3 Types of People to Never Waste Your Creative Energy With

This is it, time to wrap up the networking series!

The people you surround yourself with impact your future. The friends you make in college, for example, can have a lasting impact on your career and your personal life. Choose your friends wisely.

Of course, you can’t always control who you become friends with — and you don’t get to choose your family. But you can control who you spend time with. If you want to have a successful future, surround yourself with successful creatives. Make friends with artists who have similar goals and aspirations. And don’t be afraid to let go of toxic friendships.

I’m not implying that this is easy to do. You may have commitments that you can’t back out of. You may have coworkers that you can’t escape. If you can’t let go of a relationship, you can at least limit contact. Don’t spend any more time than is necessary around people who drain your energy.

Starting with…

1. The Complainers

We all have complaints. I need to vent to my wife and close friends occasionally. I even complain to or with my clients, sometimes. It’s a fantastic way to feel human and let off some steam. It makes you more relatable, too!

But Complainers (with an uppercase C) are the people who always have something negative to say. They find the downside in every situation and point out all the things that could go wrong. They gossip more than they work.

While it’s true that complainers can be a drag, they can also be a warning system for problems in a creative pursuit.

The key is to learn how to handle complainers productively and positively before you drop them. Here are a few tips:

  • Thank them for their input and let them know that you’re considering their concerns.
  • Ask them for specific examples of what they’re unhappy about.
  • Be blunt and ask, “What are you going to do about that?” when you hear their complaints.
  • Investigate their complaints and suggestions before you make changes.
  • Follow up with them if you make changes to see if they’re happy with the results.

If nothing you do seems to turn their frown upside-down, try to limit or end your association with them. A complainer is more than capable of slowing positive momentum if left unchecked.

2. The No-Shows (or the Perpetually Late)

I was raised by a U.S. Army Veteran who served in Vietnam. Punctuality was one of the core values that I had driven into me as a toddler! 

That’s probably why I hate being late. And when other people make me wait.

If you’re in any service industry, then you know the pain of a no-show client. You lose time and money every time someone misses an appointment.

Tattoo artists regularly schedule clients that don’t show. Or they’re always late and never seem to respect your time. This can be frustrating, but there are ways to avoid the no-shows (or the perpetually late).

First, be up-front with your clients and set expectations. Make it clear that you value their time and that you expect them to be on time for their appointment. Tattoo artists tend to take deposits that act as a retainer fee if they don’t show. This helps deter the no-shows. How can you have your contacts show commitment before an appointment?

Second, hold your own standards! Be on time for your appointments with clients. Be on time for appointments with your doctors, even. No matter who it’s with, if you’re running late, call and let the other party know.

Being punctual is a sign of respect. Respect for your own time and other people’s. When you can’t give someone the respect of being punctual, clear and honest communication is the best alternative.

But if someone is always late or misses appointments…fire them. I have little tolerance for people who abuse my most valuable and non-renewable resource: my time.

3. The Realists

We all know people who tell us our dreams are too big, we’re never going to make it, and we should give up. These people are the ones who hold us back from achieving our full potential.

Oddly, parents tend to be the worst for this. They want you to be safe and realistic. They don’t understand that playing to win and playing to avoid loss are different games. I prefer playing to win.

Forget the realists. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your dreams.

Find a supportive community that will help you achieve your goals. These are the people who will help you reach your full potential.

If you can’t bring the realists around to the idea that you’re playing to win, then let them go.

If you can’t let them go, you’ll have to be conscious about how much you let their opinions influence you. Use the realists as your red team of challengers. They can bulletproof your ideas without realizing it!

Looking forward…

The three types of people you should never waste your creative energy on: those who only have something negative to say, those who don’t respect your time, and those who don’t respect you or your work.

If you work with people in these categories, it’s time to move on. Find the people who will push you to greater heights and see how high you can go!

If you can’t move on (because they happen to be family), limit your contact as much as possible. Make a conscious decision not to let anyone hold you back.

Yes, you might fail at your goals. You will fail at something. But you’ll learn more about yourself through failures than by playing it safe and surrounding yourself with toxic people.

Go out. Make big things happen. And do it with the right people.

For more advice on the business of art, sign up for my newsletter! I look forward to seeing you on here the next time ’round.

Leave a Comment