Did this article title make you feel defensive? Even just a little?¬†Whether we're well experienced or new to our craft, it can be hard to take criticism. I often recall a scenario from my early days as a framing gallery owner in downtown Seattle. My clientele was well-educated and art savvy. They kept me on my toes.
I also had world-class competition with a framing shop known for its museum level expertise nearby. My edge was pricing, and I fancied myself enough of an expert after seven years in framing to hold up in all but the most complex jobs.
I was challenged with an original 3-D paper piece with images that came very close to the edge of the background paper. I framed it with a foam board lift under the mat and apologized to my client that the paper was buckled because I couldn't hold it down with the foam since it needed to be recessed to not show.
She came back two weeks later and showed me the, now obvious, solution she received from my competitor--to bring the foam all the way in to the window edge and line it with the same mat board just below the bevel.
Here's the key point.¬†I was defensive and ungracious to my client that returned. She was excited and went out of her way to share the great solution so I'd know what to do next time for this trendy artist's work. She told me she'd still come to me first and trusted my skill, and she understood I just hadn't encountered that situation yet. And while I heard her, my pride was stung, and I had it written all over my face. What was an excellent learning experience and a noble sharing by my client became awkward and perhaps hurt the relationship.
That moment has stayed with me--one of tiny regret that always gnawed at me. I hold it as a reminder that when I'm confronted with I Don't Know Everything, I'm in a moment of the spectacular chance to grow.
Here's a belated Thank You! to that generous client, and a nudge for you to embrace those I Don't Know This Yet moments.
-Sheri J. Kennedy, Editor