Epic Fail

From Ev Bogue:

The intention to be epic gets in the way of doing work. I know this, because I’ve tried to be epic. In the middle of the year, I decided I was only going to show up if I had something brilliant, inspirational, or ground-shattering to share or publish. I showed up rarely. When I did show up, what I wrote didn’t land as well as I thought it would. After my digital sabbatical for the month of July, I made a rule. I have to show up, no matter what. I’ll experiment every day. Even if what I write is boring, at least I showed up. What I found is sometimes the most mundane things I shared have touched people. Yes, this doesn’t mean I’m being epic every day. But life isn’t all epic. Everything I think will be epic usually isn’t. The reality is this: trying to be epic all of the time gets in the way of doing the work.¨

So I show up instead.

Part of hitting publish with even a moderate level of frequency is accepting that you will inevitably read some of your own work and cringe. As much as we might want to, we can’t be “on” all the time, we can only try to be. Part of getting better and part of creating requires occasionally being worse. Experiments fall flat, you were careless or you just had a bad day, but at some point you’re likely to “fail.”

You want to ask yourself, “Is it good enough?” You want to take the time to edit and you should do everything you can to publish something you’re proud of, but we are often our worst critics. As Ev says, the thing we hate, will often be the piece that connects. The opposite unfortunately often proves to be true as well, you’ll think you nailed it, but the words just don’t connect.

It also takes time to get good with any level of consistency. If you’re new to creating, doing great work isn’t something you’re going to excel at right away and for those of us who choose to do our work in public, it will occasionally haunt us.

More often than not, it isn’t a question of quality, it’s a matter of doubt. You’re looking for a reason to finally convince yourself that you’re not good enough. You’re looking for a reason to quit. Creating is hard. In fact, for those of us who aren’t adept at it, it’s damn near impossible.

Don’t try to be epic; just work hard enough to make something that is. Take Ev’s advice and show up as often as you possibly can. Do it frequently enough and one of these days you may make something that surprises you. Speaking of, if you aren’t subscribing to his brief, yet inspiring daily newsletter, you’re missing out.

As long as you’re striving (and working damn hard) to create high-quality, relevant work for your audience, you’ll never really fail. Accept that you’re in the process of improving and embrace the fact that some of what you share will miss the mark. At the end of the day, there’s only one real failure for those looking to create and that’s is not making anything at all.

2 Responses to Epic Fail

  1. Being consistent trumps being Epic. I have learned this through my own inconsistency. I’m somewhat forced by circumstances to lean on the whole Epic thing a bit too much. But one huge side effect of that is the pressure you’ll put on yourself to get to that level on demand.

    But real life doesn’t work that way. Nor does making a living, not to even speak of making a great living or a small fortune. Apple doesn’t revolutionize the smart phone every day. Nor have they truly since the iPhone first came out. They just keep on selling iPhones, and occasionally make people who think the current model they have would be even better in the next version.My struggle this year has been to learn the lesson of doing a little each day instead of saving up to do something ground-breaking once a year. Because, as you said, some of the simplest, most meager efforts you make are going to change someone else forever. So you might as well just share it all, and suffer the many cringes.

    • They may not revolutionize the phone every day, but they are certainly iterating it all the time. That’s the approach I try to take, constant iterative improvement. Thankfully people like you and me can cringe and keep moving, because my version of iteration looks nothing like Apples :)

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