Your failure is on YouTube. Now what?
Ok, you’ve got to see this. I got wind of it from Julianne Moore’s interview on Fresh Air where she talked about her time on As The World Turns: "I learned to be a professional. You might have, as a character, 30 pages of dialogue a day if you’re what they call a ‘front-burner story.’ So you go home, you learn your lines for the next day, you get up, you’re there at 7 in the morning, you do a quick rehearsal, you’re on camera, you might leave, you know, at 7 at night and start the whole thing over again. And you have to do it. Everyone’s working very, very quickly. There’s not a lot of time to help anybody, you know, and they have to get it down, too. Unless somebody really blows a line that’s going to be the take they use. That’s just how it is. So you sometimes don’t give the kind of performance you want to give and there’s just not enough time and you go home and you watch it and you’re like, ‘Wow, I was terrible and so you think how can I make this better?’"
Ohh, this video was painful to watch. Maybe a little bit funny in that soap opera kind of way, but mostly painful because she is so, so bad. Unlike other people, I don’t eagerly watch a “train wreck.” Watching Sarah Palin on that CBS interview - even though I was relishing the idea of her failing - it was too much for me! I couldn’t watch someone fail right there in front of my eyes! Humans struggling, in pain, aurgh! Even crazy humans like Sarah Palin! I can’t handle it. Instead I waited to watch the SNL version with Tina Fey, which was much better. (Satirical failing is awesome, I guess, because if you fail satirically, does it mean that you succeed? Hmmm.) Or, the time I was casting for a show and could not look one of the auditioners in the face because his audition was so bad. Him, in all his humanness, bravely stepping out to do something difficult. And I couldn’t even sit with him in that awkward difficulty. I’m sorry to whoever that was.
But - this video is awesome, too… because obviously Julianne Moore has also done some beautiful work. (Like this. And this. And this.) And we all have days like this video. Or years. Until we learn, or grow. The difference is that this was recorded and put on television for millions of people and now lives on YouTube where the likes of little old me can watch it and share it with the likes of you.
Just imagine if there was a YouTube video out there of all of our worst work, and finest failure… The embarrassing trip-ups and fumbling fall-outs. Grasping for excellence and falling terribly short. The moments that still make us cringe, even in memory. Could you stomach watching it? Learning from it? Or even celebrating how much you’ve grown, or - more importantly - how far you still need to go?
When I work with speakers, I like to use video as a teaching tool… it helps give context to all my comments, gives visual reference and is a great exercise in self-awareness. But nobody likes to watch it. Not one person I’ve ever worked with is excited to watch themselves. I myself did a TV interview once and have still never watched it. I am certain there are things I would learn, things I could have done better. But I’m too darn scared to even bother. Instead, I keep moving forward… hoping that somehow I will just magically get better at TV interviews.
And so the lesson I take from this I take from the very brave and awesome Ms. Julianne Moore - who once acted terribly and then - after realizing it - thought to herself ‘how can I do this better?’ And then she did.