06: Secret of Success in Any Creative Work – Interview with Nasmira Firdous (Career Series)
Creative work requires a lot of input.
It needs passion, commitment, having the right mind-set, attitude and much more.
But as with other talents, it comes with it’s challenges and some behind-the-scenes struggles.
In this part of the Career series, you hear it from no other than a Creative person who is crafting a journey that deserves sharing. Sr. Nasmira enlightens us about how to deal with the nay Sayers, avoid stagnation and keep the right company. She also lets us in on an effective way of dealing with demotivation. Yes, even she isn’t always motivated 24/7.
Nasmira Firdous is a Nutritionist and Health Writer by profession. She is also the Head Editor and Blog Manager of Islamic Online University’s Blog. Her mini venture into the art of crochet can be seen here. Currently pursuing Bachelors of Arts in Islamic Studies from Islamic Online University, she believes in balancing deen and dunya to climb the ladder of success. She loves to string her thoughts together by writing articles that would empower Muslims with beneficial knowledge and graceful confidence, helping them become the torchbearers of Islam. A regular contributor for Productive Muslim, Habibi Halaqas, The Ideal Muslimah and Islamic Online University. Different Strokes gives a sneak peek into her world. A proud student of IOU’s Global Quran Memorization Centre, she wants complete her hifdh and implement the glorious words of Allah in her day-to-day life.
1. Masha Allah, you are able to combine several creative talents. How did it all begin?
Firstly, all praise belongs to Allah (swt) alone, without His infinite blessings and mercy, I would be nowhere! I was always drawn towards art and craft right from school days. I think it was more of nature than nurture.
Somehow, seeing different colours mix together and create masterpieces always enthralled me, and thus began my journey into canvas painting (which I do once in a while for family and friends).
Crochet, on the other hand, began in my post graduate days when I was away from home and had to stay in the university’s hostel, and friends became my second family. A very close friend of mine taught me the basic stitches of crochet, and there has been no looking back ever since, Alhamdulillah.
2. And what do you call yourself – An artist, Craftsperson or simply a Creative [person/professional]?
I would call myself a creative person, because anything that involves your creative juices which pushes you to make something unique can be classified as creativity. This need not be limited to arts and crafts.
I consider the art of writing to be a very creative venture as well given the amount of time I spend on writing articles for various websites (which has always been my first love).
So, yes, anything a person does on an individualistic level, that defines them and has their trademark style can be termed as having a “creative profession”.
3. How would you define creativity?
Creativity can be defined in many ways and what it means changes from person to person. It changes with different perspectives.
All in all, creativity is something you have within you which makes you do things differently from others. The way you present certain things is what creativity is.
4. What is your primary motivation? How do get your energy, stimulation & boost all the time?
Motivation comes in many forms and my primary motivation is the feeling of doing my best and being my best for the sake of Allah. I believe motivation is a drive which makes one perform better and work harder.
To be honest, I am not motivated and energized *all* the time, which is quite normal. When I’m down and need some picking up, I read the Quran and that helps me change my mood to become energized. It doesn’t happen overnight though… but Quran never fails me!
5. Do you ever feel bored or experience a mental block?
While crocheting or painting mental blocks are a rarity, but I do suffer from mental blocks while writing which can sometimes go on for days. Alhamdulillah, having a group of closely knit friends to encourage me and push me beyond my comfort zone has helped me to get over the mental blocks.
6. There’s a lot of talk about ‘passion’ nowadays. Do you think it is essential for creativity?
Yes, I feel one can’t achieve excellence when s/he doesn’t have the passion and drive to get going. Excitement to start something new is in-built in everyone, but it’s the burning desire and passion that can help you succeed and carve a name for yourself in any field.
Passion breeds excellence. And I don’t settle for mediocrity.
7. What has your creative work taught you about yourself?
I have been able to step out of my comfort zone in delivering content which I would have never done had I stuck to doing crochet on a personal level for family and friends alone.
8. What sort of challenges do you face in your work?
Alhamdulillah, not much.
Lack of time could be the only personal challenge I face, because more often than not, I have a lot of things running around simultaneously. Sometimes, it gets difficult to give justice to all of them, but I’m learning the art of balancing and In sha Allah hope to master it soon.
9. Do you ever feel that your work isn’t good enough?
I am my worst critic. I’m always looking for ways to make the next piece better than the previous one.
Getting amazing reviews from customers keeps me going, but I don’t let that go over my head. The moment I feel my work has reached “excellence”, I may not strive to produce something better.
So, the tiny feeling of “is it good enough” is essential to reach higher.
10. Are there general standards you strive towards or do you set your own standards?
I set my own standards, ranging from customer satisfaction to talking to them to know what exactly they like and what they don’t. Ultimately, any business big or small can run only on customers satisfaction.
I make sure the items are delivered as quickly as possible and the materials used are nothing short of excellent quality.
11. Can you share some ‘juicy success secrets’ with us?
Maintain a good rapport with your customers.
Be open to constructive criticism and work on areas where people would like to see you improve. Do not get offended when someone points out a genuine flaw. The more you listen to others, the better the chances of you improvising.
However, never let the nay Sayers or those who put you down bother you in any way.
Look at them in the eye, smile at them, chin up and keep going.
12. Are there particular habits which help you to stay on top of your creative drive?
Habits are what make a human disciplined and focused. They ensure you are on the right track in achieving your goals.
For me, creativity flows in at all times, Alhamdulillah and isn’t related to any habit. But I do preach the forming of habits as it has helped me achieve my mini goals with regards to many things in life.
13. Who are your role models; any works in particular which inspire again and again?
Crochet is an art where everyone is talented and can create masterpieces that cannot be compared with the other person. I wouldn’t prefer one over the other or call anyone my role model as such.
But in the field of business, then yes, definitely our mother Khadhija (RA) is right up there, both in terms of her business skills and character mashaAllah.
14. Is it essential to have a mentor or network of other creative minds who share your values and passion/drive?
I think it’s very important to be surrounded by people who want to achieve the best in dunya and akhira, irrespective of whether they are creative or not.
As the saying goes, if you’re an eagle don’t mingle with chickens, chickens can’t fly.
Your environment plays a major role in shaping the kind of person you are and being surrounded by people who are passionate in whatever they do is crucial in helping you move on to the next level and not stagnate.
15. What would you say to people who are still lurking behind the curtains, afraid of showcasing their work?
I would say go for it, believe in yourself and believe that you are good enough.
There is no point being a speck of sand on the floor when you can be a star that twinkles from the sky. Believe in yourself and do justice to the talent Allah (swt) has gifted you with. Put your trust in Allah and take the first step with bismillah.
16. What simple message do you have for someone waiting for the right time to get started on their creative pursuits – thinking till after graduation, marriage, retirement or when they are rich enough to quit their job?
Make the most of today, because if you’re not going to do it today, you are probably never going to do it.
Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to anyone. There is only one type of failure, and that is – not beginning at all! Every other setback that comes in your way is just a stepping stone towards success, not failure.
17. Give some practical tips to help develop one’s own creativity?
Check out what you really like doing and jot them down on a piece of paper. Try a few of them to see which one really works for you, which one helps you de-stress, which one helps you enjoy.
And begin! Never feel shy to showcase your individuality.
18. Does the Ummah really need creativity, any big deal to it?
We again go back to the basic question of what exactly creativity is. Since we all have a different understanding of what creativity is, it is difficult to assess this question. We need creativity to move forward, to spread Islam, to inculcate Islamic values in Muslims, to get rid of cultural issues etc…
But is it really a big deal?
For me, yes, it is. But again, I cant make a generalized statement for the entire Ummah because everyone isn’t endowed with a creative and funky mind. Some like being creative, some like sticking to the “tried and tested” recipes in life, and everyone is successful in their own way.
Make the best of your time and good health.
Be in constant communication with Allah and ask Him to guide you in anything you want to do.
Treat ease and difficulty in business or personal life as blessings from Allah. Get closer to Him and be close to His Book. Purify your intentions to seek His pleasure and strive for excellence.
And yes, don’t forget to wear a smile on your face at all times.
Jazakallah khair for interviewing me.
Wa iyyaki, it’s my pleasure.