Tuesday, January 13, 2009

fuck confidence.

It is the usual fear/depression ridden post-holiday season.

The weather is shit.

It was shit before, but all the lights and christmas trees and menorahs are now conspicuously absent as is the cheer. I think most of us are now tired of our gifts which have become merely something more we own, and we have to face the results of the orgy of consumerism. I still have that visa bill to open... I’m giving myself another day or so...

As with the weather, my mood is also shit.

Recently, I have been working. When I mean working, I mean leaving our little home and going to somewhere else where there are almost zero distractions.

Zero distractions are good for me. I believe I probably would get more done in life if I lived in a hippy commune or a monastery. I wouldn’t be happy though. Happiness trumps getting things done every time. Admittedly, I do feel enormously happy when things are done too... sometimes I’m complex.

I was editing a demo about a boxer. For those not living in artsy fartsy Mile End or the world of filmmaking, a demo is a short video about a project that a filmmaker would like to do, but requires more money to do and thus must show various funding agencies and production companies what she/he intends to do with the project, thus convincing them that have the money, to part with it.

So that was my task. The work was good. I did learn a lot. But as with all learning comes the beating that the ego receives.

‘You’re still a neophyte editor – don’t feel bad... You’re technical skills need improving.... Why did you do that?... In other work places this would be unacceptable... You’d probably be fired or something...’

I’m paraphrasing some of that. I’m very fond of my producer. To be fair to both of us, he is an experienced producer/director, and I am a relatively new editor. I am very aware that I have much to learn and accept that much of what he said, though unnecessary to verbalize, was true.

Essentially the message was that I lacked confidence.

It’s that word... confidence, that currently pisses me off. I will come down with great fury on the next person that suggests I need more confidence, self or otherwise.

It is not that I lack the knowledge, or that my skills preclude me from finishing tasks. It is that I wish not to pretend knowing things when I do not. Other people think of this as a lack of confidence; I see it as honesty. The terminology gets a little murky here. What I hear referred to as confidence sounds more like arrogance... and I fear arrogance. It is a most dangerous trait.

If I tell someone that I do not know something, but that I will endeavor to find out, that is not me being meek, that is me being my honest self. I do have every confidence that with a reasonable amount of time, I will find the right answer. With experience, the time required to answer correctly will drop.

In the fast pace of today (everyone seems to think that the ‘today’ is fast paced – when wasn’t it?) an answer, whether right or wrong is what is required. Bosses will push for an answer. They generally don’t want to hear ‘Give me a minute and I’ll get back to you’ or ‘I’m not sure. I will look into it and find the correct answer.’

Imagine a lowly intelligence analyst working away in some dungeon of an office wondering when he/she will have a desk next to a window, getting a phone call demanding an immediate answer.

Big boss: ‘That photo I’m looking at taken by a satellite... that looks like trucks full of nerve gas, right?’

Lowly analyst: ‘I’m not sure, sir. Perhaps, but I’ll need to look into it some more. We really need a better angle on this to know, cause it might just be a fuel truck...’

Big boss: ‘What the hell?! Don’t you have any confidence? Come on, show us what sort of an education you’ve got, college boy. Gimme an answer. That’s what we pay you for, isn’t it?’

This is probably how the latest Gulf War started; an unreasonable demand for instant answers. How about a ‘I’m confident that I’m not sure.’ Would that wildly speculated conversation have led to more reasonable decision?

Most of us don’t have daily decisions that have that sort of historical impact (mistake). Most of us have jobs that have the same level of stress artificially induced by assholes who having read the latest management book to hit the best seller list think being bold and demanding is the ultimate sign of leadership and that results matter more than the manner in which the results were achieved. [Again, I must note that my producer is a friend and not actually an asshole... most of the time. This paragraph does not actually apply to him in any way.]

The sad truth is that we all have to contend with the notion of instant answer, instant results... no one has patience anymore, it seems. The pressure to perform, ironically, tends to come from those who cannot perform themselves.

We should all slow down a bit and realize that the correct answer is more important than just any answer.

And I have to realize that learning is not always fun and nearly always results in some level of ego bruising. I’m alright though. Someone called last night, and told me I did good. And the producer thanked me too. Tomorrow will likely be a better day.

1 comment:

french panic said...

weird. I just wrote about the problems I have with time. It's like we were thinking similar thoughts or like we live and work together. or something.