Much like the principles of building muscle mass — the way your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibres after a workout by forming strong, new protein strands — your mistakes do not you weaken you, they build you up. They solidify you. They give you emotional and mental muscle. Or at least they should. Because you have to own your mistakes. You have to claim them and allow that destruction/reconstruction process to take place. It’s incredibly empowering.
Own who you are:
At a certain point in this working life, you realise that there really is no place to hide. You either own — completely own who you are, the nature and personality of your journalism and your understanding of what you are here to do — or I think you fade away. When I started on radio in Melbourne in 2001, the legendary Jon Faine gave me two pieces of advice. He told me that daily flow radio “was a marathon, not a sprint”, and he said that on air I had to be myself — not some persona, not some projection, but relentlessly myself. The listeners would find me out in a trice if I was not.
And regularly take stock of where you are at:
If one thing has stood me in good stead over the last 28 years, it has been a deliberate decision to periodically sit down and take inventory of what I’m doing well, what I need to improve, where the gaps in my skillset and knowledge base are and how I need to fill them. I’d urge you to do it too. If it helps, find someone you know, admire and trust and who knows your work well and ask them to do this exercise with you. Never be afraid of self-scrutiny. Don’t wait for someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart to point out your shortcomings — get there first and do something about them.
This post is a reminder that so often there is more at play than we are often willing to recognise.