Ask Adam Savage: A Caution Against the "Comparing Mind"

Publicerades den 18 apr 2021
Tested member End of the Trail Outdoors & Arts asked Adam, "You always seem to have a game plan of the exact material you are going to use before you begin [a build]. Is this part of your pre planning or does this come natural to you from years of experience working with different materials?" Here's Adam's answer, which turns philosophical (as Adam's answers often do). Join this channel to support Tested and get access to perks, like asking Adam a question:
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  • Join this channel to support Tested and get access to perks, like asking Adam a question: More Ask Adam videos here:

    • @Wild Cascadia Radio I agree

    • Fabulous question! Thank you very much for covering this ♡♡♡ 🤜🏻👍🤛🏻

    • The comparing mind has one thing it says when watching someone else do anything you have done and its "why didn't i do that its so simple i am such an idiot" you should only have one thing going through your mind "how can i do this?" because there is a saying "Experience is the best teacher" learning how not to do something has given major scientific breakthroughs in history.

    • Hi Adam, how you doing

    • @Adam Savage’s Tested oh ok

  • “ Your experience is the only one you have access to.” What wonderfully profound words!🙂

  • I’d get more depressed when I see a movie with a bad screenplay because of the comparing mind. “If they can get *that* produced, and nobody would touch my work...”

  • An hour and a half video of Adam just staring at pieces of wood while he just thinks and occasionally mumbles would be the perfect April Fool's or "Yule Log" video.

  • So, what is the difference between "planning" and "pre-planning"? Are you planning before you are planning?

    • I thought pre-planning was "research" and choosing methodology.

  • "if you're always trying to be like someone else, you'll always be way below your possibilities" He-Man I gotta say, I can't argue with that.

  • Love ya Adam

  • I had an old art table given to me from a high school .it was the coolest table I ever had. The creativity was infused into it. Just sitting next to I was instantly creative never bored. Always being creative.

  • "Your experience is the only one you have access to." I generally agree with you most of the time, but here you are WRONG! :o) We are watching you and benefitting from your experience. Thanks!

  • Again sitting here with a large smile on my face. You sure know how to nail it. If there is anyone being good in being himself it is you. Love it.

  • Adam Savage . . . the Aristotle of the 21st century! Preach on!!!!

  • 5:30 a version I've heard is "If you don't try to fit in, you don't have to compete"

  • When I train people at work I try to establish the benchmarks and give context as to how fast one will ultimately be expected to get a job done, but a big part of it is letting them find their own way of getting the job done in a way that works for them. If they run into issues I try to share some tips and tricks, but ultimately everyone has to find their own path that works for them. As long as the goal is reached, the test is irrelevant

  • wow I 100% needed to hear that

  • "I am not a comedian" - Adam Savage Sorry Adam, I've seen your shows. That is a lie!!!

  • comparing mind is a symptom of our brainwashing by aspirational psychology. aspirational psychology - its taken me 50 years of living on the planet to work out - its why everything is broken. Fitness and Beauty magazines use it, Higher Education uses it, nagging parents use it, frienemies use it. You are supposed to self improve at all times, and, get rid of people who bring you down. Leads to isolation, unhappiness, and, makes you consume and buy stuff to fill the hole it creates. its made that way on purpose...its a corporate strategy and probably the biggest argument against capitalism....look what it creates. A society of unhappy lonely people

  • Great advice. "Comparison is the thief of joy." is a quote I always try to keep in mind for this type of thing.

  • The guy doesn't understand editing. He thinks what he sees is how it happens.

  • Thanks for making the point about artistry: If you're putting yourself into it, people can't copy you. Because they'll never be you.

  • There is a certain sadness that comes from realizing that you'll never be as good at something as someone else no matter how hard you work. But constantly comparing yourself to the best is a recipe for disappointment. You gotta measure your happiness and your progress, not your position in world wide ranking. Almost everyone is average-ish.

  • Ooof. I really felt this. As a once-was musician I get mixed feelings when I listen to the best, one feeling is great because I love it, another is awful because I'm not that capable.

  • Adam, from Australia, I've watched your latest videos, are you okay? I see someone upset..... just thought I'd ask!

  • @Adam: How acurate is your tatoo.

  • Should be titled: "Philosophy with Adam Savage"

  • Thinking competitively can also be healthy. You're not going to learn unless you look at how other people are doing things.

  • This. The guys that I work are all quite young and get frustrated easily because they haven't developed their process (or how your process changes) and they need to realize that they have their own abilities and they will also grow into all of it.

  • Fantastic advice. I find myself comparing my painting to others all the time... and feeling sad when others succeed where I feel I failed. Im really going to take this advice to heart and try to change that thought process. Thank you Adam, I really needed that. ^-^

  • It always feels like I'm there with you having these conversations. Y'are such a wonderful being. Thank you for every story you have to share

  • The most important video you've ever made.

  • Thank you for this. Coming from what seems to be a constant comparing mind it brings my mind to a bit more of an ease knowing I'm not the only one. Thank you Mr. Savage, you always have been and always will be an inspiration.

  • Go with what works for you. Not about what is better or worse. Just what works.

  • My brain got stuck on a comparison today. I new it was a "false equivalency" but my brain took it for a quick ride down in the dumps. Pieces from projects were jumping out of my hands and hiding. I'd have been better off to have taken a nap. Now there's a design process, that not quite awake lucid thinking where the pieces come together and "Yreka, we didn't I see that before?" happens.

  • It's a great life philosophy, to be the 'best' person you can be you need to work on being 'you' and not a copied version of somebody else.

  • On the flying by the seat of your pants, I don't watch the one day builds often, but I remember Adam going "oh!" And running off to grab something fairly often

  • I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that your first attempt at making something does not have to be your only or last try. If it is a really important work and it does not come out how you wanted to then do it again. If that iteration is not all you want it to be then do it again. Do it as many times as it takes until you have created your vision. You do not have to get it 100% right on the first try. That's why pencils have erasers.

  • That’s some typical lefty brainwashed advice: “beware the comparing mind”, you can only understand your lived experience, your truth is your truth...blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. The comparing mind is how you improve yourself, your product, your ideas, etc. It’s how you know if something is better or worse than what’s out there. It’s also how you know how good what you have is. Now obviously there’s an extreme version of this that’s not good for your mind/self. But I don’t think most people are in danger of that. The base idea of merit, requires that your work/ideas/products are compared to the rest, as well as your own past work/ideas/products. Otherwise you get things like a gold toilet called “America” as “High Art” at the Guggenheim.

    • What the hell are you talking about? Seriously? Yes to some extent they emulated technique, at least to learn and improve upon it, that doesn’t limit their creativity with that technique. That’s why Masters had Apprentices, they all studied and learned from each other. You can also study and improve upon your own work. Why isn’t some kids crayon outlined hand, turned into a Turkey for thanksgiving, hanging next to the Mona Lisa? If there’s a hierarchy within any social structure, institution, or field it requires a certain baseline of comparison. Adam wasn’t saying to never compare yourself to the next guy, his point was don’t obsess about it to the extent that it limits your work or creativity. As a matter of fact he’ll admit freely when working on Star Wars the artists/makers would always be looking at what the next guy was doing and trying to do better or outdo them in some way.

    • @BiG BeAR So in your view the only man-made things of superior quality were created by those who studied their competiton to emulate them seeking to outdo them? Meaning the creation of the Mona Lisa was just one artist mechanically taking this technique from a second artist and that technique from a third artist and the resulting product _just happened_ to "competitively outshine" the products of the second and third artists?

    • Seems like what I said actually went over your head. Nothing in what I said has anything to do with what you just regurgitated. What you’re suggesting is exactly what I was referring to that gets results like the gold toilet as high art. What I’m talking about is what produced the Mona Lisa.

    • Wow, it all went complety over your head. I suspect you're not a creative person looking to be inspired, you just study the competition to decide what to emulate.

  • I don't think the "comparing mind" is a uniquely American thing, I think it is a human thing, generally speaking. Culturally maybe some repress it more, but it is there.

  • Thats similar to how I work. I'll sit and stare at the floor for a couple hours and think about it then start just grabbing random pieces and laying them out. Even as I'm building stuff I'm adding and removing, I'll stop and look at it for a few minutes. I have very little experience building or creating stuff but its always been a passion of mine ever since I was a kid. I once took an rc car I had and made it into a rc boat. It could only turn on and off and move the one direction but it floated and moved around the tub.

  • Thanks so much for that Adam

  • Watch 3:49 - 3:52 at 0.25x speed, to see the magic block in action.

  • Hey, Adam- i too, say that comedians make good actors, along with singers.

  • As good as myth busters was, and it was incredible, this series is sooooo much more for me. Thank you for these videos. I love watching you, I love listening, and love learning from you. Thank you.

  • Thank you for introducing more generations to Bill Hicks.

  • Wow. Such good advice, I wrote it in my journal.

  • I try not to be of the comparitive mind. Im always looking for insight on fluidity of my builds. Thank you for your time answering my question sir.

  • "Comparison is a thief of joy" is a favourite aphorism of mine. Who among us has such a wealth of joy these days that they would invite a thief in?

  • Thanks. Needed that today.

  • Thanks for this one. I've really been struggling with this problem lately. I think the urge for comparison gets stronger as you get older. It's hard to ignore that voice of "What did your parents achieve at your age?" or "What have your classmates achieved?"

    • Those two questions never bothered me and I'm 40. What always bothered me is kind of worse and disrupts the creative process at every level. I begin a project and I know the finished product will be judged and compared so every project is either not completed or (if someone would be left in the lurch) the remaining stages is just a chore to throw something together. It even cost me two university degrees since I can't even write essays or study for tests anymore.

  • I rewatched the iron giant recently with my daughter. And now I saw a video where you create a giant bolt. Makes me think the bolt from the iron giant would be a cool one day build for you.

  • The wisest thing to be on every wise person's list is to invest in different streams of income that are not dependent on the government to generate money

    • Believe me he's the best when it comes to Crypto currency trading your profits is assured

    • Have been seeing a lot of people talking about him on twitter how good is he

    • I've worked with 4traders but none of them is efficient as he's outstanding with trust he's strategies are awesome.

    • Well, thanks to Mr. Solomon, I am no longer in debt. His strategies are really good, so I say you give it a try and see for yourself.

    • I started trading with expect solomon a year ago with 1000 usd trust me have been making cool profits from cryptocurrency investment with his trading signals

  • Ok but I really love how he calls his builds stories.

  • That’s a tough one. I have been blessed to be a jack of all trades, but as the saying goes... master of none. While I have the talent to accomplish anything, I am never good enough at any one things to be the best of the best and that leads to a lot of frustration and the comparative mind you talk about. It’s hard to be happy when you think like that. Then I lose interest because I lose confidence and that’s probably why I’m in a safe good paying job that I hate doing... 🤷🏽‍♂️

  • 1:54 but I love those scenes! That moment when everything “clicks” and the lead up to it is so underrated.

  • Thank goodness there are people out there doing what we do that can blow us away. Modesty is a good quality. Envy is not. The greats are the gold standard to which we should all hold our ambitions to.

  • What a thoughtful answer! Great video. I do creative work, too, and I've always lived by (or tried to live by) what Johnny Carson once said- "Talent pleases ITSELF." If the work you're doing pleases YOU, you're on the right track. It's when we try to second-guess what we think our audience wants is when we get into trouble. This is what happens when someone makes derivative work. It's one thing to be influenced, but skipping the internalization part and going straight to imitation is DEATH.

  • Chasing perfect is a great life goal but it is important that it is your personal perfect and not someone else's opinion. Also to note, chasing perfect for an individual project usually leads to disappointment, missing recognizing when it is "good enough for this here and now" and can ultimately lead to missed deadlines. Accepting good enough but not perfect is not a failure but a realization that every project is a step on a bigger journey, not a destination in itself. Carry the learning to the next project and make that better and repeat.

  • This is by far my favorite segment you do. Love hearing responses to interesting questions. You always have a way of turning what one would expect to be a quick, simple answer into an interesting little story and reminder for people to take it easy on themselves.

  • Thanks for this, I’ve been struggling so much with comparisons, I’m a graphic design major and it’s been really hard for me to see my peers successful projects and not feel discouraged. Been trying to refocus my thoughts towards feeling proud of my growth as a designer and my strengths.

  • Wow, that went unexpected deep. Very appreciated!

  • I have been watching your channel for several years now. You have encouraged me to start my own SElists channel. It is coming along slowly but I am enjoying the journey. Thank you.

  • It's a little appreciated fact that 80% of the creative process is spent staring at the work.

  • The comparing mind is the heart of the scientific method. It is the heartbeat of science.

  • I would love a 1 hour video of adam just staring at a bunch of stuff on his work bench

  • I just get stuck in the pre-planning stage. My want to be different and stand out sets me on a path trying to reinvent the wheel so I feel like my project is somehow worthy.

  • This was tremendously beneficial information to hear. Holy smokes. Thank you.

  • Thanks for the Bill Hicks quote, exactly what I needed to hear. My creations, photos and videos have been copied, stolen and infringed worldwide. So I have been working on presenting my personal approach to my work, so that perspective helps reassure I am on the right path.

  • Awesome question and answer, what’s good for the goose? Shit in one hand, might be heavier in another.

  • Learning that life isn't a competition -- industry or work or whatever -- has been a lifesaver. Doing my own thing, in my own way, in ways that work for me (or for the situation I'm in) even if they're unconventional has helped so much. And Hicks is right: authenticity unlocks some wonderful rewards. If you let go of the fear of people judging you or not liking you, you'll feel so much better in yourself and in your work.

  • Heads up editor. Lights are too bright or ya need to bump up the contrast.

  • i think a full unedited start to end of a product would be pretty awesome to see. seeing failures/successes from an awesome builder would be pretty awesome no matter how long it takes

  • Such a good advice, I worked in a company that I was constantly being compared with others, in a lot of ways, not even as constructive criticism, and at the end that caused me a lot of stress, so I ended up quitting because the toxicity of that work environment made me just really miserable. After that, I have been working independant for a while and yes, there are challenges but I have been so much happier and I my creative process has gone so much better.. so yeah, if you are a manager/boss don't compare your employees Minds.

  • This is how I work: I love how things work. I think everone has this in them (curiosity) but my desire to understand how things work is very extreme/huge. To the point that it bothers me when I don't know how a thing works.. For example...why the Sun 🌞 floats in space.. You have to be an introvert. Introvertion is part of fiding beauty how things work. You wake up finding a solution and before you went to sleep, you thought of finding a solution. The onlder you get, the more knowledgeable you get but still can't stop learning new things. So I am all over the place ragarding knowled and not just in one place.. Examples: Computers Phones Wireless communication Refrigarators Car engines (gasoline/diesel) Paint guns Anatomy (the human heart is just a pump for blood...ppl don't love with their hearts but rather their minds lol) On the other side of the token, extroverts love to be the center of attention. They are the comedians. The ones that like many followers in social media... In my opinion...

  • Compare Yourself To Who You Were Yesterday, Not To Who Someone Else Is Today. -Jordan Peterson

  • I knew someone who once said "Don't compare your back yard to everyone else's front yard". It's a difficult lesson to learn.

    • Right now I am working on my front yard and it is a mess. I have a big debris pile in the middle of my yard. I'm just moving crap from one place to another. The middle of my yard is a stand of woods though. Most of the property is wooded in fact. You really can't see my front yard from the road either. But I can see it!

  • This is so similar to our Australian saying 'keeping up with the Jones's ". Frying to out do some one else. O find that bit never works

  • Bill Hicks!

  • Adam, I don't have any other way of asking this question so posted it here. Have you ever met or worked with anyone that has worked for Toho studios? I ask because yes, ILM makes amazing miniatures as does Weta. However, I have been on an 'old school' Godzilla viewing kick lately and I have to admit... Some of that model work is pretty amazing for it's day. Any comments or thoughts?

  • Thank you! That is one HUGE reason I have been a fan of yours for a long time! You never do the "I'm a Professional, and TV personality. You'll never be as good as me. mwahaha" No. You do the Opposite. "Im just a regular guy. No formal education. I screw up a lot!! You CAN be as good as me, if not better" :)

  • Adam (Normal Adam voice): "I am not a comedian..." Also Adam (Tiny Shmoo voice): "Ev'wybody be calm. This is a wobbewy..."

  • I do creation it in five parts. first, The idea, then, pencil drawing, then mediate on possibilities with my eyes closed, then sit and stare, and then do. I will sometimes go back over some of these steps. That way you can dispense with some of the faulty design before you start.

  • You sir are an elder.

  • The beauty of Adams shop builds is that they are not totally planned and there is no materials list the way most build shows have worked in the past. Its how i would imagine most non commercial craftspeople work. Certainly digging through the scraps and parts bins is part of everything i build.

  • Teddy Roosevelt said “comparison is the thief of Joy”

  • 🤜🏻👍🤛🏻♡♡♡

  • Love it! 👍👍❤️

  • I love that Adam speaks the way he describes building here.

  • It's taken me a while to figure out that I can learn from other people but can't really compare my work to theirs. I work with amazing set builders who I can't hold a candle to on speed or quality. Does it mean I can't build a set? No, I can build sets but I'm much better at other things such as electronics and lighting so given the option I'd prefer to work with amazing set builders and then do my best on the lighting and electrics

  • Thanks Adam for this, very succinctly put. I also love the positivity in the comments, all 'round.

  • 6:16 Insert emoji of Jamie raising one eyebrow

  • My best friend and I are polar opposite in this case. He is 1/3 planning, 2/3 tinkering. I'm the other way around. So working on projects together is really improving the projects. It took some years to really fit our different approaches together. But after 20 years: pure joy. Gears clicking, switching between planning and tinkering in seconds. Wordless conversations. One friend even called it magic. My best friend and I are truely thankfull for our connection. As friends and project partners.

  • What a beautiful statement. Only you can be you and that's a hard lesson to learn. Well said, Adam. Thanks.

  • "Just be careful of the Comparing Mind. Your experience is the only one you have access to." Adam Savage, 2021

    • To reach a small glimpse.

    • Then why do we all watch and listen to someone else's experience? Unsub.

  • I needed to see this.. my buddy casually told me his salary and its been nagging me for awhile, but I have my own life to live and enjoy.. I should be happy even if I cannot afford fancy brunches every weekend and destination trips every year.

    • Brunch? FFS. I've traveled quite a bit. Shits the same all over. 🙂

  • on "Movies with Mikey" there is a phrase I love. "No one knows what they're doing." Often times in examining a film it becomes obvious that where something started and what we ended up with are very different things. It points out that even the most talented directors and such sometimes have to make on the fly choices and non-optimal changes, and sometimes that fails and sometimes it is just the right thing. It means don't be afraid to do anything, because you're not sure you will succeed at something. It has given great perspective in my life where I often have imposter syndrome pop up when I screw up.

  • Cheers 🖖😊👍

  • Visualization is kinda like a knife 🔪that must be sharpened everyday and every project! "I reject your reality and substitute my own"-Adam Savage

  • Not to be forgotten, people who suffer from the inability to imagine things in their heads. Aphantasia is a hell of a lot more common than people think or know (until recently it was, and partly still is, undocumented). A lot of people don't even know they suffer from it, kinda like when you hear from someone with color blindness that they just find out they are, in fact color blind. So the mind is a very complicated thing, and trying to compare mind A with mind B might is difficult, comparing mind A with minds F, G, H, .... and so on, might as well be impossible. I wish there was more talk about this aspect. "Your experience is the only one you have access to." < gold truth that few put on paper, even trained professionals.

  • Comparing mind isn't toxic. Calling it toxic is a loser's mentality

    • Looking at what someone else has done and thinking that you will be unable to make something that is just as good is very toxic. Every professional I have ever listened to has said the same thing. Comparing your work with someone else's just makes people depressed and often makes them give up. Nothing good comes from it. You can learn from someone's work. But don't compare.

  • Comparing has a connotation of making a value judgement. The method I use for self improvement is different than comparing. I am constantly asking the question: "What can I lean from the observations I make while watching other people work (or play)." And at times, I do not do the analyses until hours or days later when the question becomes: "What new methods or techniques have I learned from watching someone else work." In hindsight, if it was memorable, it was valuable.

  • IDK Adam, maybe you could put an hour of footage of you staring at the workbench up on SElists and call it ASMR. Maybe turn the gain up so the HVAC is providing white noise? Just spitballing here...