I’m a fairly good barber. You can judge for yourself: Instagram . I know most of my technical faults, or most of them that I can improve on, but there are a few areas that I struggle in when it comes to my mental game.
NEVER TRUST AN ARTIST
I’ve always had this saying, “Never trust a barber that says they’re an artist.” I’ve said this for a long time, because when I was younger I worked with some people that would brag about how artistic they were, and I noticed that they never listened to their customers, because they thought their ideas were better than their customers.
In truth, they would cut one haircut that they loved over and over on everyone, because that was how they were artistically inclined. I found them pretentious, and I’ve always been about the service part of this job anyways, not the “I’m way too cool for you” attitude part of it.
I do understand that that attitude works for some people, but I’ll always side on great service and a fantastic haircut. I like the customers that like that way of thinking as well, they’re a lot more chill.
I’m older now, and if someone calls me an artist, I go along with it. The definition of artist is, “A person skilled at a particular task or occupation,” and I fit that definition. We are sculpting all day long, so why not take a compliment and run with it.
But, you see, I’ve been struggling with my own ego lately, so I’m wondering whether or not I’m falling into the category of the people I despised so much at one point.
I’m working in a small city, and there are times when I find the haircuts that I cut day-to-day flat, or boring, or I judge the taste of the person in my chair as boring, or uninformed.
I have another saying that I say quite often, “Sometimes I’m paid for my expert opinion and sometimes I’m paid to ignore it.” I know that working in a barbershop I won’t always get to cut ‘fun’ cuts, or technically challenging cuts that I enjoy seeing, or I know will fit that client. Sometimes someone wants something so badly that they’ll pay me to ignore sixteen years of training.
When someone asks for something a little bit different, I wade in, and I love the challenge of taking a cut apart in my head and assembling it on someone’s head, navigating disturbance areas (cowlicks and crowns), hair texture, and the guest’s personality all at the same time.
I can get pretty angry sometimes when I’m not feeling challenged, or when I feel that everyone that is sitting in my chair has horrible taste.
So how do I deal with my big ugly ego when it flares up?
Well, the first thing I have to do is wait for it to calm down. This can take fifteen seconds, an hour, a day, or a week depending on how much I’m feeling it. With practice, the amount of time that this takes is a lot less than it used to be.
Still, there are days, weeks, months when I live with this facet of my personality for a long while, and I always struggle in my everyday routine when it happens.
I think this fit of ego flares up when I am disinterested and unhappy with my life in general. It can be any number of things, even the fact that I’m not adding my personal opinion about a customer’s hair into the conversation enough.
These days, I am more aware of how I deal with my inner ‘monster’. I can take a mental step back and remind myself that this person is paying me to cut their hair the way that they want it. In the end, the service isn’t about me, it is about the person walking out and being satisfied with the way that I cut their hair.
Hopefully I come to the other side without creating too much chaos and conflict with my customers, but I am sure that if I even have the tiniest fluctuation in mood, it is off-putting to everyone that I come into contact with.
Secondly, I have to admit to the fact that I’m being entitled, expecting that every head of hair that I cut will be ‘interesting’.
Part (the non-ego part) of me believes that barbering should be about the customer, but the other part of me (the ego part) doesn’t understand it when someone asks for something (to push their hairline back, to shave off their crown while keeping five inches at the hairline, to texturize curly and frizzy hair) that I know will make the haircut less aesthetically pleasing.
I attempt to teach people, but sometimes I’m confronted with an client’s ego, and when that happens I generally step back and give them what they want, despite what I know to be better.
I’m so tired of cutting pompadours on people with super straight hair three cowlicks on their front hairline, and two crowns. It isn’t that I can’t make it look okay…it’s just that that haircut, in my mind, isn’t suitable for the hair type. I don’t understand why someone would want to wear a haircut that they have to use a hard hold product on, just to have a facsimile of what someone with much finer, more pliable hair, would wear, and a jacked up facsimile at that.
My solution to this is simple. I talk my ego down front he cliff and concentrate on delivering the best possible haircut that I can cut within the parameters that I have been given. Since I have given myself permission to step back from my frustration and anger my days have gotten subsequently better because of it.
I’m not a perfect person by any means. I have a way that I work, and I have a way that I want people to look, a way that I believe will make them the best that they can look. It has taken me a long time and a great effort to come to the point I can execute any haircut on any hair type with competency.
This doesn’t mean that every haircut that I give will vibe with the guest in my chair. They will have their own vision whether I like it or not and I’m learning to be okay with that. It is a struggle on certain days, but I’m up for the challenge, I’m okay with ‘boring’ as long as I know I executed it with precision.
That’s all for this week, thanks,
Crowbarber Barber Hacks