Go on, get criticised

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During my first weekend back in Australia, I wrangled the time to catch up with a friend. Over lunch, she made a comment that kicked off a stream of thoughts I’ve been wanting to post about for a while. Her comment was actually in relation to this blog you’re reading now. She mentioned I had sent out a post a few weeks before that had really obvious typos and grammatical errors in it. It seemed she was almost embarrassed for me… that some words I put my name to had gone out into the world unpolished. I admitted to her that I often write late at night, publish without another’s once over or edit, and that my intention was to simply produce. After all, I put together ~15 posts in the last month across The Fetch and my own blog alone. While I don’t want to get too bogged down in the specifics of this interaction, I think this provides a fantastic reminder for your journey to doing.

This journey starts with… putting stuff out there. To do, you need to put stuff out there. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been using physical fitness as an analogy for getting stuff done. You can’t go straight from being borderline obese to running marathons. It takes a lot of work and savvy habit hacking and formation. You start by walking around the block, cutting out certain kinds of foods, taking the stairs and become aware of what you need to do to keep going. The same goes for your professional lives – in this case, I need to put crap blog posts (or poorly edited ones) out there frequently to improve. I would also never have had the opportunity to grow a promising professional community in The Fetch if we didn’t put sub-optimal stuff out there to begin with. Heck, the first digest I sent in Melbourne had yellow links. Yes, YELLOW eye-watering links.

There’s a concept that’s referred to in the creative industries, mostly in music and television, called Old Shame. It’s when you’re mortified by your previous work: think naive albums, clunky lyrics, cheesy movie parts, bad fashion. I continually have old shame by my earlier productions – but this is great as it means I’ve evolved. I could delete older work but instead I embrace it. I’ve left the first marketing-focused blog I published aka The Zeitgeists on the web for years (which never ceases to draw close pal Eddie a good yet loving laugh).

And yet, like many of my points, it often comes back to lean (startup) methodology. Your work should be small, continuous iterations towards a goal with plenty of testing. If I never published a post for fear of errors, I would still be at the starting point without any feedback or reception from my readers. Frequent publishing allows me to see what’s interesting and useful to people, and what’s not. So, remember:

“If you are not criticised, you may not be doing much.” ~Donald Rumsfeld

11 thoughts on “Go on, get criticised

  1. Nice reminder to get on with our stuff and over procrastination and fluffing around the details. Risk assessment, fine; perfection, forget it! we’re not divine .. not yet, anyway :)

    +61(0)418683166 Sent from my iPhone

  2. I’ve had conversations with you about this, but I’m surprised how often it has come up with others of late. For me, the process of writing is just as important as the end product. This is the same for any kind of creation – or doing – for most people. Doing something is the point, not doing it perfectly. Love your work KK.

  3. I almost feel that people criticizing grammar is people’s ways of saying “Ah! Why is this person trying to do something unique and new with your life! Get back in line!” Maybe I’m crazy.

    I recently started shipping new versions of my app to testers everyday and my productivity has risen because of the challenge presented in having a shippable product every single day. GREAT write up.

  4. Agree, Kate. I apply this theory to most things, writing, analytical ideas, and especially to cooking. The only reason I’m a better cook than a lot of people is because I have applied myself for longer, and have been willing to throw something together to see if it works until it does. It’s also why I’ve proved a bad fit for the public service, where they are terrified of public perceptions (‘sensitivities’) – no wonder innovation is hard in the government, hey?

  5. Love it Kate. It we all waited for perfection before launching nothing would ever happen. Let me know when you’re back in Sydney – would love to grab a coffee and chat.

  6. You write real good, Kate, great post.

    I birthed my first book this week. It’s not perfect but it reminded me of when I first started my blog; get the darn thing out then refine it… I love getting feedback

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