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Shark Tank is one of my favorite TV shows. It?s exciting to see the ingenuity and negotiating from people finding a way to take their idea to a whole new level. But sometimes it doesn?t go well. Someone brings out their new gadget, with $2000 in sales and asks for a valuation of 1.5 million dollars. They don?t even have all the answers as to what they?d do with the money they?re asking the sharks to invest or how they can sell more of this amazing gadget. They pitched too soon. Sometimes we do the same thing with our new brand, video, stage or graphic design, and it falls flat or becomes something entirely different than you had dreamed of. How do you avoid this?

There you are, looking at the screen, with a big smile on your face. You nailed it. You?re proud of what you?ve created.

Hold.

The hours you?ve poured into this are paying off. It?s probably your best work ever. Your pastor is going to be so excited to see what you?ve created.

Hold.

As a craftsman and artist, you pour yourself into your work. You love your work. But sometimes that love clouds your perception. Before you send it off for final approval, it needs to go through the fire of feedback.

Feedback #1: You

The first round of feedback is from you. Walk away from your work. Literally. Turn off your computer and clear your head, then fill it up with something else. Take in a movie, look through the latest Communications Art magazine, or sit down with a cup of coffee. The goal is to let go of your work. Get to the place where you can admit that the work is no longer yours.

Now go back and look at it. Does it tell the right story or make you feel the right way? Is it interesting? For some projects and some artists this will be enough. You have to know yourself. If you?re early and it?s a high level project, now it?s time for the second level of feedback, new eyes.

Feedback #2: New Eyes

For some this is the artist across the table, your art director, or a group of artists you know and respect. We need others around us. Once you?ve found your feedback group, and I suggest making this a consistent and mutual group, it?s time to get their feedback.

Hold.

Before you ask for feedback, draw a map for those who will offer the feedback. All creatives are not created equal. Guide them as to what you?re wanting; don?t just show the work and ask if they like it. The answer will be yes even if it?s no. Ask questions: how it makes them feel, what attracts them, and what they would edit out. Allow them to pour into it.

Be careful and remember they are critiquing the work?not you. Also, they may be wrong, and that?s okay. When you get feedback that you don?t think lines up, ask more questions. Not to prove they are wrong, but to have understanding of their perception.

Once you have this feedback, you can use that as a lens to look at the work again. It?s not a checklist of things to go ?fix?. It?s a new vantage point to see what you are creating.

Once you have this, walk away again. Look at what you?ve created and why you?ve created it. Does it tell the right story and align with and expand your pastor?s vision? If so, send it for final feedback.

Like the previous round of feedback, your pastor may need a map too. That could look something like this

Pastor Moses, I?m really excited about this series on faith. After talking with you, I grabbed hold of the statement you made that ?faith isn?t about knowing you won?t fall; faith is know God will always catch you.? That?s what drove the design that is attached for your approval. Once approved, I?ll get this moved into production. If this doesn?t line up, please let me know the message you want to give for this series, and I?ll bring that into the design.

Again, remember that any feedback you receive is about the work and not you. It merely reflects their vantage point. The goal is to capture that vantage point and link arms with his vision in order to equip the church for the series.

Through all this, please remember that though the fire will burn at times, like a sword, you and your work become stronger going through it.

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