The one thing I’ve learned as a creative professional, having worked for companies in addition to pursuing personal aspirations as an aspiring author, is that everything within the content creation space is subjective. This means that we must be conscious of the lengthy process to get to a final revision on anything and be willing to leave our egos at the door.
This is especially true now that our lives and the way we work have been permanently changed since the pandemic. Working remotely has reminded me that as a creative professional, it’s essential to be prepared to make revisions and be open to requests for changes. However, what’s even more critical is having very clear communication to reduce misunderstandings. Especially now that everyone works in different time zones, flexibility is even more vital than ever. We live in the age of emails, DMs, and virtual video meetings. As a creative professional who normally gets paid to produce fresh content, work has never been a 9 to 5 gig. At least, it has never been for me, but I love that aspect of being a creative soul because you can’t simply turn off creativity. Ideas hit you at all hours, and you have to capitalize on them when inspiration strikes. That’s the difference between a very left-brain position and a creative professional job where your creative juices are on-the-clock 24/7.
How Rejection Can Push Our Egos To Make Terrible Decisions
Rejection can be a powerful learning tool, and so can the ability to put our ego in check. However, giving our egos free reign to do whatever it wants has consequences. If you’re a creative professional working to create content of any kind, whether you’re an aspiring author or an experienced content producer within the digital marketing space, it’s all relatively subjective. This means that we creative minds should brace ourselves for both positive and negative scrutiny regarding the content we produce. If you’re a writer sharing your newly finished manuscript, not everyone who beta reads it will trip over themselves, flocking to your feet and gushing about your brilliance. The truth is most of us must be prepared for criticism, notes on revisions, and, yes, a healthy dose of rejection. It seems we get rejected at every phase if you’re an artist of any kind.
Even if you become a well-known stand-up comedian, not everyone will laugh at your jokes. Hopefully, if you’re lucky, you don’t get slapped like Chris Rock or get physically assaulted while on stage as Dave Chappelle did. Many comedians have rallied around Chris Rock as well as Chappelle over the attack. Copycat violence is a scary thing. Some claim that Chappelle would never have been attacked if Will Smith didn’t pave the way. Millions tuned in to watch on national television Smith being controlled by his ego. Whether you find a joke offensive or not, there is never ever an excuse for violence. Period.
But on a larger scale, copycat gun violence has increased, too. From Buffalo to Houston, there were eight shootings alone in early May. That’s not including the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary School that took place on May 24th in Uvalde. There has been a connection between feelings of rejection and violence early on in young adults.
Medical professionals have even found a link between mass shootings and rejection. The key to success isn’t the ability to win but the ability to learn how to handle rejection as children, young adults, and throughout our adulthood. Rejection is a painful part of personal growth. But without it, we remain stagnant. We need rejection in order to evolve. Rejection is inevitable in both our professional and personal lives. We get rejected by literary agents as writers. Then those of us that have agents and are shopping our manuscripts around are rejected by publishers. We’re rejected by loved ones, by people we want to befriend.
We deal with breakups, divorce, our positions being outsourced, and losing our job. Our creative ideas get rejected whether we’re coming up with a new marketing script for a product ad or trying to make it in traditional publishing. Rejection sucks. Rejection is ego-wounding. But rejection is an everyday reality of life.
Creative Professionals Must Learn To Deal With Rejection
Whether you’re an actor, comedian, director, producer, writer, painter, graphic designer, artist, musician, publisher, or marketing professional, the world of creativity is highly subjective. From ads promoting a product to books you’re trying to pitch to publishers, subjectivity is an unfortunate human reality. It is the reason why we can never act too cocky about anything. Arrogance never gets us anywhere. Arrogance shouldn’t have a place in the professional world. It doesn’t have a place in personal creative ambitions no matter how many awards you win and books you might sell. It gets us nowhere to talk up our game and tell the world just how wonderful we repeatedly think we are. It gets exhausting and toxic being around people who can’t work well with others or feel the need to overcompensate by oversharing their wins.
It doesn’t mean you have to make yourself small, but genuinely talented and successful leaders never lead with a sense of superiority. They also rarely feel the need to brag. If others bring up their wins, they modestly shrug it off. They’re usually great about attributing part of their success to support from mentors. They’re typically generous in giving credit to those who have collaboratively helped them get to their status. Not to say that this isn’t always the reaction. But they understand that creative collaboration means being willing to take criticism and input, even if it’s not what they want to hear. And if they do well or achieve great heights, some of the most successful artists and individuals are humble about it. Many aspiring authors want to desperately land an agent, but when they do, they don’t realize that this doesn’t guarantee anything. The hard work never stops. It only gets more challenging. You still have to work with your agent. You still have to work with publishers. You have to be willing to take feedback and be ready to make changes to your manuscript as requested. I’ve known writers who will not budge in terms of their creative vision. I’ve never understood this because I’ve always had the “there are more ideas where that came from” attitude.
I’ve never ever been married to a manuscript in the case of my personal writing aspirations and never dead-set on any marketing content ideas in my professional career when working within the digital marketing and creative strategy space. If something needs to be revised or changed, I simply do it. No big deal. No hard feelings. No need for egos. It’s something I’ve learned and developed as a critical interpersonal soft skill that has helped all aspects of my life.
The Bottom Line
When you’re inflexible with your visions, ideas, and creative body of work, you’re often led by your ego. Flexibility and having no ego are critical to a more collaborative, cohesive environment. Learning to accept revisions, changes, direction, criticism, and especially rejection is imperative. It’s a skill set that is often overlooked. People over-focus on what is called “hard skills” that might seem necessary for a job, or writers might over-focus on being talented with their prose. But talent only gets you so far, and so do hard skills, no matter how many you’ve mastered. Working well with others and being flexible with the revision stage means losing our ego because it’s a long road.
Any creative profession comes with lots and lots of rejection. It comes with lots of heartache and tears. Cry if you have to in the comfort of your home and then pick yourself back up by your bootstraps. Put plenty of moisturizer on that thickening skin of yours because you’re going to need it as you weather the challenges that come with subjectivity as it relates to the world of art. No one said subjectivity is fair or fun. But we must exercise diplomatic passion, start to take things less personally as it relates to our creative projects, and get rid of our egos. Say yes to change. Say yes to revisions. Allow rejection to be a great tool to keep our ego in check. After all, rejection and being egoless beautifies our humility, and humility is invaluable to success.