I spoke with someone last week who told me, in his professional photography days, he was mentored by the then-editor of Vogue. One day, he asked his teacher how one could ascend the ranks and attain such a lofty title. His advice?
“Never show anyone your bad work.”
Let’s throw aside the practicality of that advice, for a moment, as it pertains to your job and career, and other things that affect your paycheck. It’s sensible advice, to an extent, but I think we often find ourselves applying that ‘wisdom’ in all the wrong places.
Take that word, “anyone,” and replace it with something more personal:
Never show your [spouse] your bad work.
Never show your [friends] your bad work.
Never show your [church] your bad work.
Never show your [kids] your bad work.
Those sentences worry me, because they remove the inclination to be real with people — to show others that you don’t have it all together. That’s okay; none of us have it all figured out.
That Vogue editor knew he had “bad work,” not only in photography, but in other areas of his life. Do you think he never showed his mistakes to his family? I certainly hope that’s not the case.
No one is perfect. Don’t be afraid to be honest about your shortcomings and find comfort in your community. Learn from others and laugh at the experience. Show others that it’s okay to fail. Everyone does.