I'm terrible at judging the quality of my own work.
I've almost deleted some of my best blog posts, thinking that they weren't good enough. I was ashamed to publish them, and I only did it to push myself to write better next time.
Guess what? Some of these posts, like this one that Tynan reposted to his community, turned out to be very good.
I've also noticed the same with photos I share on Instagram. Here, the quality (or the popular appeal) of a photo can roughly be judged by the number of likes and comments that a photo gets.
Over the past year I've uploaded over a hundred photos to Instagram... and I'm still struggling to see which ones will be well received. I'm almost ashamed to say this since I also give advice on how to take better photos with the iPhone.
Why is it so hard to judge the quality of your own work?
I think there are a few reasons.
First, different people have different tastes, and some types of work are just more likely to be well received than others.
When I was first starting out on Instagram, I posted many sunset silhouette photos... all shot on the beach. My audience loved these photos, but I quickly grew tired of them. So when I tried posting something else... like the photo below... I got very few likes and just a couple of comments saying "creepy".
Ouch. That's not what I expected. But different people have different tastes, and some of them are more common than others.
To make things easier, I could say that my audience was narrow-minded, but at that point I was explicitly trying to build an Instagram following to promote my iPhoneography website. So for me a good photo was a photo that was well received, but I could never tell if that would be that case in advance.
Second, the judgements you make about your work are likely to be biased by modesty and self-consciousness that we all have.
In the early days of this blog, I was often writing about productivity, self-discipline and self-improvement. And while I've made tremendous improvements in these areas of my life, I'm by no means perfect at being productive and not wasting my time.
So who am I to be telling other people how to get shit done if I can't do it myself? And do I really practice what I preach?
Of course, it's silly to be inauthentic on your blog or to try to present a skewed view of your personality. But, at the same time, even a lazy guy like me CAN write about trying to become more productive and share the techniques that work for me. I don't need to be 100% productive to share my ideas with others.
Finally, you are also a bad judge of your own work because you become too attached to it. As you spend time and effort towards something, you naturally want it to be good, and you base your quality judgements on the effort you've put into it.
But time and even effort aren't always correlated with quality. I've done some of my best writing very quickly while being in a state of flow, and some of my best photos were shot purely by accident. It's stupid, but that's how it works.
So where does all of this mean to you?
It means that you should always let other people see your work before you discard anything. At the very least, you'll get feedback for the things you did wrong. But, more often than not, there will be someone who can benefit from your work, even if you're not particularly proud of it yourself.
Also, if you know that whatever work you produce will be shared with the world, you have no easy way out. You actually have to do your best in whatever situation you're in.
If I only published one out of every three posts that I write, the quality of my published posts would improve. But the average quality of all the posts that I write would certainly go down. Halfway through a mediocre post I would have already given up, knowing that this post will be discarded anyway.
As Sebastian once said, a writer - or anyone else, for that matter - will only be remembered for their very best work. So why not put it all out and let others be the judge for you?
Now, I'll be honest with you. I don't think this post is very good. In fact, as I'm writing this, I'm mildly annoyed by the fact that the plane I'm on has virtually no oxygen, and that I've spent most of this day on yet another plane that had to do an emergency landing because all its lavatories were clogged.
But to stay consistent with the message of this post, I'm going to put it out anyway. I'll let you be the judge. I'll embarrass myself if I have to. And I'll fail publicly. If not today, then certainly some other time when I post my ramblings on the net.
And I suggest that you do the same. Because only by putting all your work out to the world, open for both praise and criticism, can you become better at what your doing.
I've had the same experience. Some of the posts that I've felt were the worst ended up getting the most love from others.
And I agree with Paul. I can see why the photo wouldn't have gotten a lot of likes ;)
Definitely a creepy-as-fuck photo.
Enjoy America :)
Two weeks ago I lost my part-time job. My contract was due an extension, but I wasn't offered one. Instead the company chose to hire someone else the same month they let me go. They said I wasn't fired, but it's hard to use any other word for this.
I asked them if it had anything to do with my performance. They said that my performance was great. Indeed, I worked harder than most other people in the company. Including my boss.
I asked them if it had anything to do with my personality. They said of course not. I'm not so sure about that.
Then I asked if there was anything at all that made them choose someone else instead of me. They avoided the question.
I don't think they were just throwing dice when deciding who was getting fired and hired. So I pointed that out. That kind of pissed them off.
A situation I run into frequently, including right now, is being around people who would prefer that I not work all the time. They understand what I'm doing and are supportive of it, but they will make short term decisions to avoid me working. In other words, I'm visiting my family and if I were to ask, "Should I go get some work done or have fun with you?" the answer would always be fun.
This happens around friends when traveling sometimes, too. Maybe they came for vacation, but I travel so much that work has to be a regular part of my schedule, even when traveling. Whether with family or friends, it's a tricky balance. I'm not great at maintaining that balance, but I've been doing it for a few weeks, which has surfaced some thoughts on it.
One skill I've found to be really useful is to really be able to discriminate between things that must get done immediately and things that need to be done eventually, but not now. Right now we're moving Sett to a new server. I'm coordinating with Todd, and this is a high priority, so it has to be done now. Other things, like working on my habit book, can be delayed.
On the other end of things, I've been trying to evaluate family activities by a similar measure. Is this really quality time, or are we just sitting in the same room watching a movie? Is my participation central to this activity, or am I just another body in a room?