It’s Not Your Tools, Blame Shifter

A poor craftsman blames his tools. Stings, doesn’t it? But there’s no nice way to say it. You can’t sugarcoat it. 

When we fail, our pride prevents us from coming to terms with our own abilities. Then we go scapegoat hunting. Tools are typically the most present, easy targets—after all, they got us into this mess, right? You can’t take good photos? It’s because of your crappy camera. You can’t play that riff? You need better gear. You can’t squash that programming bug? It’s because [insert programming language of choice here] sucks. Surely the problem isn’t you.

Rarely do we have the guts to admit we are inept (however temporarily) for the task at hand. Our default posture is to fling blame anywhere it might stick. Blameshifting masks our own shortcomings. It’s the only logical place for insecurity to go. Shift, shift, shift, like a game of hot potato—do anything to make sure the blame potato doesn’t land in your lap. But if you shift for long enough, you start to think nothing is your fault, that nothing should be demanded of you, and that the tools should do the work for you.

You are the only one who’s ultimately responsible for shaping your skills or ideology. Good tools can help, certainly, but they can’t be the source—they’re inanimate objects. They do very little without human direction and action. Don’t blame your tools for your apathy or your lack. It’s your lack. A better craftsman would work wonders with the tools you despise. “The tone is in the touch” seasoned musicians often (rightly) say. It’s always about the craftsman.

So what’s wrong with your tools? It doesn’t matter. How about what’s wrong with you? Why can’t you execute? Why can’t you get traction? Why aren’t you improving? What do you need to learn? Get comfortable with self-critique. If it’s difficult for you to be objective, ask for help and seek wisdom outside of yourself.

Worry more about using the tools than the nature of the tools. Take responsibility for your own shortcomings and fix them (or re-calibrate into a different field). Fancy tools will always be a smokescreen unless you’re using them to do actual work.