When you’re not killing it
This post by well-known DJ and producer Tiga popped up on my Facebook feed last weekend.
There’s a lot packed in to just a few sentences: ego, aloofness, self-deprecation, humility.
Tiga’s post got a huge response. This was likely in large part due to his sizeable fanbase as well as his eloquence, but it was also because of its rarity. You just don’t see people in the entertainment business talking this way very often.
I really respect him for sharing his off-night publicly but it made me think this kind of thing shouldn’t make such a large impact.
It should be seen as… well, normal.
None of us like to admit we were wrong, we failed, or we just didn’t perform well. This is especially uncomfortable when it’s concerning our trade, profession, or something else we hold close as part of our identity. It makes us feel vulnerable and questions our value. But we should do so more often.
Whether by coincidence, fate or the law of attraction, a series of tweets by the author James Clear got my attention the very same day as I saw Tiga’s disclosure.
The 15-tweet thread also includes:
The results of success are usually public and highly visible, but the process behind success is often private and hidden from view.
When your screen is filled examples of the strongest, richest, and smartest, it’s easy to overvalue the outcome & undervalue the process.
I believe a lot of us are guilty of this. I know I am.
However, I’d extend this message to cover the process that leads to both success and failure.
Recently I’ve been investing time into building web apps using Ruby on Rails. I’ve been following a few video tutorials to help me build ropey clones of Reddit, Pinterest and several other of your favourite websites.
Where I’ve learnt the most is by failing (i.e. my app throwing an error or some kind). I have to rewind the video, re-trace my steps a few times over, and find out what caused the error before trying to fix it.
It’s slow and painstaking but the process towards understanding failure makes me more likely to either fix it more quickly in future or avoid it completely.
A web developer known as Levels (who has a pretty sizeable cult following) recently took this a step further by documenting an entire startup build via broadcasting it on Twitch.
Maybe the process isn’t very pretty to watch in its entirety, but making an impressive outcome more transparent enables others to learn, develop and get comfortable with failing and making mistakes. We can better respect and understand the process, rather than just marvelling at or dismissing the outcome. It encourages us to appreciate the practice and sometimes even think ‘I could do that’.
I believe we’ll see transparency around the process appear more in everyday life — from the way food is produced to how laws and legislation comes to pass.
Where this transparency may have the most fascinating impact is in the creative industries.
A lot of people in this area seem to be very afraid of opening up the process rather than just showing off the (selected) results. A previous post of mine touched on this in a slightly different but connected context — hunkering down or fronting up.
By being transparent we may expose some of our tricks of the trade, but to paraphrase an old adage “it’s what you do with it that counts”.
We now have platforms taking us inside the processes to learn to play video games, code websites and even build houses.
Maybe the world’s top DJs could take us deeper inside their process: away from the selfies, hotel suites and big tracks dropping at a festival; to the filtering and preparation of the music, the practice and honing of the craft, and knowing where, how and why they may have made mistakes along the way.
Despite what may show on the surface we all have times when we’re not killing it, whether as a rookie starting out or as a seasoned professional.
Openly sharing and learning from each others’ mistakes will improve our aptitude, help us find new ways of doing things, and relieve some of the status anxiety that’s everywhere around us in an connected age when we only measure outcomes rather than valuing the process.
After all — we’re only human, right?