He pressed the Play button on the VCR and I scrunched forward in my chair, eager to see and share the final edit of my piece with the class. An off-center title appears, and then the picture comes on with sound out of sync, a fast cut to another scene, and back to the original scene. I watch with growing horror as my 46 straight hours of work shows up as a complete disaster on-screen.
The edit on the screen appeared to be from early in my 6-hour editing slot. Not the final edit that I had created with my editor.
I felt tears well up. My brain was in high gear as I bemoaned my fate and began a spiral of embarrassment and defending.
Suddenly, the instructor, Greg Ruzzin, was right in front of me, his gaze intense as he spoke soft and furious.
“That’s not what this is about. You better love this process and not
the outcomes or find another line of work.”
I stopped. Tears forgotten. The class moved on but I still remember that moment with crystal clarity. That was the sound of little old me growing up.
Out of context that might sound a bit harsh, but in reality it was one of the best and most influential pieces of advice I’ve ever been given. It’s a rare moment when someone steps out of the usual and interacts that directly.
An inveterate people pleaser, that moment gave me the opportunity to start living my work and heading toward finding process and people that I loved rather than going after approval and praise for the results of that work.
One more time
Today, after hours of writing what was to be the culmination of 3 months of tweaking, my "big” post shattered into a pile of shiny little pieces.
And so, as I begin picking those pieces up and reassembling them once again, I’ll be remembering this moment and celebrating that sometimes to make a more powerful mosaic you have to break a lot of pots, all mudpies are beautiful and spaghetti on the walls might surprise you with the delightful patterns it creates whether it sticks or not.
When good outcomes happen, yea! When they don’t, yea! It’s time to return my attention to enjoying where I’m at and what I’m doing. Luckily, I certainly do love this writing process. Look what cool stuff it brought me today.
How do you remind yourself to stop worrying about the outcome and pay attention to what's right in front of you? How do you pick yourself up and keep going when things don’t turn out how you thought they would in your work and life?