Tackle Adversity

Ask anyone who’s been around the profession for any length of time, and they will tell you that overcoming adversity is probably the most difficult skill you will ever master.

Be tenacious in the face of adversity.

Unfortunately, it’s not a skill they teach you in school. It’s a painful process and something you must learn on your own.

I find that in our profession, adversity takes many forms.

Most everyone knows that the last few years have been extremely challenging for landscape architects. The recession hit our industry particularly hard, and many landscape architects have been laid off at least once, if not more.

Having just finished my term as the vice president for our state ASLA chapter, I have met many landscape architects in our state, and while most have managed to survive the downturn in the economy with their jobs intact, I have met quite a few who have not been so fortunate.

Some of my colleagues, including myself, have had to modify their careers to stay employed. I’ve navigated the world of environmental planning and have developed a diverse set of skills that will serve me well for a long time.

I have met others in the same situation. They have had to take on consulting roles as independent contractors, find second jobs outside of the field, or find jobs in related fields.

A few of my friends have found jobs with industry partners and now are representing and selling the landscape products that we specify in our plans.

While we all do what we have to in order to make ends meet in the short term, eventually we all hope the market will return and we can start designing once again.

When I think of other forms of adversity that we face, I would be remiss if I did not include not winning a project.

Lately, it feels as if I have poured my heart and soul into the last few Requests for Proposals (RFPs) we have submitted, only to not win the project.

Someone once said, “The only thing worse than not winning is coming in second.” I can relate to this in so many ways.

With a number of RFPs being released in the last few months, it gives me hope that the economy is starting to improve. However, it seems like every firm in our city is pursuing these same projects and the competition is fierce. Many companies are severely under-bidding the competition in order to win the work.

While I don’t subscribe to this philosophy for a number of reasons, after losing the last few projects because of price, it can become difficult to stay positive and not let discouragement creep into the dark reaches of the mind.

I am fortunate that my parents instilled in me a strong work ethic and taught me the value of perseverance. I will stay positive, and I know things are getting better.

Have you lost your job during this recession? How do you deal with discouragement and adversity in your practice? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great weekend!

Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on twitter at @CDGLA or email: bcoleman001@gmail.com