive useful comments.

    And in general, friends, take it easy with everything that happens.

    Any problem today, after a few months will seem nonsense.

    As J. Holmes noted:
    “The universe is not hostile and not friendly to us. She is simply indifferent. ”
    My experience of victories and failures taught me to step over any situation and move on. Most things in this world do not deserve your attention, so focus on the main thing - your development. And one of the most effective ways to speed it up is to receive adequate criticism and use it in practice.

    Have a successful week!
    Ilya ️

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