This is an interesting one. I was talking the other day with an extremely successful music producer. He said the secret to his success is that he doesn’t care. That is to say he cares and he actively doesn’t care at the same time (cognitive dissonance, anyone?).
This reminds me of another piece of wisdom which has helped me – that is “Never fall in love with a deal. Your time is valuable, and if you are working with one client, that’s less time you can work with someone else; so also consider the cost to you of working with each client.”
Of course all this goes against all our instincts and training. Creative people care desperately. Especially since success or failure is always a reflection of us – of our personal brilliance or uselessness.
But the idea is a very helpful one and is worth reflecting on. We try so hard to please our client or investor. Often we try just too hard. Who we should really be pleasing is ourselves and our own high standards. If we are doing it because we like doing it, and perfecting it because we will get massive pleasure from its excellence, then that is what will work for us in the long run. Smart clients will have chosen to work with us because of our taste and our smarts and our experience. Then we just have to deliver on that. We don’t have to lose sleep over it – we just have to do a great job. The way we see it.
And you know how much better you are creatively and how much stronger your work is if you don’t care about anything – except the work itself.