Take <2 minutes to watch the above video. I’ll wait (and, while waiting, ponder how antiquated it is to call the video a “video”).
This short video has inspired – and continues to inspire – me in so many ways and influences my work significantly. Here’s what I take out of it:
Your output and your taste: it’s not uncommon for us to seek perfection in our work. We want the website’s look to be exactly as we’ve envisioned, the copy we write to deliver just the emotion we want it to, the presentation we give to land with impact, the process we create to work flawlessly. We want all of these things…but we often fall short. And – worse – we fall short while we know we are falling short. Think about that for a moment: we fall short while knowing we are falling short. Think of making the same typo over and over and over again. Heck, even as I type this post I know that it can be so much better. But they only way that it’s going to get better…
Reflection: the only way it’s going to get better is if I keep at it. But I don’t think Ira is saying we should keep at it without being reflective. After we have shipped our Art we need to look at it and get curious: what about it impressed us? What is something we wish we would have included? What would someone we admire say about what we created? What landed with our audience and what fell flat? We can certainly ask ourselves these questions while we are making it, as we become more sophisticated we will, but these questions can lead us down a dark path…
The fear and shipping: if you obsess about those questions too much on the front end, it will keep you from putting your work out into the world. Keep you from shipping. And the whole point is to get it out there, to ship. You can’t ship if you’re being too perfectionistic, too afraid, too unwilling to let go…
Huge volume of work: Ira believes in us. He knows that you cannot get good without shipping a lot. If you asked him “should I produce a lot of crappy work or just a little bit of good work?” he’d go for the “crappy work” all the time. Why? Because he knows that the work isn’t that crappy. It may not be up to your taste, but it isn’t worthless. Even it being something for you to learn on means something. But you can’t learn on it unless you get it out there.
Humility: I think this is where the real power of this video comes through. Ira has been there. If you watch the real, extended cut of this video (there’s that word again), you’d see him presenting one of his early news stories for Morning Edition or All Things Considered…and it’s pretty bad. He knows this but enthusiastically offers it up to us to say “see? See? I’m at the top of my game and I once produced bad work! And I did it for years!” That is the kind of humility that those who are comfortable with themselves can manifest. It’s incredibly powerful.
The length: it’s probably taken you longer to read this than it took you to watch the video. Such power and hope in <2 minutes. I have this video bookmarked and I watch it frequently (probably not as frequently as I should). We create such Rules around our messages and one of those Rules might be “it has to be long to be meaningful.” I think this video (!) proves that it does not.
Now that you’ve read this, watch the video one more time. What comes through to you?
When I began posting here, I went into it with a single-minded focus for shipping. And shipped I have; I’m proud of that. But after nearly two months I need to take a step back and put a reflective eye on my work…do some filtering and pontificating. So gone will be the daily posts, but I will be here weekly.
I want to thank you all for the inspiring support I have received and look forward to continuing to be a partner with you as you develop a career that matches your vision. Love to all.
Featured image credit: @Daniele Pesaresi via flickr