Over the past few months I’ve filmed myself playing as much as possible. It helps me track my progress and check in with the state of my game. Unfortunately… sometimes what I see on video doesn’t always match up with how I think I played.
Like any competitor, I want to get better. To improve, I need to figure out what to work on. And the best way I’ve always thought to do that was to be analytical and think critically to figure out what I’m doing wrong.
So I would scour these videos with my best critical eye and guess what I found? Imperfection after imperfection… I would get super negative and discouraged about my game and problem solving ability. Not only was I frustrated by what I saw, but I would get upset at myself for losing touch with reality. How could I be so unaware?? At times it was difficult to accept, but I considered it a necessary part of the process.
Over the last year, my experience of watching film has changed and I think it’s for the better.
I realized that I could watch the same video multiple times and feel differently about it every single time. The video wasn’t changing… so that must mean that I’m what’s different? I noticed that after an exhausting day of training, my take on the film was often discouraging. But if I woke up, hungry for the day and excited to get to work, I might observe something a bit more positive.
“Wow, that’s literally what I’ve been practicing for 6 months and I did it in a game!”
If how I feel after watching film depends entirely on me, maybe I can choose how I want to feel? That’s not to say that I don’t play objectively better or worse in every video I watch. But a year ago, I was so focused on what I was doing wrong that I was crippling myself.
Probably the toughest part about this realization was that for a long time, I believed the more self-critical I was, the faster I would improve. But I’m not sure that being critical to the point of undermining my confidence or happiness is sustainable or even helped me become more productive in the long term. I would go as far to say that I think it’s actually short sighted and unhealthy, the achilles heel of the ‘perfectionist’ and will eventually undermine motivation. I would frame these film sessions as a painful ‘dose of reality’ but I think ‘reality’ contains a better balance of positives and negatives.
So how can I become less critical, and hopefully in turn more productive?
I often consider what kind of culture I am creating for myself or more importantly what kind of culture I want to create for myself. We talk a lot about cultivating successful, growth oriented team cultures, but is it possible to translate the same principals for ourselves? I work with myself every day. How well do I treat myself? Work with myself? If I were giving criticism to a teammate, I would probably use a compliment sandwich. Why not use that for myself?
I don’t believe it’s good to lie to yourself or be positive all the time or pretend like things are better than they are. But I’m not sure focusing on only negatives is helpful either. I want to feel like I know what I am doing well and I also want to feel optimistic about the direction of my game and when I watch film of myself, I want to leave the session feeling this way. Next time I watch, I’ll be looking to find at least as many positive observations as critiques.