By Trent Rentsch
So, it’s been one of those days. Woke up late, forgot breakfast, spilled my first cup of coffee on my shirt, computer crashed, spilled second cup of coffee on my pants during re-boot, cat got out when I went home for lunch, burned the roof of my mouth ON lunch, cat got out again as I was heading back to work, computer crashed again, spilled my 14th cup of coffee all over my shirt and pants… Hot! Hot! Hot!!
And then there was work. Oh yes, it lived up to its name today. Or perhaps I didn’t live up to my potential. At this point, the blame is less important than the struggle. Hours searching for the “perfect” music bed that never appeared, words that refused to shuffle together to make a decent piece of copy (or 5), revisions of work I was actually fairly happy with, mixes that just, well, didn’t… oh, and don’t get me started on voice-over today! Whine! Whine! Whine!!
I suppose it was bound to happen. Things have been going fairly well lately. Home, work, all good… great, in fact. This always happens when I quit looking. I get cocky and think I’ve turned a corner; that I can let down my guard and simply enjoy my Creative life. Then, BAM!! The house of cards tumbles and I stumble to the end of the day, angry and frustrated. Ack! Ack! Ack!!
And now, a brief intermission from the pity party. Did I ever tell you about the Gambler’s Fallacy? It’s a simple truth that nearly single-handedly keeps the casino doors open in Vegas. The fallacy is this… repeat a totally random game long enough, and a pattern will appear, allowing a savvy player to “know” future outcomes and beat the house. Here’s a simple example… a coin is flipped 10 times, landing on heads each time. The Gambler’s Fallacy would lead you to believe that the odds are now greater on the 11th flip that the coin will land on tails. The fact is, you could land on heads 10,000 times in a row, and on flip 10,001 your odds would still be 50-50 for tails. Now think about the American roulette wheel, with 38 possible “pockets” for the ball to land in… if you were about to bet on a single number, and you had memorized the order of the numbers the ball had landed on in the last 20 spins, do you think you’d have a better idea of which number to bet on? Despite the insistence of the Gambler’s Fallacy, the answer is NO. Random means random, there is no magic formula. Yes, some odds are better than others, but they always, ALWAYS land in favor of the house. You might win, you might lose, but casinos know that as long as you believe that there is some mystical lady luck who might blow you a kiss at the right moment and make you a millionaire, you’re gonna keep on playing… and ultimately, losing. Boo! Hoo! Hoo!!
Oddly enough, I find all of this a bit comforting, especially on a day like today. Many of us operate in the grip of a “Life Fallacy.” It’s a “bad day,” so “everything is going to go wrong.” Or, “things have been good for too long,” and “the other shoe is going to drop at any moment.” Gloom! Despair! Agony!!
Here’s the truth. You’re going to Create something. It either works or it doesn’t. The client is going to like it or dislike it, run it immediately or make revisions. It doesn’t matter if you stubbed your toe on the tub or the cat barfed on your shoes or some numbskull cut you off in traffic. When it comes down to it, the only thing allowing these events to culminate into a “bad day,” is you. Shame! Shame! Shame!!
I find that on “a day like this,” it’s important for me to more intently focus on the project at hand, shut out everything that was and everything else that needs to be done. If I’m not present in the moment, giving all my attention to what I’m Creating, I’m going to make mistakes, and add fuel to my “bad day fire.” Think! Think! Think!!
Life happens. Good stuff, bad stuff. You can’t control the thoughts of your clients/PD’s/spouses/anybody. What you CAN do is deal with each Creative challenge as it comes, and be present in the moment to make the best choices and do the best work you can without the weight of an imaginary bad day. This isn’t some self-help pop psychology; it’s a Creative Survival technique. Go! Fight! WIN!!