Andrei Freeman (lordandrei) wrote,
Andrei Freeman

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An analogy

When I was about 10 or 11 I went to a magic camp. This was a camp for kids interested in magic. The Copperfield/Henning type. It was sponsored by one of the largest Magic Stores in New York City, Tannen's.

The camp was a place where you could meet professionals, attend seminars, and see shows. At the end of the week there was a talent show. My first year there I had an act I was going to do in the talent show. It involved a floating scarf... and the theme to Close Encounters. About a day before the show a magician came up to me working with the apparatus and told me I was doing it all wrong.

It was strange, he wasn't known for stand up magic. He worked primarily in cards and coins. He showed me how to hold the apparatus in an entirely different manner which basically made it impossible for all of the work I'd do for the talent show. He asked me what I was planning to do with it and when I showed him, he told me it'd be entirely wrong and people wouldn't like it.

I didn't think I could work up an entirely new routine in a day, so I dropped out of the talent show. Afterwards, the guys in my room asked why I didn't do the talent show. I explained it and they told me I shouldn't have listened to the guy. At 10 or 11, you don't necessarily know who you are and aren't supposed to listen to, or when you're supposed to trust your instinct over the experts.

In general I have found so many instances in my life where an "Expert" has come up to me and told me, "No, it's completely wrong." I've grown a thicker skin over time and gotten better at judging my instinct and judging someone else's 'expertise.' But the issue I take is the expert who condemns.

My College advisor (and then head of our theatre department) once told me not to audition for musicals, because I wasn't a singer. (I later joined the nationally touring chorus) I wasn't a strong college student in my undergrad. I admit it. When my advisor decided to leave the university he looked me in the eye and told me, "I consider you my biggest academic failure of my career."

We are all capable of waving the "This is wrong" flag. Personally, I think the real experts will never carry that flag. They have a, "How can we make this better" flag.

See, the issue isn't someone telling me it's wrong or it's bad and making me feel like I should dotingly follow their neo-charasmatic lead. The fact is, that the attitude is simply not constructive. It invalidates any work or effort put in. And it really just doesn't motivate the worker to try to succeed on any level. This feeling of the air of motivation being 'let out' is exaggerated when you know that the expert, is really quite incompetent.

And I thought I'd had my fill of co-workers who wanted to ruin my life and undermine my work back at Pitt.

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