Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Fired in Two Minutes Flat

As a musician, every once in a while I'd give a younger, less experienced musician a break and call them for a gig that normally would be out of their league. I could tell immediately - by how they walked in the door! - whether I'd made a mistake.

About 25% of the time, the player would walk in quietly, perhaps a bit nervously, and with bristling excitement. It would go well. He'd be on top of his game, listening hard, ever-alert, and eager to contribute. These things would more than compensate for a few inevitable gaffes and inadequacies. He'd be a "team player", helping foster a positive vibe that would lift us all.

75% of the time, the player would walk in bored and blasé, as if it was just another damn gig. Hey, he was sharing a stage with us, which made him, obviously, an equal colleague. Whether his attitude was a contrivance (he was scared stiff) or delusional (he was clueless re: his place in the scheme of things), I'd brace for a bad night. He'd be just as off-handed as a really good player...but without the really good playing. Ouch.

I once needed to recruit writers for a project, and invited a blogger who lacked the expertise and experience of the rest of the crew. I figured he'd work extra diligently, flattered at having been included. On his first day - first minute, really - there was a group meeting about a nuanced decision. He ignored several of the fine points I'd laid out, and barreled forth as informally as if he were chatting idly on Facebook. After listening inattentively, he blurted out whichever idle thoughts occurred to him.

I fired him on the spot.

I'm sure he hates me. But I saved both of us a lot of pain. It would have been much worse if I'd postponed the inevitable.

You might hear this as "I demand to be shown proper respect." Not at all. It's not inter-personal. My point is that if you're not awesome, you need to bring your very best game. And I know, with the certainty of long experience, that you won't elevate your game unless you arrive with a respectful attitude. I'm not looking for respect, per se, but for the sort of results that flow only from that attitude.
...i.e. from that framing.

Attitude stems from framing, not vice versa. So I know your framing from your attitude. I know which universe you exist in, and what you're capable of, from your attitude. One cannot directly change attitude, but one can effortlessly shift framing...which instantly transforms attitude. "Emotions", same. They, too, stem from framing, are hard to change directly, but effortlessly shift with reframing.

That awful thing your mother once said that you've paid shrinks $$$$$ to help you grapple with? If you found out your mother was mentally ill, or joking, or rehearsing a line from a play, you'd be fine in a flash. You'd reframe, and emotions would fall in line easy-peasy. So what if you reframe just for shits and giggles, recognizing, say, that everyone's spinning like a top from their own issues, with a long chain of separate reasons for saying/doing silly stuff, none of it having anything to do with you?

Forgiving is reframing. Laughing is reframing. Recognizing other people's long chains of cause/effect is reframing. Realizing other people's errant statements are no more deeply significant than your own is reframing. You can also just go ahead and reframe anytime just 'cuz and without a reason. Flip!

The only thing holding you back is a conviction that the grimmer framing is truer, while more free-spirited framings are lightweight and “unrealistic”. That's an illusion stemming from a perspective frozen in Grim-land. Our most habitual framing feels truest. Try another! Any other! Flip!!

Framing is not a nerdy conceptual mind trip. It's the motherlode of who we are and what we're doing here. It's humanity's ground zero. It directly impacts and centrally underpins every issue in the human experience.

Check out "The Joy of Stepping Up", describing the thrill of my lifetime, when I was lucky enough to be the very worst player in the band.

1 comment:

Display Name said...

Everyone is spinning like a top. What a delightful image! Funny you should pick something your mother said as an example. I visit gaming shops on the regular, even going into new to me ones. When you wrote about having to prove yourself over and over again in some new to you restaurants it struck a cord with me. You look like a gringo you've said, I'm not the typical demographic for magic the gathering. My first time in one new shop the people would not speak to me at all even when I asked them direct questions. Their pack leader was young and charismatic. I walked in another new shop and the guys I approached offered me a free slice of pizza and wanted to trade and play with me. They were about the same age as the first group. Then I met their mothers. The guy who completely ignored me finally had his mom show up to give him a ride home. She was tipsy loud and cursed a lot, trying to be cool. The second group had Two moms that were kind lovely and could not be more supportive of their son's hobby. As a part of their hobby I was treated ridiculously well by them. So now when I am treated poorly for unknown reasons, or treated very well I just assume it's all about the mother and how can I beat that? Very freeing. My grad school professor once told the class that mother is the most emotionally laden word in the english language.

Blog Archive