What I'm Here For
I'm going to try to summarise M.A.S.S, which is a little concept I have just started using as a means to try and cultivate what I'm here for, in a professional sense, in a bid to make better choices about the work I do and collaborations I seek out. Not that anything is particularly bad, but in less happy times it's always good to have a base purpose that I can fall back on and refer to.
M.A.S.S. stands for Meaningful, Autonomous, Self, Satisfaction. It encapsulates what I'm trying to bring to the table in terms of my work, my professionalism. It's curious in a way because it transcends working with sound, with audio, with stories, and with creating experiences (which is what I actually do on most days), and so is applicable across the board. I think it indicates, as I have often suspected, that I could be happy do a number of different career paths, not necessarily with sound. However, sound is what I am probably best at, if only by virtue of the fact that it's something I've dedicated an awful lot of time to, first through music and listening, creating and producing, and latterly more through sound creation and sound design.
Meaningful. Good - great - work is meaningful. Always. It encourages, if not forces, those who experience, purchase, or otherwise consume it appreciate its existence, or its consequences. Good or great work hopefully positivity, positive thoughts, positive actions, however small. Good or great work may serve as an example of how to be good or great more broadly, and foster a set of values. Creating good - or great - work creates impact. That impact may be small, but it contributes positively. In the crowded online and offline spaces that we inhabit, simple, positive impact should not casually dismissed.
Autonomous. We all probably aspire to a little bit of autonomy in our work, no matter what we do. I remember reading Malcolm Gladwell's XXX many years ago, and one of the chapters started by reflecting on what people need to feel happy in their work. One of those things was a degree of autonomy. The right to choose make decisions, in the belief that the decisions I make will be good ones (even if, admittedly, they won't be good all the time, or might take a little time to come around. I believe in my good ideas and the right to make them to good ends in my work, both for myself and others.
Self. Well, first and foremost I do this work for myself. If not, I could - and possibly would - do something else. Doing something else (probably) means losing more autonomy than I'm willing to, so I do 'this' for myself. I do this because it seems to me like the best possibility to get the best out of myself professionally, knowing the type of person I am, how I like to work, and how I tend to (not) get on so well working in organisations, or institutions.
Satisfaction. Again, satisfaction has to be a big part of it. If not, why not do something else? The satisfaction comes from creating good and great, meaningful work that I have had a hand in determining the outcome of to a greater or lesser degree, as the case may be. That work, which plays to the strengths of my personality and character, and creates the desire to do even better work with even more impactful results.