Saturday, October 22, 2011

Combine OK! Combine OK!

Learning to work in a team was one of the last things I was able to learn in the past five years. Was very difficult. Very very difficult.

I have problems letting go. Once I get into something or a project, I get obsessed, which ultimately is not good for the thing, the project, people connected to the thing/project or even to myself. Looks kinda nice when you slave over it, and sure would impress the hell out of everybody... and then I'd get hospitalised or swear blood vengeance on every member of the human race. Been there. Hated that.

I once followed a personal vendetta project for nine long fucking years. Some people asked me whether I was vindictive. I was not vindictive, I was vengeful. Nine long fucking years, man. And I won't get a second of it back.

I built my career on the thought that if other people didn't do their jobs or complete their part or share of the work, or just plain incompetent, then I would carry it myself, kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. I thought that was cool. It's not. It was dumb. And I got four hospital bills to prove it.

In journalism, I liked it, because most of the body of work comes from you sitting alone, with your information, notes and your thoughts and experience, and you let it rip. No idiots to ruin your shit, no stupid people yapping up and down with their silly, stupid dramas. Just you and a PC (FUCK Apple!).

Writing articles is fantastic because it allows me to work alone and also to contain my obsessive nature to only one thing at a time. It's like playing hot potato - a game I never played. Pretty soon, though, many other things come into play.

I was lucky enough after leaving my first job at my first paper, to land a position managing 21 people - thanks to those who know who they are. I was even luckier as it came around the time I got seriously into film production.

Production taught me one thing: while it is desirable that you perform well at your own work, and that individual excellence is often enough to establish yourself, to do something great (or if the project sucks, to do something on a greater scale), you have to work with a team.

Film is a collaborative medium. Actually, everything is a collaborative medium. Even after I finish writing this and upload it online, the form and soul of this article only takes shape within your own minds. Readers are the writers' greatest collaborators.

Yes, I figured out that I would have to allow people - most of them I already dismissed as total morons. Nothing personal, I just think everyone's stupid, except me - to be part of the process.

As always, I thought, "Okay, I'll give it a try." Which resulted in me having insomnia for three years as my brain charts everything that everyone in the projects could do wrong. This shrank my gigantic balls. For years, I was scared shitless.

Teamwork comes from trust, and trust comes from knowing people. Oh, I so loathed people. I still do. With their silly little minds and schemes they think so ingenious, but are always roughly equivalent to what the best kindergartener from my Tadika Kemas could muster. I hate people. And then I had to study them. Oh. GAWD.

It's very simple, really. Humans are driven by the ego. Money, power, sex, are all just ego. Feeling good about yourself is ego. Feeling superior is ego. Feeling part of something bigger is ego. Feeling guilty is ego, because it shows that you are a good person, with a conscience. Every single thing in this world was done for your ego.

I fucking hated it.

But what really touched me was when getting input and changes from some people actually made my work even better. I'll give you an example - in the film MySpy, Adlin Aman Ramlie and Mamat Khalid delivered their lines their way. It was a total improvement from my original script. Fantastic stuff, man. If I had any doubts, I must acknowledge that these two are perhaps the best scriptwriters in Malaysia. These guys really understand dialogue, story and comic timing.

These examples, as well as my time in the hospital after putting myself through hell, convinced me that I can't and shouldn't do everything on my own. Of course, idiots and morons are out of the question, but I believe if you allow people space and responsibility - freedom - within a large-scale project, it could work really well.

So I went on preaching freedom and gave it to a lot of people. The results vary, depending on what kind of people they are. One of my dreams have always been to create a system that would work even without me in it. Cause I don't want to be hospitalised for stress again.

The problem is that we are all different, with different goals and shit. The variety that keeps us strong also comes with it a fatal flaw - the incapability of duplication or standardisation. I loathe - I hate things that are 'organic'. Nebulous, ephemeral - hate, HATE, HATE!!!

I did not understand how or why some people could react so negatively to freedom until I read the comic book Kingdom Come by Alex Ross and Mark Waid. Orion was Darkseid's son. After killing his own father and liberating Apokalips, he established a democracy for the planet's denizens, to take them out of the cycle of violence and jungle law that defined Darkseid's rule.

The response? They basically re-instituted jungle law through democracy, electing the strongest of them to lead, which happens to be Orion. He had to go and have holograms teaching them to hate him, in order to continue instilling free will - the antithesis of Darkseid's era.

So, what have I learned? Individuals can make good things, but to achieve great things, it takes a whole bunch of individuals being excellent on their own and to each other.

Trust is the cornerstone of teamwork, and to achieve trust, you must understand people and people must understand you. Communication and information flow is vital. I have seen many projects - not mine - that failed simply because insecure people lie to each other and hide vital information from one another. I'm not talking about information like how many times you masturbate to Celine Dion, but vital work data. Pisses me off when I don't have data or inundated with inaccuracies.

Freedom is vital, but only to those who seek freedom. I believe masochists and people who do not want to take responsibility for their actions - preferring to blame everything on any number of factors and excuses - will only abuse, misuse and shit on freedom. People who do not understand gratitude and honesty, people with no souls, are a lost cause.

In the end, since I can't surmise everything into a neat little slogan, I guess I have yet to learn anything. I just like to wank.