For several summers during high school, I worked for my dad at his landscape lighting business. The job took place outside in the 100 degree heat and stifling humidity. I dug ditches, I dug holes, I buried wire, I installed lights and I crawled into cramped spaces under houses. There was rarely a time that I wasn't sweaty and dirty. It was a long slog to get through those days and I would finish each one completely exhausted. Instead of playing basketball or hanging out with my friends who didn't have jobs, I was toiling away in the summer sun. Of course, I couldn't see it at the time, but those summers were teaching me the value of hard labor. Without question, my current work ethic was shaped and formed by getting up every day to go do something very difficult. Today, I love the challenges hard work brings.
But, while that all sounds great, what I've come to realize is that I tend to work hard on the stuff that I'm comfortable with. I work on things that I pretty much already know how to do. There's something in my head that convinces me that I should be a "natural" at everything and that if I have to work hard to get better at something, maybe I should avoid it all together.
As an example, I've started interviewing guests for an upcoming podcast I'm launching in March. On the surface, it looks easy... you ask them questions, they answer, you ask them another question. Unfortunately, that's not the case. To create something compelling that people actually want to listen to, you have to think through the narrative, figure out where you're going to start and where you hope to end, deliver questions in a clear and concise manner, listen to what the guest is saying and respond accordingly while tying to stay on topic and a million other tiny nuances. I am not naturally great at this process. I've asked questions that made no sense, forgotten what I was going to ask and fumbled over words. The temptation is to back down, to leave this job to someone else, to quit.
I mentioned the struggle to a friend and he reminded me of some insights offered by Ira Glass. Ira contends that everybody goes through this and that at the beginning, you're just not as good as you want to be. You've got great taste, but there's a gap between your taste and the quality of your work. The only solution is to keep working and to create a huge volume of work. It's hard, uncomfortable, and sometimes, just plain awkward. But, I'm convinced it's absolutely worth it. So, that's what's what I'm going to do. I encourage you to do the same.
Here's what Ira has to say: