trust your instincts


i’m about to begin a new podcast series that i hope will last a long time. in order to prepare for this, and in general practice for my professional development, i look to those i admire for guidance and advice. one of my all-time favourite radio journalists is Ira Glass from This American Life. to my advantage, what he and many other greats do is share.

so, to hear from him directly on what he does and how he does it, i began reading this. some of the lessons he mentions were things i’ve developed along my still short career in broadcasting. some were completely new to me. what i realized, however, is as Ira says, “All of us who do creative work…we get into because we have good taste.” it is this taste that makes good and intelligent practices feel like instinctual ones, and bad or sloppy practices feel like something foreign.

instinct is essentially taste + lessons + experience all combining to0 quickly for you to discern each step in the logic path your brain has already taken. it’s like a homogeneous mixture of thought. for me, what has become instinctual because i’ve done it for so long, is asking tough questions. i’m so curious i often forgo the line of “appropriate vs inappropriate questions”.  this is a great skill to work at and something that can eventually become instinctual.

and that is kind of the point, before you start doing things instinctually you still have instinct to tell what lessons you want to start practising and what ones you don’t. as i read through Ira’s article i still feel familiar with the lessons that are completely new to me. for example, in a lesson about scripting he references the piece of audio below to showcase the narrator’s ability to raise the discussion to a higher issue:

[haiku url=”http://transom.org/sounds/2004/guests/200405_glass/frog.mp3″ title=”Frog Intro”]

When he says “as with many such issues,” he steps out of the facts of this particular story and toward a big general point about How Things Work.

– Ira Glass

somehow when i read this i say to myself, “of course! of course that makes sense.” and it is there my instincts are guiding me to the lessons that will help me grow.

so, my advice is to use those instincts as a guide – one to help you absorb the lessons worth absorbing and one to also help you negate the lessons that don’t have value to you. it is always better to try something out to see if it works for you and i don’t recommend letting your instincts get in the way of taking chances on things that may be wrong; but even after taking the chance on the new lesson you thought would go wrong, your instincts will help you determine if that new lesson feels right or not.

and if you don’t have instincts yet, well, as they say, “fake it ’till you make it.” copy someone who has great instincts. copy several and eventually add your own flair to the mix.

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