Seven Guidelines for Cultivating Artisan Habits

Take a moment to think about your current career. Are you where you want to be? Are you providing quality craftsmanship? Do you have great customer relationships? No matter the answers to these questions, you can start developing good habits today that will set you up for future success.

The work of an artisan is dynamic. Every day we discover innovative solutions to old problems, new tools are released, and customers bring challenging, complex projects to your desk. Maybe you are just starting on the path to becoming an artisan or are a subject matter expert in your respective trade. Regardless of your current career trajectory, you, as an artisan, should always be looking to level-up your skill set. We know that good habits are the foundation to developing skills, but it is sometimes difficult to start. Our team has compiled these seven guidelines that will help you to begin and stay with your habits.

Artisans See Results Only When They Work

At first, this may seem overly simple. When you do the work, you will get better, your value will rise, and you will get the projects you want. But when you are in the thick of boring tasks or bogged down by company policies, it can be extremely difficult to get motivated to work. Wake up early every morning determined to simply do better work than you did yesterday. You do not have to be great, you just have to make a list, follow a strategy, do whatever it takes to re-ignite that spark and then do the work itself. It is much easier to go from good to great than it is to ever get to good. Focus on doing good wherever your talent touches the work. Success and perhaps greatness will follow.

Artisans Craft Superior Products With Superior Work

It is easy to brush over the details. You run out of time and skimp on a process here, or do not proof the copy there. After a few months of procrastination, you may start to wonder why you are not retaining customers, or why you keep having the same programming difficulties. The solution is simple: if you want a superior product, you have to put in superior focus and effort. Doing tawdry work will always result in a sub-par product. When quality is demanded, superior craftmanship is required. Nothing builds confidence better than letting the work speak for itself.

Artisans May Not See Immediate Results

The agile workflow has created a false sense of expectation when it comes to skills development. The quick iterations of a product produce immediate and responsive results. When you are developing your skills on the other hand, the road to proficiency seems to stretch far into the distance. You can show up, do great work, and solve problems, you may get discouraged if you do not see immediate movement towards proficiency. Ira Glass calls this “the Gap.” The Gap is when you know what good work looks like but you cannot produce it yet. Stick it out and you will wake up one morning and realize you are no longer at the beginning of the path, but well on your way towards the end.

Artisans Continually Develop Good Habits

Researchers generally agree that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. This definitely presents a daunting challenge. When you start building good habits, however, an amazing thing happens. You master one task, like getting up earlier, learning one new design pattern each week, or refactoring one class of legacy code each day, and it quickly gives you the confidence you need to tackle a new skill. Developing good habits leads to even more good habits. Success breeds success. So start small.

Artisans Draw Customers With Quality Service

If you want to grow your business or re-engage customers, you will only see results towards that goal in proportion to the quality of work you provide them. You know the importance of not letting the little things slide, but you also need to be on the same team as your customers. Show them that you care about helping them solve their problems, own your shortcomings, and work together to build a better product. Some people say to simply charge all customers a bit more to increase the bottom line, but the artisan has a better approach; provide total quality of service that your customers will actually want to pay more to receive it. Be funded by your talent.

Artisans Reap the Benefits of Perseverance

As you are working on a project – whether it is managing an account, writing web copy, designing a mobile application, or developing software – it is tempting to bail when you get in the weeds or if it goes off the rails. You may be tempted to simplify the project or negotiate down from what you originally promised. The thing that sets an artisan apart is their willingness to provide top-quality skills and services through the project’s duration even amidst the adversity of a challenging and often shifting landscape. Perseverance and determination are the hallmarks of the artisan lifestyle. Forged in risk and refined by failures, an artisan is more likely to succeed than those who do not take their craft and reputation seriously.

Artisans Overcome Failure by Planning for Success

Your career has probably been filled with a mixture of successes, failures, and valiant attempts. As you plan your path forward, focus on the things you did right and purpose to those things again. Analyze the things that went wrong, determine how you can avoid those problems in the future, and move on. Maximize the good and minimize the bad. You cannot change the past. The only thing that is real is the now. By camping on your past failures, you will only repeat those mistakes. Plan today and build a better future.

Artisans Collaborative is built on the belief that we can innovate past the cutting edge by prioritizing knowledge sharing and creating a holistic view of the modern tradesperson. A keystone of this belief is the development of good habits. With Appius Claudius Caecus, we say that every person is the artisan of their own fortune. So if you want to become a better artisan, start today by making a list of areas you want to improve, devise strategies to meet those goals, and commit to working towards them every day.