The Client is Always Right... Right?
Being a professional of any kind comes with a equal amounts of benefits and responsibilities. One of the largest, especially in a creative field, is the ability to say both 'yes' AND 'no'. Balancing the positive and negative in making decisions and taking action is what can take any given project and make it a masterpiece. Whether you're the designer, the developer, or the one-man-show responsible for the bigger picture, being able to add value with both positive and negative decision making is absolutely crucial to success.
The Power of the Positive
The positive is what makes being a creator such an amazing thing. "Yes, I can do that!" That idea you discussed with your friends last week for a million dollar app? Yep, can do! The client one of your contacts connected you with because they knew you had the right skills? Got it, no problem. Ideas, hopes, and dreams are ours to make true. That's a pretty epic power.
The best way value in 'yes' is using it to broaden your horizons. Accept challenges and look for opportunities. Continue to grow your skill set, so that you have the option of saying 'yes' in as many opportunities and ways as possible.
There is, however, a dark side to 'yes'. If you've been in a creative industry for long at all, you're already laughing (perhaps crying?) as memories leap involuntarily forward of these scenarios. Often it takes the shape of a client who has endless design and content updates, until the project is unrecognizable from any angle. Far too often, due to a lack of energy or the promise of an easier paycheck, we give way and simply do whatever is asked of us (up to our clearly stated contractual limit, of course). But what if there was another way?
The Value of the Negative
Say 'no'. Say it a few more times. This is one of the greatest tools in a professional's repertoire. First and foremost, it's going to make sure you aren't wasting your time on unnecessary projects, edits, or anything else that might crop up. More importantly, it's going to make sure that the work you create for those worthwhile projects is, legitimately, top notch. Saying 'no', and actually following through on meaning it, will result in one of two things.
Option One: It will prevent a project from being derailed. I've worked with a number of clients who simply through everything that popped into their heads at the wall and wanted to see what would stick. What decided the stickiness of a particular idea? Usually, me! In these cases, when I said no (for a quantifiable, explainable reason I genuinely thought was important), the client often simply moved on. They were satisfied the idea wouldn't be of use, and had no reason to harp on it.
Option Two: It will start a dialogue. Explain your reasons for answering the request/demand negatively, and see how the client responds. If they insist or want to compromise something, dig into why this point is important to them. You might learn something about the industry they work in, or together you might be able to solve the root of the actual problem in a much better way.
In the end, being able to say both 'yes' and 'no' is an invaluable tool. Add as many languages, design theories, programs, and titles as you want onto your pile, but this is one of the biggest deciding factors in how far you might go. No one ever became famous for building their own websites, for their own sake, on their own whim. Not beyond some pop-culture, one-hit-wonders anyway. We make visual and functional masterpieces to suit the needs of our clients, whatever they may be. We have the opportunity to interface with a hundred different business markets and client bases every day. What we bring to the table is "I've been there, done that, and let me tell you... it's a great/terrible idea!" Saying 'yes' and saying 'no' at the right times, in the right places, are what will make your reputation as a reliable (and thus desirable) professional.