On my flight out to WPPI earlier this month, I sat in front of a photographer I have never met. In fact, I don't remember what his name is. That's probably good. He was talking to the woman sitting next to him, about how he was a photographer. They clearly didn't know each other, and he was talking about his business and his photography.
It's hard not to eavesdrop when you hear someone talking on an airplane - especially when they do the same thing as you. As I listened though, I really wanted to be able to stop. I really wanted to make their whole conversation stop. As I listened, I heard this guy talk about himself - and his business - in a way that made me cringe. I listened as he bad-mouthed past clients that he hated working with. I listened as he talked about the awards he'd won as a photographer. I listened as he talked about his perspective on other photographers.
In his mind, I'm sure he was saying all the right things, but he CLEARLY had no idea how he was coming across to the girl next to him (or the rest of us who could hear him).
Sometimes I say things I shouldn't. Sometimes I say things, and even though they are true, I really should have thought a little harder before I opened my mouth. Sometimes I think about something for the business, and my tendency is to just do it! Sometimes I get irked by things, and I want to say exactly what I think at that very moment. But I don't.
Just about everything I post on this blog, or on my photography blogs, gets read first by my wife Beth. Whenever I have an idea of something I'd like to do for the business, I run it by her. Anytime I want to make a large purchase, or start a new marketing campaign, or order new sample canvases for the studio - you guessed, we talk about it.
Now, she's my wife, so the success or failure of the business has a direct impact on her life - so it's certainly reasonable that she might want to know what's going on. Here's the thing though. I don't have her read this blog because I want her to approve it. I don't run things by her because I need her to say yes before I can make decisions. I do it because she's my filter. She helps me filter things that I say or do. She brings another perspective and that's helpful to me.
As artists and entrepreneurs, we often get so wrapped up in our world - and our ideas - that it can be difficult to balance them against reality. When you live and breathe something, it's easy to believe that it's the only thing - and even easier to believe that everyone must see things the same way as you. Having a filter is really important, whether it's your wife, a business partner, a mentor, a coach - someone that knows you, and that you trust.
Do you have a filter? Do you have someone that helps make you better by giving you another perspective? Someone that can help you understand how you sound, how you appear, how you are perceived? I HIGHLY recommend finding a coach or a mentor that you can bounce your ideas off of. I highly recommend having someone in your life that cares enough about you to speak truth lovingly to you when you need it most.