Please tell me you’ve had days like this: everybody seems indifferent, at best, to what you feel like is excellent work. Maybe it’s a slow day in the studio. You have the decade’s absolute best call-in topic, and the phones are dead. Deader than Lazarus-the-second-time-he-died dead. (Did we ever confirm he even had a second death? Is he a zombie among us right now?) You’re the producer who nailed what could be an award winning promo. And on top of that, it’s 60.00000 seconds! You’re the GM who quietly just rescued the station from budget doom. Payroll will be met just like it always has been with nobody even sensing a hint of how close of a call it was this time.
Whatever the situation, you’ve had moments where what you were pulling off was more amazing than what all the Marvel Avengers have ever done on the big screen. And nobody noticed. Not Nielsen. Not the boss. The employees. The board. The only person aware of your amazing feats was you.
On those days, honestly, I just want to voice-track the rest of my show or do the bare minimum desk work and just leave. Nobody sees my value? I’m wallpaper to the audience? I’m a replaceable cog on my team? Why am I even bothering giving it 100%? I’m in radio! I need validation! (That’s probably why I got into radio; I’m too cheap to shell out for a therapist to know for sure though.)
Sure, there are some days where a reset is healthy. An early escape from the building, the studio, etc. Only you know where you cross the line from a healthy reset to defeatedly throwing in your towel. Here’s what keeps me going when it’s a towel throwing situation:
- I try relishing the (very) solo moment. Because it won’t be long before I’m bouncing between more things or people than I like handling at once. (Long distance high five to my fellow introverts.) Creativity can thrive in our quiet moments. In our tension. God visits us when we wait. Be that a wait for a killer phone call or the recognition we crave. In fact, we’re often told in the Bible that waiting is integral to sensing God’s presence in our lives.
- (Cue the old Big Daddy Weave song.) I try not to forget, I’m performing for an audience of One. I’m doing excellent radio for my creator. Not for ratings. Not for blinking phone lines. Not for budget growth. Not for praise from my peers. I’ve noticed when I’m feeling especially low about a slow show, it’s because I’ve changed my focus from showing off for God to showing off for others. To make the phones ring. To increase my credibility with an industry who probably isn’t listening anyhow.
When I was an often-grounded teenager, I programmed some mind-blowing pirate radio stations. Once, in 7th grade, I think the people in the apartment below ours listened. (They probably couldn’t get enough of my Mark Mark & the Funky Bunch-DC Talk-Public Enemy-Stevie B quarter hours.) Ratings and props from peers was the furthest thing from my mind back then. I was doing (what I thought was) perfect radio simply for the joy of it. I had no request lines. Social media didn’t exist. Never heard of Arbitron. It was just me, God, and contentment. (Plus a dual cassette boombox wired into a Radio Shack mixer.)
It’s inevitable. Your audience and coworkers will once again seem oblivious to your stellar efforts. But they won’t go unnoticed to the only one you were born to perform for in the first place. Find joy and contentment in serving Him with excellence. The rest is just a bonus.