Better Together

September 25, 2012

Who do you think are life’s greatest teachers?

In a way it’s pretty obvious to think of all the things we can learn from the more experienced people in our industry, but today I’d like to encourage you to think about what you can learn from your peers… or even people will much less experience than you.

Nature, nurture, experience… we are a mash up of all our external influences, and because of this every single person on this planet has a different way of viewing the world. A more practiced photographer/blogger/stationer/designer might have industry knowledge that they can pass onto you, but someone unfamiliar with the norms of an industry will undoubtedly be able to offer a completely different perspective on the same situation.

Passion and enthustaiam are contagious so don’t ever disregard an inexperienced professionals’ opinions due to lack of experience. Sure, you might not want to take their ideas as gospel, but don’t dispel what their untrained eye might pick up. It’s all very easy to become bogged down with ‘the way things are’ when you’ve been doing something for a long time.

For example, 5 years ago 99.9% of wedding dresses on the racks of bridal boutiques were strapless. Now I don’t claim to know anything about how this side of the wedding industry works, but from my own experience as a bride-to-be looking for a wedding dress in 2007, the choice was somewhat limited. My first bridal boutique experience culminated in me leaving the store in tears as the shop owner told me “But that’s what wedding dresses are dear” when I voiced my distaste towards the strapless blancmanges on offer. However between then and now a whole host of new styles have emerged. So what happened? If I was to hazard a guess I would have to say that I bet it wasn’t the more experienced designers that suddenly did a 360 and thought “Oooh you know what? Not everyone looks good in strapless, let’s do something different!” I can all but guarantee that it would have been the newer, less experienced but more innovative designers who had the fresh design ideas.

In a similar vein, one of my favourite parts of any workshop is the Q&A session and the ‘down time’ after the official teaching wraps up. It is often the things that are brought up in after hours discussions that make me question my own opinions and look at things in a new light. I may often be the most experienced person in the room, but I’m certainly not always the most insightful. And without fail I always leave a workshop environment having learnt something new – even if it’s been me doing the teaching!

So what do I want you to think about this week? Well maybe there’s someone newer in the industry that you haven’t given the time of day yet? Maybe if you’re honest with yourself you’ve become lackluster and apathetic about learning new things or progressing your business or designs. The crazy Summer wedding season is coming to a close so let’s use this time to take stock of where our businesses are, and to think about how we can grow into even better versions of ourselves for next year. Question the things that you’ve done. Allow yourself a moment to revel in your achievements but then let’s move forward and learn to be better… together.