It’s easy to look at what someone has accomplished and forget what it took to get there.
Don’t look at people excellent in their craft and think that in order to be successful, you need to replicate exactly what they’re doing.
Take the example of the many thriving YouTubers on the internet. Making videos is their job, and for the most part, their videos are of extremely high quality. They use high-end cameras, implement color grading, and manage to find the perfect music to complement their content. They seem to have the whole package — and confronted with this perfection, it’s easy to become paralyzed with doubt. It seems the only way to succeed is to be able to produce content as impressive as theirs — and that you can’t possibly begin unless you have all of the equipment this person has, or do all of the things that they do.
In the very same way, making a podcast has been a process punctuated with typical struggles of confidence. When I look back at my older recording, I am filled with frustration — it didn’t turn out how I had hoped. The audio isn’t clean, smooth or of particularly high quality. There wasn’t a script. The background noise is unpredictable. There are countless details that make it appear as a failure to me.
When this happens, I just have to remind myself — if I don’t do something today, I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Everyone has to start somewhere — and more importantly, the hard truth is that perfection doesn’t happen from the start. This is the case with all the people we might admire as being experts in their craft. More than likely, they started at the bottom, and slowly made improvements until their product was excellent.
Let’s return to the example of successful YouTubers. Many have been creating videos for years. However, all you have to do to break the sheen of perfection is look back at their first few videos and compare them to the more recent ones. You’ll notice a marked difference in the quality. These people have cultivated their skills over time. They had to start somewhere, however unprepared they may felt. Their subscriber base started from nothing. They all put out multiple videos before they knew anyone was watching, and slowly began to build his or her reputation by listening to feedback when the first few followers started taking notice.
This is what I think about in moments of uncertainty. I am going to persevere, continue recording, and putting out content regardless of who is listening or reading.
You don’t create perfectly refined content on your first attempt. Your very first video, article, podcast, animation or website is not going to be impeccable. It’s not going to be exactly how you want it to be, and it most likely won’t be an immediate success. It will continue to take work — but if you don’t start somewhere, you’ll never know what opportunities the future may hold. Don’t let the pursuit of perfection keep you from creating anything at all. My first podcast may have been less-than-impressive, but it’s all about progressing in steps. Today I took a step, and tomorrow I’ll take another.