Last week, I had a 3-hour conference call with four other members of Vaughan Film Festival's core planning committee. During the call, we had a series of heated discussions and debates. While in the end we were able to find common ground, we spent the majority of the time questioning and rejecting ideas, calling-out people who began to take things personally, and at times forcefully defending our position using language that may not be appropriate for a “PG” audience.
Argue: to steel your team’s beliefs. “In business you can’t turn over the reins to someone who doesn’t know how to defend their own ideas and plans,” Nazar writes. Like an ancient Sophist, you should argue with your colleagues about what they are thinking and doing. Debate forces them to articulate their own motivations and assumptions and do the same for you.
Confront:You need to be ready to call someone out. If somebody is bullshitting you, tell them. They need to hear it. Being endlessly deferential is a shortcut: instead of doing the hard work of advocating truth, you take the “easy” route of suffocating in passivity. And remember: you can train yourself to communicate better.
Be ruthless: It’s healthy to have high standards. Nazar mentions George Carlin: he watched the comic master berate himself in rehearsal for missing the timing of his jokes by a few seconds. Mastery is uncompromising. As a magazine editor once told me, you have to be willing to be great, which requires ruthlessness.
Seek out rejection: Some people go their entire lives having never thrown or taken a punch (like me). It’s just a punch. Some people live their lives afraid of rejection. Getting told “no” isn’t the end of everything you hold dear. Neither is being left out. In fact, it’s healthy.
These 5 points captured everything my team had done the night before. So I sent them a link to this article with a message: “Guys, we’re going to be successful.” No one responded, but in our next meeting there was no bitterness whatsoever. We had started to fully understand one another’s perspectives, strengths, flaws and limitations. I guess we realized that even though we had opposite ideas, we were working towards the same goal. It was the best team work I had experienced in years.
Then I Googled Drake Baer, and found that he lives in Brooklyn, NY. One might not agree with me, but in my experience, confrontation (the 5 habits mentioned above) isn’t typically associated with “being Canadian”, yet my team achieved it.
Whether we’ll make our venture a global success or not, time will tell. Right now, we’re killing it!
Thank you, team VFF!