Since going freelance full-time (almost two full years ago, oh my!), my professional life has been a series of learning experiences. Of course, I'm picking up new techniques and attempting to master new technologies. But the most important lessons, I've discovered, have more to do with who I am (and how I handle myself) as a person and a professional.
When I worked as part of a team for my former employers, the success (or failure) of a project was distributed. Additionally, as the lowest person on the totem pole, my opinions rarely counted which pretty much led to me not voicing opinions. As such, I never really took the time to evaluate myself much outside of what I produced.
Now that I'm wholly responsible for my success, I'm starting to discover that I can make my projects better and my clients happier with more than excellent web design and dev. It isn't just the work I produce, but how I go about producing.
Ego, for instance, can be a major roadblock to any endeavor. Which is why I chose it as the topic for my April contribution to The Pastry Box Project.
As I detail in my Pastry Box contribution, ego can often be confused with passion and commitment. But, unlike passion and commitment, ego will hamper progress and even destroy a project.
I suspect I knew this early in my career, but youth and my ego itself rarely let me see a situation for what it was. Looking back, I can clearly see those times where my ego had to be right, and good communication and collaboration suffered as a result.
I also see it, sometimes, in the people I've worked with. And I see the havoc it creates not only within a group of colleagues, but in the project itself. The end result is almost always not what the group had hoped for in the beginning.
These days, I rarely need to rely on hindsight to see this. Past mistakes resonate with me, serving as guidepost whenever I start a new project or working relationship. That doesn't mean I don't struggle with my own ego at times … I do. But I finally have the awareness (and ability) to do something about it. This has made all the difference, not only in my professional life, but my personal life too.