You come to me frowning.
Why do I keep compromising my vision? you ask. I have this idea in my head and it’s bold and glorious and world-shaking, but then when I make it… something happens. Something goes wrong. And what comes out is wishy-washy and mediocre and ordinary and Bleh.
“What’s your ratio of terror to excitement?”
About four parts terror to six parts excitement?
“Well, that’s a tiny bit higher than I recommend – my favourite ratio is three parts terror to seven parts excitement, so the excitement is more than double the terror – but it’s not impossibly high. How confident are you that you can deliver the undiluted vision of your work?”
Well right now not very, ’cos I keep compromising! But when I plan it it feels very doable. Y’know, a stretch, but a good one.
“Okay, that’s cool. Then my biggest question: How much do you trust the intended audience for this?”
How much… do I trust them?
“Yep. How much do you trust them to understand what you’re doing, and react in the right ways, and appreciate the value of it. How much do you trust them to applaud in the right places and laugh at your jokes.”
Oh. Yikes. I… don’t know? I can feel my pulse speeding up just thinking about it. I would say, “Not very much.” That’s a bad sign, isn’t it?
“’fraid so, jellybean. I think it’s the number one reason I see people compromising their vision – they don’t have enough faith in their audience’s ability to appreciate it.”
Is the problem me, or the audience?
“Possibly both. But they’re both your problems, anyway.”
Excuse me? you say, mock affronted.
“Well, there’s two potential problems here. Either you have the perfect audience for your best vision, in which case not trusting them is your issue to deal with… or you don’t have the right audience yet, which is also your problem to deal with.”
Oh. Yeah, I guess. I think I have a mix? Some people who would really love this… they’re the ones I was thinking about when I planned it. But also some who just totally won’t get it. If I think about them, I want to tone it down.
“Awesome self-awareness! So there’s a couple of things you can do. One is to do the marketing work to attract more of the People Who Get It, and to gently shoo away the others. The other thing is to do the internal work to build up your faith around a few key beliefs.”
Faith workouts? Pump up my belief muscles?
“Exactly! Here are the beliefs you have to strengthen:
1. My work is enough. And so am I.
2. There are enough people in the world who will reallytrulydeeply appreciate and support my vision.
3. The world is poorer every time I compromise my vision.
4. I am not here to cater to the People Who Don’t Get It.
5. The kindest thing I can do for the People Who Don’t Get It is to set them free so they can find their right people.
6. And the easiest way to do that is to deliver my work at full strength.
7. I am brave, and I trust my audience. I trust that they exist, and they love my work. I trust their intelligence, and I trust their intentions.
When all of those beliefs are strong, it’s much much easier to be bold and confident.”
I can’t prove these things, so I have to take them on faith?
“Pretty much. When you do it and succeed, you gain some evidence that there are enough people to support your vision. But next time you create a vision, it’ll always be new enough that you need to have faith again.”
So this never gets easy?
“Not so far as I’m aware. But it gets easier.”
Any more advice?
“If this is dizzyingly scary, start small. One tiny, bijou vision instead of a revolution. You can scale up as you get more resilient.
And I always recommend going faster than your fear can catch up with. That’s how I made my first ever product.”
Okay, thanks. Can you do me a favour?
Say the words?
“Of course. Now go forth and ROCK IT THE FUCK OUT.”
We high five and you stride away. You don’t see it, but I’m smiling proudly as you go.
Have you found ways to deliver your vision without compromise? Share them in the comments!