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13 Oct 2014

Motivational Monday: Don’t Know What You’re Doing as an Indie Developer? No Problem.

If you listen to a lot of podcasts like we, then you’ve probably come across a few interviews with comedian Adam Carolla. The guy has been on nearly every major podcast at least once (and even has his own show). He isn’t for everybody, but there was one tangent he went on long ago that has always stood by me. I’m going to butcher it when paraphrasing it, but it went something like that:

“Most people are terrible at their job no matter who they are, so if you are actually somewhat decent at your job, you’re doing a lot better than most people.”

It’s a bit pessimistic, but to an extent, he may be onto something. I would dare say that more often than not, professionals are flying by the seat of their pants when doing their job. They have no idea what’s coming next, how to do a certain task in the moment, and so on. They have no idea what they are doing, but they’re continuously learning to prepare for what lies ahead, and that’s what counts.

I read an article recently that exclaimed that, “nobody really knows what they are doing,” and even if you compare yourself to another professional that seems to have it all figured out, chances are they’re more nervous and afraid they don’t stack up with their peers than you believe. Furthermore, the article states that if you are worried that you don’t measure up to your peers or generally are not good enough to be in your career (i.e. developing indie games for a living), then that could be proof enough that you do indeed stack up well with other professionals in your field.

It’s the same idea behind the old saying, “if you wonder to yourself if you’re going crazy, then you’re not.” If you have any doubts that you don’t know what you’re doing as an indie developer, that proves that:

  • You recognize there are things in your professional life that others do better than you.
    • Meaning you recognize areas in your work life that you need to improve.
  • You have a clear grasp for what makes an indie developer skillful.
    • Again, if you recognize someone has more talent at a particular skill, you recognize the reality of what makes that skill great.
  • You’re critical of yourself because you care.
    • Because you care, you will do what you can to succeed.

To borrow a quote from the 99u post:

“…deep down, we all feel as though we’re winging it. ‘I have written 11 books,’ said the late Maya Angelou, ‘but each time, I think, ‘Uh-oh. They’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out.’”

If Maya Angelou had constant doubts about her talents, then those doubts you have as an indie developer? They’re perfectly normal. You may not think you know what you’re doing, but that’s okay. It’s called learning on the job, and the moment you stop learning? That’s when you need to stop developing games and move to another career.

That goes for any career, too. Learning never stops, and neither do those instances of self-doubt where you don’t think you know what the heck you’re doing.

Besides, the worst indie developers are the ones that think they’re awesome but can’t see through their own ego that they’re anything but awesome. That goes with anything in life, too. Have you ever met a ‘know-it-all’ that actually didn’t know anything, making the person look like a complete moron every time they opened their mouth? The same thing applies with your life as an indie developer. If you recognize your faults, then you know what you need to improve to get better.

In closing, nobody knows what they are doing 100% of the time – and that’s okay. If you have doubts, that means you recognize an aspect of your work life you need to improve (and again, it also means you care). If you find yourself comparing your own success to that of other indie developers – don’t. Consider the hard work and dedication that goes into finding success, and recognize that you too are working hard and dedicating to finding your own.

Keep fighting the good fight and improving your craft: eventually, success will follow.

Source: 99u

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