My co-producer Brian David Judkins told me to slow down the other day, and I bristled. The third season of our podcast Encounter Party! had recently wrapped and I was sprinting on to the next steps.
“Ned, stop.” Brian said sternly. “We need to have a call with the full cast to celebrate.”
Reader, I tell you right now, this did not sit well with me. My mind went into turmoil. Celebrate what? I found myself thinking. Our first campaign is over and I haven’t started promo for the next thing. I haven't reached out to my 5 people today to network. I’m not deep into my editing workflow or my character development or any of the long litany of things I do on the regular to take this show to the next level. How could I celebrate when there’s so much to do? Celebrating would mean being happy with where I am when I have such big goals and dreams. Since I haven’t achieved those dreams, there’s nothing to celebrate.
Yes. Yes there is.
Why are so many of us wired like this? We spend so long being told that hard work will equal success that when we achieve a victory it feels pre-ordained and somehow dull. That's a wild reaction. Achievements are a big deal. And they may feel like stepping stones on the path to Success™️, but not so long ago they felt like the unachievable mountain. We aren’t who we were yesterday, last week, last month, or 10 years ago, and our goals may have changed too. However, when you achieve the goal of one-week-ago-you, be sure to give former you a high five and celebrate.
When we set out to make Encounter Party!, the goal was to make one season that proved audiences were hungry for our unique production format. We achieved that goal in spades, but did I celebrate? No. I was too busy worrying that we didn’t have the second season recording scheduled. That our numbers were far below what I felt they should be. That we hadn’t found how to best engage our fans. Never did it cross my mind to acknowledge that a mere few months prior we didn’t have ANY fans. Oh, we also spent nearly 8 weeks on Apple’s New & Noteworthy Charts.
We recorded season 3 right as season 2 wrapped its release schedule, meaning I didn’t stop to celebrate then either. We had recordings to do, digital conventions to plan for, press outreach to send. If I had stopped for a second I would’ve acknowledged that in 4 months we had tripled what had taken us the prior 11 to achieve downloads-wise. That we had been named as one of the 7 D&D shows you need to listen to by Nerdist. Or even that we had charted in nearly 50 countries for Comedy Fiction. Instead, I beat myself up for missing deadlines, flubbing social media responsibilities, and feeling like I let everyone down. Oh, and it was a pandemic. I probably needed to address that as well.
“Ned, stop. We need to have a call with the full cast to celebrate.”
And you know what? Brian was right. Last night myself and the rest of the Encounter Party! Team (minus Will Melones) gathered to raise a glass to our successes. We built each other up, espoused praises on each person, made everyone feel awkward, and talked about nothing important. This little professional project of mine built a weird wonderful tribe of humans who mean so much to me. Celebrating them feels like the only thing I want to do all the time. It's okay to pause and be utterly thrilled with where you are. Acknowledging that DOES NOT devalue where you hope to be in the future.
Build your people up and celebrate them. That especially includes yourself.
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Photo by Danny Bristoll
(fac·to·tum | \ fak-ˈtō-təm) noun - a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities
I find myself hilarious, and I use this blog to stroke my own ego. Thanks for indulging me.