Skip to content

An Instinct for experimentation.

December 14, 2019

I’ve had to apply myself to a new task over the last month,  the task of video production.  This was not something I’d done much of prior to the month of November, in fact, most attempts I made at creating IMovie content ended in a bit of a disaster as there was just too much that I didn’t know. However, that has now changed, quite rapidly in fact, and I feel it has something to do with my instinct for experimentation.

I’m not the kind of girl that reads instructions.  I just look, touch, experience then try.  Often this can lead to massive failures and sometimes I do find myself digging through the bin or cupboard in search of that wonderful bit of guidance that accompanies most tools, self-assembly furniture or lab equipment these days.  But the important thing for me is that I pretty much have to fail in some way first before I recognise what I know and what I don’t know, what I can teach myself and what I’m best being taught.

Having just finished creating what I must say, I’m pretty proud of – a You Tube intro clip for the re-vamped channel that I’m creating content for (for New Directions Australia), I wanted to share it around to make sure that a) I wasn’t completely deluded and b) that it was on track with what was wanted by the company.  It was during that ‘show-and-tell’ that I got a comment that has just come back to me as an ‘a-ha’ moment:

‘I bet you watched a lot of You Tube ‘how-to’s’ to learn how to do that?’

Boom, there it is.

That’s what’s happening.

That is the norm.


Ok so I did watch a bit of You Tube, probably 15 minutes where I sat down first with one of the company directors and reviewed various movie trailers (to form a brief) and then with my daughter (who was working with me at the time) and a few more team members to find videos of things smashing and mixing in slow motion.  15 minutes tops, that’s it I’d say.

By modern ‘I’ve done my research’ standards I was hitting an  F minus or even less.

But that’s all I needed because I wasn’t searching for a prescription, I was searching for ideas.

I have been wondering about that in light of the issues I face with the people I talk to during my consulting week.  When I started the technical help desk service I was getting some pretty basic questions (as is expected and welcomed) but the energy behind them was inquisitive, probing and with a clear feel for what they were wanting to know.  Fast forward ten years to now and we have a situation where the tone is more combative, the questions are posed in a way that is less open to ideas and more demanding AN answer as in ‘give me THE answer’.  As anyone who has ever asked me a technical question (or read my other blog posts) knows there is no single answer to a cosmetic formulating question, this is an applied science and that’s why I love it.

My thoughts led me to reflect on how I had been going about my new and unfamiliar task in a world that I’m not actually qualified to be in and have no ‘best practice’ or insider knowledge to fall back on.  What is it that makes the people I talk to now approach this new venture in such a different way to how I am approaching my new venture?

I guess I suggested my own possible explanation in the title of the post, that I have an instinct for experimentation which, I have to say, is best when paired with a vivid and energetic imagination.  I do have all of that although I’m not always the best at executing my ideas or thinking them through (in that I’ve pretty much encapsulated the high and low points of an ADHD brain like mine) but what I can do is get some runs on the board.

To me, experimenting or enthusiastically just giving something a go (albeit with a little age-appropriate risk-assessing) is at the heart of everything I value about how I do things and how I work things out.  It is the approach that I try to encourage in my students, my clients and my friends and family.  I am comfortable making mistakes on camera, in class, during public speaking and even in print (although my spelling and grammar blind spots do shit me to tears at times) because I know that the people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind.  I know that this is true because while the first set of people are critically evaluating and trying to rank in terms of importance and value what I’ve just said or done, the latter have just picked up the baton and ran with it.  I don’t just LIKE those people, I LOVE them.

When I was growing up my dad had a saying that he’d often share with us.  He usually dropped it when he saw someone participating in a hobby, a person who had ‘all the gear but no idea’ meaning they had the best of everything in terms of things you could purchase but had no capacity to make a real go of it in practice.

These days with the ready availability of ingredients, cheap and fast online and offline courses, recipes and sharing groups, blogs (such as mine) and other platforms that turn amateurs and charlatans into experts,  these ‘all the gear and no idea’ types have thrived.  In the days of my childhood, very few people had the resources to be THAT person, these days much of the research comes for free so by the time you do your little bit of online course or whatever, you already feel like an expert.  By the time you actually use that gear (information, equipment, ingredients etc) you feel like all of the boxes have been ticked only they haven’t because there are no courses that can qualify you in imagination;  the learning that comes from just doing, being, touching and seeing; a natural aptitude and ‘feel’ for the subject and, most importantly, an inquisitive and flexible mind.  In fact the opposite is true – these days if there isn’t a tutorial, recipe or prescription for it, it is a problem, not an opportunity.

I have often bemoaned my chaotic approach to life, the money and time I’ve wasted on ideas that I’ve enthusiastically but unpreparedly commenced then crashed out of, the projects that have left me broke and tired and the thoughts that have robbed me of too much sleep.  However now, when I look at what I’m achieving with my video work, however crude it currently is, however many things I’ve still got to learn, perfect, polish and re-do, I know that my approach, my natural instinct is right.  This is what we need more of in the world,  more getting stuck in and giving it a go, more creating, experimenting, more fearlessness, more open minded exploration, more gumption.  Gumption is another good word from my childhood, it means ‘shrewd or spirited initiative and resourcefulness’.  I really like that!

If you still have the instinct for experimentation and the gumption to see it through let me know, if you don’t know what I’m talking about,  you are not my people.

Here’s my video trailer:

It looks relatively simple now but getting those bubbles of oil filmed was a bitch I can tell you!  Then getting them edited in the right space in the right way was another headache and so on and so forth.

The last bit of the puzzle was the sound track which we all had a good laugh making.  We chose some random morse code from the iMovie sound effects studio but a late night conversation about morse code that morphed into a side chat about whale penises (long story….) resulted in me generating a bit of meaningful code to add instead.

Net result: I like it but like most experimenting people, I want to now keep pushing myself to do bigger, better, longer, stronger etc…

Keep experimenting.

Don’t stop,

Remember that 10,000 hours to becoming an expert that I’ve often talked about, well if you think that’s just 10,000 hours of You Tube watching you are probably delusional 🙂

Amanda x

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 20, 2019 6:19 pm

    Just when I needed this most. Great work on the bubbly and thank you so much for your insight on creative brains!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: