Mudwashing

I posted this question on Facebook and didn’t get an adequate answer, so I’m making up a word. Here’s the facebook post…

I am an expert at making things complicated. I love complicated stories and people because they’re a great escape that my brain continuously puzzles over. When I’m working on a project that I actually want to finish, my puzzly brain works against me in creating endless tangents and murkiness in the goal.

I can get really into the idea of having a cafe or something – thinking that would be a really simple business to run. Just make sure i have the best products for the best price and make sure everyone knows about it. The problem is that my mudwashing brain will act up every time I encounter failure or perceived failure, so you can be guaranteed by cafe would have a bunch of performances, a postoffice box service, and a local radio show in no time.

Failure is evidence

Sticking to a goal and being connected with reality is how to achieve the goal. Simplifying it to … “I am trying to do this… These things are working… These things are not working…” is the ultimate way to move efficiently and mentally stay clear and fulfilled. The whole thing is a bunch of experiments and failure and success are common occurances along the path, not endpoints. The real end for a project is not failure, it’s the decision to end the project.

Mudwashing looks smart

Let’s say I’m trying to sell more tickets to a show. It might be that I focus on no other growth for the show for a month. All I do is count how many tickets I sold before, how many i want to sell, and try different things to sell more. I can make this goal muddier by saying “a new customer is worth more than an old customer. So, I’ll count how many new customers I get too.” then I say… “If I can get group sales, the experience might be better.” This stuff might be true, but constantly thinking and figuring and clevering this stuff does not end. Then, I’m spending all my jellybeans being a wizard and not selling tickets. Then, I probably won’t have a clear end goal, so I can’t really fail.

Fear of public scrutiny (what most people call fear of failure) is the motivation

When our goal is muddy, we’re off the hook. We can’t miss that goal because it doesn’t really exist. We can’t be blamed. We can’t be criticized. This is good sometimes. It sucks to be on the hook for everything.

The things that are important to us — the really big things — we want to be on the hook.

Reversing that social pressure

Social pressure is a strong force and we can’t just ignore it, but we can turn it to the other side. Instead of feeling the social pressure to not have a clear goal, we can feel the social pressure to stick to the goal. This is called accountability — another word I made up. We can get some people that we cannot escape that know our goal and what we’re exploring to accomplish it. Then, the pressure’s on to stay on track instead of obliterate the track.

Written By Scot for entertainment pros

Scot Nery has helped some of the biggest companies in the world achieve entertainment success.

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