Monday, March 11, 2019

Honing Your Craft

Hello everyone!

It feels like entrepreneurship is in the air lately! Everywhere I look I see people going into business for themselves, producing multiple streams of income and watering the rivers to financial freedom. As a full-time and part-time marketing and design professional, my brain is working 24/7. I work full time as a Senior Marketing Specialist for the largest commercial real estate company in the world, and part time I am a marketing and design business owner. This year, I am setting my business goals as a priority and honing my craft as a content creator.

When I look up the word hone (or honing) Merriam-Webster defines it as 1) to sharpen or smooth with a whetstone; 2) to make more acute, intense, or effective. Wow, that’s powerful! You literally take a tool and grind it against a stone to make it sharper, more effective at what it was designed to do. Let’s see how to apply that same principle to ourselves. We each have a skill or talent—a innate gift—that come naturally; whether it be public speaking, drawing, financial aptitude, cooking, caring giving, or teaching. Taking that skill, talent or gift—or tool—and sharpening it so that it becomes effective is paramount to completing the job or task. The question then becomes, what device—or experience—can I use to sharpen this? A pencil sharpener was specifically designed to efficiently sharpen a pencil. All the mechanics and their functions were invented to give a pencil its cylindrical shape culminating a perfect sharp point with which to write. Can you sharpen a pencil with a knife? Sure! But will the point be perfect and sharp? Will the cuts be even? Can you carry it around with you at all times? Your tools need to be sharpened by things, people and experiences conducive to shaping and sharpening the purpose of those instruments.

Honing your craft first starts with identifying your craft. Think about something you do very well; something you don’t even have to think about in order to accomplish or something which you often receive compliments. This is your skill, your talent, your gift, your craft! Now, that you’ve identified it, what situations, experiences or environments are the most conducive to helping you sharpen your craft in order to monetize it? I’ll use myself as an example. As a self-taught graphic designer, I thought I had to offer everything under the sun to be successful: flyers, business cards, banners, logos, product design, illustrations, websites, and the list goes on. While I do offer several of those, creating websites is not my forte. In the beginning, I tried to learn all I could about HTML, coding, programs like Dreamweaver, and FTP uploading—honestly just typing those words gives me a headache. I limited the website projects I accepted, and I stressed about the few I had because I was trying to make it work with my limited knowledge. So, guess what, I got to the point where I realized I had to scale back and really narrow in on what I could execute REALLY well. Cutting those services didn’t mean I was taking a pay cut if anything I could charge more for my expertise in the remaining specialized areas!

Today, I continually immerse myself in order to become a subject-matter expert by taking webinars, staying current on industry trends, joining groups/communities, and studying other successful professionals. Collaboration is something that I have found helps me sharpen my skillset while becoming inspired by fellow subject-matter experts. By honing my craft, I can become a thought leader in my area of expertise where people will seek out my perspective and service.

This is the sweet spot. Creating the solution to a need. You don’t get there by doing a little bit of everything poorly or surrounding yourself with people who are not designed to enhance the effectiveness of who you are and the task you were designed to do. You get there by finding that thing specifically designed to refine you and the thing you were exclusively created to do on this earth. What is that thing for you? Is it finding a mentor, taking an online course to gain credibility in your industry, or perhaps renting a separate work space that fosters quiet and creativity? If you’ve gotten to this point, your work ethic is not in question, you are willing to do what it takes to succeed. Focus your hard work on refining, shaping and putting an edge on what it is you do best!

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