The Most Important Lesson I Learned Designing The ONE Book
Last summer I met someone who has changed the course of my business (and my life) so positively that I still feel so much gratitude every time I think about her.
Her name is Kristen Edmiston and if you’ve been lucky enough to meet her and work with her, I’m sure you’re nodding in agreement right now when I say she is truly one of the most magical & delightful humans you’ll ever meet.
Kristen is a beautiful mix of talents and skills in the way that so many successful people are. She is a business and management consultant who started off as a pediatric critical care nurse. When I meet people like that, I instantly know they’re something special and Kristen continues to prove that with everything we do together.
We met when she was interviewing me to help her with a project she was working on. It was a BIG dream of hers and she was trying to find the right designer to bring it to life.
A New Kind of Book
Kristen wanted to design a brand new kind of workbook for creatives & entrepreneurs. Part business management guide, part creativity planner, it was going to combine so many different worlds into one, in a way that had never been done before.
It just so happened that I had been designing worksheets for myself and my family for fun, and I have been a creative entrepreneur since I was 19. It was a perfect match.
Within the first 20 minutes of conversation we both knew we were meant to work together, and with the recent announcement of The ONE Book being picked up nationally at Chapters in Canada, I think the pairing worked out better than either of us could have hoped!
But the biggest value of our time together has undoubtedly been the many lessons I’ve learned along the way. Kristen is an absolutely treasure trove of wisdom and knowledge (and if you don’t follow her and her work you must do so immediately! Instagram Website)
The lesson I’m sharing with you today is a powerful way to approach your work that can help you achieve new heights that you never dreamt of, in a way that is heartfelt and authentic.
And it’s simple: Aim for outstanding.
Aiming For Outstanding
When Kristen and I first met, she actually already had a version of The ONE Book designed and nearing completion. She was meeting with me to see if I could make a few adjustments to the visuals in order to bring the book up to a level that was really important to her…
See, Kristen in my mind is so deeply connected to the word excellence. But for a reason that has nothing to do with status, money or fame.
It’s because to her, doing outstanding, excellent work is how you honour the people you work with and for.
Doing outstanding work is when you’ve put the highest level of care into each and every detail. You’ve worked diligently from your heart, because the work you do is your service. Your love. Your offering.
This way of working demands attention to detail, a clear vision guiding the effort, and a commitment to creating at a high level all the way to the very end of the project. It is not for the faint of heart.
And yet, it’s where so much magic and success comes from.
A Rocky Start…
I hopped onto my computer to take a look at her file. I wanted to see if I could refine the design to bring it to the level she was looking for.
And after poking around a bit, my heart sank. I could tell that I wasn’t going to be able to do what she was hoping for. There was too much that I’d have to change.
I wasn’t going to be able to meet the challenge of outstanding without a complete re-do.
I came back to her with my assessment, and she has since confessed that she took it pretty hard. She had already put a lot of work, money and time into this book and now she was getting the news that she was much further from her goal than she could have imagined. She felt some feelings and fears and gave herself time to sit with it all.
And then, in a deep act of commitment to her goal, she agreed to trust me, to hire me, and work together to start completely over from scratch. (Thank you, Kristen!!!)
I told her from the beginning that what I would do, above all else, was to care deeply about her success. So together we got to work.
An Overgrown Forest of Edits
I can’t even tell you how much we poured ourselves into every little detail of this book. But I can SHOW you ONE of the rounds of edits we went through. Here is a completely hand printed version of The ONE Book that Kristen flagged with dozens and dozens of edits for me.
I came into possession of this treasure at one of our meetings as I sat down and watched her heave this onto the desk in between us. My eyes widened as I took in the task ahead of me. But then immediately I was excited to see that overgrown forest of coloured flags. (For my astrology fans, I’m a Virgo rising so this makes sense.)
Kristen’s keen eye had discovered all the places where we could make things better. Cleaner. Clearer. All I had to do was sit down, tackle each edit one by one, and get us so much closer to our goal.
The Magic of Collaboration
If creativity is magic, then collaborative creativity is BIG magic. Wonderful things can happen when people collaborate around the idea of outstanding.
The thing is: you don’t have to push each other to excel. What Kristen and I did was encourage and support each other into creating on a level that we couldn’t have achieved alone. Together we kept going, uncovering each place where there was hidden potential and adding more and more value until finally, it felt done.
And when we sent our final draft into the publisher, wouldn’t you know it? There wasn’t a single edit needed to send it off to print. A remarkable achievement!
Together Kristen and I were able to accomplish what seemed impossible, and perhaps best of all, it was FUN!
Aim for outstanding and enjoy the process of getting there. Will it take longer? Absolutely. But when you see it as a way to serve your audience or clients, it will feel so good. And others will feel it too, as all the positive feedback and success of The ONE Book keeps showing us.