Notes on a week — October 11, 2016
When did we start responding to praise and recognition with “Thanks, man?”
In an age when no one loses and everyone gets participation trophies, at a time when everyone is looking for actualization and validation, why does a compliment make us so uncomfortable?
What happened to the attitude of gratitude?
Maybe this all coincided with the mass adoption of fake-it-till-you-make-it mentalities. Perhaps it’s a byproduct of the impostor syndrome.
In any case, it’s kind of ridiculous.
“Thanks, man” is the security blanket of responses. It’s got a dash of gratitude, a splash of acceptance, and a whole heaping stink of discomfort. It also sounds disingenuous, even if it’s rarely meant that way. It’s the conversational equivalent of staring at the ground and mumbling. It’s Charlie Brown. It’s Marvin the Android. It’s this guy.
Of course Charlie Brown, Marvin the Android and Eeyore are all lovable, but they’re lovable because they fail in charming and endearing ways. At the end of the day, we may want validation, but we should want to earn it. Deep down, we all want to be Little Lebowski Urban Achievers, because proud we are of all of them.
Yes, I think in general our society has become far too comfortable with the practice of assuming we know lots about very little. Yes, I think in general our society has become far too comfortable with the practice of fake-it-till-you-make it. Yes, I think in general our society has become far too uncomfortable with the reality of being a novice or an amateur at something.
But these issues, like so many others, are all in our heads.
The next time you take an interest in something — even a passing fancy — learn everything you can about it while being careful…mindful…not to suffer from the paralysis of analysis. Develop an interest, do the research, then try it out. It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert, and 21 days to form a new neural pathway to break or establish a habit, but that doesnt mean you’re not allowed fumble your way through hours 9,999 or the days 1–20. Have the confidence to accept that we’re all growing together. As long as your path to expertise is filled with learning, vision, clear-headedness and humility, there’s nothing wrong with being confident in your lack of experience and knowledge. You’ll get there, and you’ll be better for it.
Most importantly, the next time someone offers any kind of constructive feedback [read: non-troll-like] take a half-second to discard the security blanket and just say “Thank you.”
You deserve it.
If you’re working on anything — creative, productive, self-improvement, etc. — and someone notices, it’s OK to take the compliment. You’ve actually earned it.
Odds and Ends:
- My weekly music series, Shuffle and Repeat, hit the six-month mark on Friday and I’m really proud of it. It would mean the world to me if you’d give it a listen and let me know what you think about it.
- If you enjoy it, head over to the show’s newly launched store and check out Series 1 of my merch — it not only keeps the lights on for the series every week, but 20% of everything sold goes to an incredible charity that brings music to people with neurological diseases and helps them find comfort and joy.
By the way, thanks for reading this. I’d truly appreciate it if you hit that cute little Recommend button down there and introduce me to your friends. Thanks!