Before becoming a photographer, my last proper job was at a fashion house in Barcelona. I worked there for many years and I have to admit that in a way that company was like a school to me. I learned so much from them and I grew both as a professional and as a human being. The people whom I met during those years changed my life forever. One of the biggest lessons that I learned on that job was from the CEO of the company himself. He once told me that working in an environment which tolerates mistakes invites people to take risks and innovate. And to me that was the secret of the company's success at the time. When you fear nothing, you become a doer.
I grew up in an environment that was very intolerant to mistakes. At school, there was always the competition to be the best: best of the class, best in sports, best friend... second best was not enough. And because I have always been terrible at sports and I wasn't very popular with classmates I opted for trying to be the best of the class, which rapidly proved to be harder than I expected. There were just too many other kids better than me in almost every field. Except for English and Poetry, in which I did very well... but was never the best. At home, like in many other homes, if things weren't done the way that they had to be done, there were always consequences. Mistakes were always reprimanded, there were never lessons to be learnt from erring.
All this culture of intolerance to errors affected my personal and professional life for many years to come. Whenever I did something, it had to be done to perfection. If not, the first one to punish myself was me. And believe me, I can be my worst enemy. And if I didn't foresee a positive outcome, I just wouldn't pursue the task. I was never the risk-taker, at least not in my professional life. It wasn't until I joined that company that I discovered the beauty in making mistakes. You do, you err, you learn, you repeat, you succeed.
In just a few years, my co-workers and I took that local brand with a very niche clientele from a 60-employees company with stores just nationwide to a multinational company operating a global brand with presence in 80 countries at that time. And to do that, you not only need committed people who believe in your project and who bleed the colours of your brand. You need people who aren't afraid of making mistakes. You need people who understand that erring and learning is the path to success. You need people who feel safe working in an environment where recovering from failing is more appreciated than never have failed at all.
Now that I am a freelancer I still try to do things to perfection from the beginning because erring can be more expensive when you are on your own. But I have learnt that if I want to get somewhere I have to take risks and I mustn't fear mistakes. There is no growth in playing it safe.
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