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1000 words on showing your hard work

I’ve been spending some of my time on Tiktok lately and it’s dawned on me, it’s rarely obvious how much hard work has gone into creating the content.

I start with the best intentions, I search #lifecoaching, #coaches, #mindset and all the hashtags related to my industry, then I’m watching other coaches do their thing.

There’s some direct marketing, some “advice from a life coach” bits (p.s. that’s not how life coaching works, we don’t advise, we simply enquire), a few inspirational quotes, Denzel Washington is apparently big on the scene, and the obligatory Jordan Peterson rage-bait, not much of which I find particularly inspiring, other than the sweary guy who tells you how f*cking awesome you are and to get out there and grab the day by the horns.

But I’m only human, so once that research has been exhausted I inevitably switch over to the “for you” feed and this is where the time-sink quicksand grabs at my ankles and I’m lowered into at least half an hour of algorithm curated content designed to keep me there, swiping up for just one more video.

Some of the stuff I like is definitely process driven, I like to watch how things are made, it’s a bit like a behind the scenes moment or, and this is what I think we’re missing, a training montage, so I’ve been tweaking my personal algorithm.

A quick swipe up on the live streams, stories told over videos of strange, unlikely things being shaved means I see less of similar content but lingering on dad-joke battles pushes more Yeah Mad clips into my feed and watching a bit of woodwork gives me another video of highly talented craftspeople building an outdoor shelter, but even the clips I swipe are the products of hard work.

I’ve made videos for Tiktok and I enjoy it, but the truth of the matter is, it takes at least an hour, I’ve got to come up with an idea of what to talk about, then I’ve got to write the thing, and finally film it so it looks like I’ve just come up with it off the top of my head and that I’m not reading what I’m saying off a free teleprompter app. Which brings me to my point.

Nobody watching the first 3-5 seconds of what I’m saying before they swipe me away, or even those who stick it out to the end, have any idea what it took to try and hold their attention for 45 seconds, and this is not to say, “Boo hoo! Woe is me! I worked so hard and nobody cares!” because I swipe too, without remorse.

What I mean is, are we perpetuating the myth that these things are easy? As a content creator (and I use this term loosely), am I part of the problem of short attention spans? Of the glossy shine that we’re supposed to be inspired by but inevitably are just envious of? Should it be more obvious how many takes I’ve had to try and fail with before I’ve got the message across?

And I think the answer is YES!

With older more established media such as theatre, tv or film, we’re well aware of the 2+ years of lead time and the number of lives involved in getting such creations onto our screens or into our eyes, 10 or more minutes of credits at the end are testament to that, although they are eminently skippable these days, we at least know we’re skipping something.

I like that I’m seeing a timeframe caption now of how long it took before a trick shot was made, and I’m sure I could massage my algorithm to show me nothing but “behind the scenes” videos, but for the most part, and for the most popular content the WORK is hidden, and what message does that send?

It’s a paradox that those who work hardest are pushed to make it look like they don’t work at all, to promote the idea of innate talent and zero effort when in reality they’ve been doing whatever they’re doing for hours and hours across months or even years.

I feel that, and this is not restricted to but is especially relevant in the creative world, the journey should be shared.

I started thinking about these 1000 words 4 days ago, I started to put words down 2 days ago, after a couple of hours I dried up and walked away. After another 24 hours, some heavy editing, a dog walk and a trip to the gym, I was back in the flow, and I still had 235 words to go!  So it’s day 4, a round of editing done and into the final push to get my message across.

It occurs to me that since the advent of short form video, a condensed laugh, an impressive dance, a vignette of a mastered skill, unless the understanding that the work took place PRIOR to filming the clip is implicit, billions of people may be labouring under the impression that if they wait long enough their hitherto unknown talent will just burst from their body and success will follow.

So the question is, how do we make it clear that while talent is a great jumping off point, it’s the work that creates the success and the ratio of talent to work is forever in dispute. Christiano Ronaldo is famously quoted as saying “Talent without work is nothing” but there’s no denying it can give you a head start in your endeavours, Rachmaninoff had famously huge hands which allowed him to write and play incredeible pieces others couldn’t.

Outtakes for film and tv keep us watching the credits and behind the scenes documentaries for musicians are commonplace now, giving us increased insight into the process of creating an amazing show and the many hours and talented people involved.

For social content it could be a caption showing a take count or a timelapse of the fails or maybe every Tiktok just needs a training montage?

If you want to see some of my content, find me on Tiktok, or if you would like to discuss a coaching session or series of session with me, fill out the “About You Quiz” and I’ll get back to you. I honestly feel however, the best way to understand what coaching is and the potential of the process is to give it a try. You can now book a FREE one hour taster session with me and I can promise you no hard sell, just good honest coaching.