I remember being a child and being totally amazed seeing a man lie in a bed of nails on television. That can’t be real, I thought. They’re fake nails. But then, if they’re fake, why aren’t they bending or breaking under his weight? But if they’re real, why aren’t they going right through him?!
I know now, of course, that the weight distribution means that this nails can support a man without putting so much pressure on one nail that it would pierce the skin. Still, that’s amazing in its own way.
Somewhere between 15 and 20 years ago I was in a job interview. “Yes, of course,” I lied, to the question of whether I am a ‘team player’. I wondered if he’d see through me. The truth is, I do things my own way. I feel I’m at my best when not working with the systems of others but, instead, creating systems that work for me and the best interests of whatever project I am working on. So I have never seen myself as a team player.
Just me, my projects and the audience.
When you really care about what you do, and I do, the pressure can be immense. Every problem hurts. Every setback becomes a sleepless night. Every person who doesn’t share your vision becomes a potential threat. Every choice is a worry - am I doing the right thing? What happens if this all goes wrong? Being perfectly honest, it can break you down. I could be too much for one person to take on, especially if that person hasn’t had a break in a long time.
It’s like you’re a single nail and you’re trying to support a massive weight. If you don’t really have that strength, you’ll bend or break. If you do, you’ll pierce that weight and it will come down on top of you.
I’ve been feeling that lately.
But then I look around me. I see top creative talent working with me to create some amazing artwork. I see someone giving up their time to scour the country (and internet) for the best voice talent. I see a composer taking hours between a tour schedule to create beautiful, fun music. I see a producer putting all his faith in us and looking for creative and innovative ways of making it all happen. I see a broadcaster giving all they can to help it all come together. Everywhere I look, I see more and more people offering to help and no end of words of support and encouragement.
And I realise, it’s not me, one nail, and this massive weight. And it’s not even that these people are supporting me – reinforcing that single nail wouldn’t affect the outcome. It’s that each one of those people is a nail, just like me.
We are a bed of nails.
I am just one nail among many and, together, we’re supporting a man lying comfortably on top. In doing so, we’ll amaze an audience! And it turns out I am a team player after all.
To my fellow nails, I appreciate each and every one of you.
When it’s all getting too difficult, it’s worth taking a look not up at that weight you’re supporting, but around you. Because, like me, you may find you’re not alone. You’re a bed of nails, whether you planned it or not.
And, if you are, you’ll do just fine.