I was back to work on Monday for exactly three hours when a gigantic order from a new Japanese customer rolled in. An order big enough that it caused me consternation and concern, rather than a sense of joy and elation. I immediately had this feeling of, "I will never be able to fill this order." It's a monster: sprawling, huge, covering all my weak spots (cake stands), and demanding to be fed with an endless supply of birds, cherry blossoms, and bell jars. As I typed in the order and watched the number at the bottom of the invoice grow and grow, my dread deepened. Part of my reaction stems from my experience with the five-figure order two years ago. I really think that I am scarred from that experience and I now I have a post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms when I get a big order.
But I also have to acknowledge that I really messed up that order myself. Mistake number one: procrastination. I have a leftover habit from college of putting off important things because I like to work under pressure. I was one of those students spitting out big papers hours before they were due, and I liked it like that. Unfortunately working under pressure in ceramics does not yield the same brilliant results. After I wrote up the overwhelming order, I immediately broke it down into its smaller parts, assessing all the pieces I would have to make and assemble. Then I got on the phone with Hector, my man at the factory, and laid it all out to him. He called me back within hours with a delivery schedule, and then I broke down the order further into a production schedule for myself.
I feel a bit sad for myself that success has started making me nervous, instead of happy. Maybe everyone feels this way when faced with a mountain to climb. But I've also decided that there is to be no whining. I've gotten myself organized, I'm assembling my troops. I'm determined to make this order a better experience, and someday-- maybe soon-- when I get an overwhelming order again I'll be able to jump up and down and clap my hands with joy.