As Brad mentioned in his introduction to this months theme: fear is an emotion we must face daily. Deadlines, workloads, project managers, tedious tasks, and especially cutting footsteps are all points of emotional friction dealt with by many of us to some degree or another. There is also a more intangible yet just as insidious form of fear we have to control: the fear of the unknown.
A great piece of advice I got at the start of one big project was to not worry so much about the looming workload and deadlines; as it was never as bad as my mind was expecting it to be. That is not to say there isn’t the possibility of it being worse, and certainly people have gone through hell. But the advice has panned out pretty well so far. The assumed death marches were not quite as marchy as I thought (was still shitty, but thats a topic for another Sunday Sound Thought).
Workloads and deadlines are things typically out of our control. The fear that I really worry about and we can control is the fear that keeps us from growing, the fear of the unknown and the fear of taking the time to know it. Conscious or subconscious there can be a tendency for a mentality of: “well I know everything there is to know about the job, so I don’t need to learn anything new”. This mentality can be caused by old/young age, or personality, or success….. or a triple-threat if you’re really unlucky to work with the person.
Working in tech-focused media means that stagnation is professional death. Not taking the time to fully understand how a new tool you use works because “I’ve done this before, I know what I’m doing” or “the way I did it before worked fine so whatever” could have a chance to backfire. I myself am finding out stuff about Wwise functionality on a new project I wish I would have taken the time to dig into and understand better on a previous project. It would have made my life a bit easier then, but I can take that knowledge and make the next thing that much better now.
The fear of not learning a new thing may not be malicious. “I already know X , I don’t want to waste time on Y”. It could be “what I know about Y leads me to believe it is inferior to X”. I want to try to build time into iteration and learning when possible, because Y might be the only way in a few years and if your resume only says X, your career might start seeing a bunch of Z’s. Or in a more basic sense: Y just might be way cooler.
The fear of not having enough time to learn or failing at finding anything useful is a dumb kind of fear in my opinion. Failing to find anything useful is success in its own way because now you know and knowing is half the battle**. And that’s worst case. Best case is you have new knowledge, techniques, abilities, insight, respect, friendship, understanding, ideas, and whatnot: depending on the unknown noun.
I try to be mindful of any prejudice I might have about something I don’t know fully. Be it software (we all like to hate on Fruity Loops, but people are making good stuff with it), or age (I have been schooled in technical things by those older and younger than me just this past week) or even discipline: non-audio people have great ideas and are worth collaborating with about sound, and great and applicable stuff can come from audio people in other forms of media–as long as you take the time to listen. Just look at how positional audio from VR and non-VR games is informing VR tech in the cinematic space.
I’m not saying anything new or profound. A quick takeaway from this article might be “it’s worth taking the time to learn because what is being taught is probably different and more useful than what you assumed” or it might be “Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know everything and don’t be afraid to take the time to learn something”. Let’s go with the second since it mentions fear and I want to tie it into my dope Dune reference in the title.*
“As has come before; many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…Please bear with us as we traverse the abstract canals of audio musings.” -Designing Sound
*Or is it a Rez reference?