17th May 2021
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Tips For Artists on Communication And Managing Expectations, Pt 2

Artists On Communication
By Artist's Strategy

Last week we explored the importance of communicating openly and regularly. While one has to communicate in order to manage expectations, they’re such vastly different pieces of running your business that I chose to break them up.

Communicating regularly is a wonderful habit to identify and nurture in and of itself. Managing expectations is on another level of communication that can free us from worry and long term disappointment.

“Managing expectations is the simple act of making sure you or whomever is aware of what’s to come. Period. Seems super easy, yea? Nope.”

For whatever reason, many of us struggle with communicating the truth of a scenario. More often than not, this seems to stem from not wanting to deal with a situation so we convince all involved it will come together even if there isn’t a clear path forward. And rather than give you a list of pros and cons this week, let me give you a fictitious example (it’s not really fiction…) of poorly managed expectations.

Two years ago I was approached about producing a show. The project was interesting, the team was dynamic and the resources were seemingly in abundance. All signs pointed to ‘yes’. I signed on board with the project and started digging into the work. Pretty soon thereafter, communication started to become spotty. Days would go by with unanswered questions and assumed outstanding action items.

“In the world of “expectations”, I started to make my own assumptions that either the work wasn’t getting done or that it was and I didn’t have to worry about it.”

I was building my own story as to how the project was shaping up. Little did I know that while they would send back quick replies (“got this!” / “working on securing those funds. No worries.”), nothing was actually happening. And often what *was* happening was a double unnecessary effort as I had probably already completed the same action item.

Things came to a head, of course, when it became clear that everyone was on a different page. The project came to a screeching halt and close to $35,000 was down the drain. Artists want to succeed. We want to pull through because it’s what we know how to do. It’s part of the magic of the world of creating and yet, if folks had managed expectations all along, we could have also embraced the incredible power of collaboration. And while that is one key, dramatic example of poorly managed expectations destroying an effort, that same concept can filter over into the most mundane pieces of your career.

Are you really only 5 min away from that meeting you’re already late to?

Have you really done the work you said you were going to do before that production meeting?

Do you share the same vision for the movie you’re making?

“One could argue that this seems to have to do more with just telling the truth but then that implies that many of us lie and I don’t believe that to be true. It’s more about avoidance and a sense of false hope that we can tell ourselves and everyone else.”

The Five Year Plan at the core of Artist’s Strategy’s curriculum is all about managing your own expectations for your career’s path forward. While everything as part of your plan is not assured to succeed (thank my legal counsel for that disclaimer), based on the mile markers you’ve set for yourself, you should have, if nothing else, a much better sense of what the next 12 months could look like based on your organized efforts.

Why is this helpful? Well – not to state the obvious but as we look to create sustainable futures, it’s helpful to know how make believe all of this is or not. Those micro goals that we’re hopefully achieving weekly will tell us a lot. Thankfully, if we’re also in tune with what’s working and what’s not, we can shift and guide as necessary to avoid pitfalls and potential failure. Managing expectations is healthy and responsible for all involved. And to dovetail off of last week’s post, the only way to truly do that is through clear, open lines of communication. The synonymy is gorgeous.

By Joshua Morgan for Artist’s Strategy.
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Artist's Strategy

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Freelancers: How Setting Office Hours Can Make You More Productive

Tips For Artists on Communication and Managing Expectations, Part 1

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