In his classic 1984 hit song, Glory Days, the wise and wonderful New Jersey born-and-bred poet/philosopher, Bruce Springsteen, muses over a series of encounters with friends from years-gone-by, who each look back on the glory days of their past accomplishments. In each case these friends realize, and mourn over, the fact that their best days have passed them by. Consider the opening lyrics of the song:
“I had a friend who was a big baseball player back in high school. He could throw that speedball by you, make you look like a fool, boy. I saw him the other night at this roadside bar, I was walking in, he was walking out. We went back inside, sat down, had a few drinks, but all he kept talking about was glory days. Well, they’ll pass you by. Glory days.”
The underlying truth behind the song is relatable to many people who are living in the past and longing for yesterday. Many of us look back on the “good old days” of our youth with nostalgic sentiment, reliving past achievements in our minds, and occasionally in our conversations, instead of striving to achieve new victories in our current situations. For those who are unaware, there is a danger in achieving too much too soon. Once you feel like you’ve had some success, it’s easy to become complacent. Too many people peak early and then rest on their laurels. This can lead to lower standards in your work.
Once you feel like you’ve had some success, it’s easy to become complacent
In order to be the best of the best, we need to do more than succeed once; we must develop disciplines and hone habits that lead to sustained success. In order to maintain long term, recurring success we must never stop striving to improve. We must continually pursue new goals. This is just as true in producing video as it is with any other achievement. As makers of media we need to continually raise the bar in regard to our standards of quality. We need to aim to grow our skills with each new project, and embrace new production tools, techniques, trends and technologies so that we can stay current in a competitive field that is filled with creative and driven counterparts.
Make no mistake, those who rest on yesterday’s successes will fall behind. Those who build on them, however, by stacking success on top of success, will rise to the top. The reality is that you are only as good as your last project. Success is a moving target. Staying on top of your game is a little like walking up the down escalator. If you stand still, you will decline to the bottom and get spit out. You must keep stepping forward and up on that escalator at a moderate pace just to maintain your position. To make it to the top, you have to exert enough forward and upward energy to climb at a pace that exceeds the steady downward pull of the escalator.
The good news is that sustained success does not rest on natural giftedness or talent. Rather, it is based on determination, dedication and hard work. I recently saw a gigantic sign painted on the wall of a gym I was in. It read, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” I think that sense of hard work is what was missing in Springsteen’s baseball friend. In your productions, and in life, don’t rest on your past successes. When you challenge yourself to improve with every production, your future may be filled with glory days yet to come.
Matthew York is Videomaker‘s Publisher/Editor.