Throughout August I’ve been working on a project that’s had me navigating a huge learning curve – one I’ve been procrastinating on for quite some time. I’ve been “uncomfortable” throughout the process and it’s made me think about both my mother-in-law and the many people over the years who’ve attended my training but weren’t able to develop a practice of picking up the phone.
What am I finding so uncomfortable? And why does it make me think of my mother-in-law and past students?
Much of the past month I’ve been focused on creating video lessons. And while I’ve had the amazing support of many people, including Linda Daley of Daley Progress, there have been numerous missteps, way more time and effort than anticipated, and the need to simply relax into learning.
It’s made me think of a situation this past winter with my mother-in-law. She was living with us at the time and had enjoyed a long phone conversation from my office with one of her sons. When she forgot the content of that conversation, knowing it was recorded, I offered to let her listen to it. I set her up at my desk, hit PLAY, and then left the room.
I came back about 10 minutes later. “How’s it going, mom?” I asked. “Are you enjoying listening to the call?”
She gave me a very quizzical look and said, “Who am I listening too?”
It hadn’t occurred to me that she had never listened to a recording of her voice. She was completely confused and as we listened together she kept saying, “Is that me?” Like most of us, she was not impressed with the sound of her own voice. It was such a distraction for her, we had to stop the recording.
Yet, listening to ourselves, or in my case, watching myself, is an essential part of our ability to learn and improve.
While there are many (many) aspects of video creation I still need to learn, continually watching myself was a huge hurdle. It hadn’t occurred to me how much time I was going to spend looking at my own face on camera. This included: a few test videos each session to check on lighting and set-up; a detailed viewing of each completed recording to note where graphics should be inserted; a detailed viewing after the first edit to make any necessary adjustments; and a detailed viewing of the final edit before uploading to a learning platform.
At the start, I kept thinking, “Is that me?” And quite frankly, I was not impressed. Like my mother-in-law listening to her voice, I was drawn only to the imperfections, allowing each one to undermine my confidence and tenacity. I had to learn to get over it. For example:
- My neck has wrinkles. While this doesn’t please me, I’m 60 and 60-year-old necks have wrinkles.
- My face can become quite red by midday, especially when it’s warm. This is unavoidable, even with great makeup. My pale-skin Irish heritage has always been front and centre.
- I often look too serious. This is part of learning to teach to a camera. I’m not (yet) as relaxed as I am in front of a group of people.
There are many more examples. But getting better at this, which I definitely want to do, demands that I keep looking at my own face.
What’s important is pushing through and pushing past. What I know to be true on the phone, I now know is also true about video: it’s the content that counts. For most of us, our self-criticism will always be greater than anyone else’s so we have to put it aside and judge the value of our work. Are we delivering great information? Have we presented it in a way that’s accessible? Are we creating as much engagement as possible? Have we done our best?
When it comes to learning, discomfort is part of the process. When you feel it, lean in, because knowledge and improvement are moments away.