I will now make a statement that will, in a very broad stroke, apply to almost everyone reading this.
"You are not an idiot."
Now, keep in mind that this isn't a 100 percent true statement for everyone. Some folks are just bound and determined to wear a name tag with "Idiot" on it. But, for most of us, I think it's safe to say we aren't.
Want to know why? Because we are all completely unique individuals.
Each of us is equipped with a combination of identifiable characteristics that make us different from everyone else. We each have things that fascinate us and things that we find appalling. We each justify making the effort and digging for deeper understanding of some areas, while virtually ignoring others.
We don't have the right to ridicule someone who doesn't have our skills any more than we have the right to berate ourselves for some skill that we haven't needed or had the opportunity to develop.
Being a natural musician doesn't make you natural technician. Management skills don't always go hand in hand with social skills. A genius chef may not be able to pour concrete. Even the best baseball player may not be able to sink a free-throw in basketball. Get the idea?
The point I am trying to make is this, nobody is an expert in every area. Nobody knows everything. Nobody is above criticism from some arrogant know-it-all who understands one thing that they don't.
Within the last church sound crew I worked with, there were several completely different personality types and skill sets.
Church members often raved about my live band mixes, while critiquing the other guys. Not that my mixes were magical or better than theirs, just somehow different. What they didn't know was that those other guys made my mixes possible. These guys were as dependable as daylight and had the most incredible technical aptitude. Mixing may have been my only legitimate skill, but they had a lot more to offer.
While I was fully capable of mixing and maintaining systems, these guys could tear individual components down to the molecular level and diagnose every failure. While I could identify a microphone, they could explain the scientific principles that made it work.
What those members didn't understand, was that our system operated at peak performance and defied budget restrictions because of the guys who didn't mix like me. Thank God for those guys. We may have had different skills, but we each had our place that contributed to the whole.
Is one skill set more or less valuable in a team environment? Do I need all their skills? Do they have to posses mine? Isn't the very purpose of a team to pool the talents of several people? If we are all the same, are we all necessary? Give yourself a break.
You might be a great organizer or manager, but lack the musical ear for the studio. You might have a knack for mixing magical live shows, but panic if anything ever blows a fuse. You might speak electrical code in your sleep, but get nauseous at the thought of coordinating an event.
There's a lot of peace in narrowing your focus to the areas where you have passion and some natural skills. Consequently, there's a lot of stress in trying to fill shoes that aren't yours. Ease up and stop trying to be something you aren't.
You can also step back once in a while to just rest and get your focus. Things change over time. Circumstances that put you in a position may not be there anymore. Maybe you are just filling a gap for a season. Maybe the situation requires you to work outside your comfort zone. Maybe it's a permanent change, maybe not.
Running in panic mode 24-hours a day will keep you from making an honest assessment.
Figure out where you fit in and focus on that. Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep on developing your skills and knowledge. If there's something you want to master, do it.
We live in a day and age when information and answers are only seconds away for almost everything. there's no excuse for guessing, assuming or even lying about your knowledge. If it matters, learn it. If it doesn't just move on.
The guys who are fully able to admit when they don't know something and confess when they aren't qualified, earn my respect. The guys with ambition to be the best at something, and actually work towards it always impress me.
Then there's the guys who run themselves ragged pretending to be something they aren't and acting like they know things that they don't
Well. You know who those guys are. They just don't always wear the name tag.
Senior editor M. Erik Matlock has worked in professional audio for more than 20 years in live, install, and recording. Read more of his random rants and tirades here.