The Blame Game

The second in my series – yes, it seems to be a series now – about why some people progress quicker, and this time, it’s the blame game.

I’ve done a bit of teaching in my time, not only this caper but in the classroom too, and there’s an element which separates the greats from the mediocres. I’ve noticed it while watching fledgling stand up comics rise from nothing to stardom or remain in the very amateur realm. I’ve witnessed it in just about every business I’ve worked in, and the in the world of approaching someone in the day, this one is a killer.

The number of times I’ve heard, in all contexts:

“Shit audience tonight… just a really bad vibe.”

“The students were just so disengaged, they had such a crappy attitude.”

“She was being a bitch.”

“No one was hooking today.”

Do you think the people who said this went on to be great teachers, comedians or approachers?

Hell, no. I have a friend who has become a great actor and comedian. His most notable quality is that every gig he ever did, every show, every audition he had one question and only one: “how can I improve? What can I do differently next time to make it better?” He would film every one and – back at home – watch it, analyse it, and tweak it.

I’ve sat around and watched staff moaning on and on about a class, when I’ve taught the same bunch and had a great time.

And every time I see a student on the streets who says “it was a crap set” my heart sinks.

By the way, it doesn’t matter whether these criticisms are true or not (insofar as they can be measured) but it’s the mindset behind it which is important.

By blaming your audience / class / set you make yourself powerless – everything becomes outside your control and everything becomes about blind luck. The thing about blind luck is that progress can be mighty slow for a mighty long time.

The other side of the blame game is to blame yourself instead. I’m a terrible one for this – I will absolutely admonish myself to absurd extents: “you fucking idiot! How could you be so stupid? Why can you never get this fucking well right? What’s wrong with you??” The blame game again, and some would argue more damaging.

The problem with these “why did she…” questions asked from this mindset is that it’s nearly impossible to answer. There could be a million reasons, there could be no reasons. But you can’t give a shit about that – it’s not your job and it’s not in your interests.

You have only one question:

What did I do, and how can I do it better?

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