I did all of the right things, and yet I failed.
By age 13, I had decided I wanted to work in the film industry. By 15, I had decided I wanted to run a movie studio. By 17, I had read all of the appropriate books and conducted other necessary research, and created a solid 40-year plan to accomplish my studio goal. I graduated at the top of my class from the right college, had good internships every semester, networked and by 22 was working for one of the two people Entourage’s Ari Gold is based on. My name is in the credits on Sundance documentaries and wannabe blockbusters. But, I’m not a studio executive or anywhere near accomplishing the goal.
In the eight years between my decision to run a movie studio and my first real job, the film industry became unrecognizable. Changes in financing, technology and audience behavior mostly eclipsed the good storytelling I wanted to be a part of. I looked at the film industry landscape and realized that the job I was fighting for, the job in my plan, wasn’t going to exist by the time I had enough experience to accept it. So, a decade after creating my plan, I threw it away and started again.
The pace of today’s business means that long-term aspirational plans are misguided. The argument could be made that short-term ones are as well. Following a strict plan to accomplish a distant goal is as useful as attempting to grab a projected image. This is not to demean the goal, but blind pursuit interferes with the necessity of living and operating in the moment. To show up differently, we must live fully immersed professional lives. We must understand our core motivations and evolve our methods of aspiration realization to fit our evolving realities.
I moved to Germany after discarding my plan to figure out what to do next. After some soul searching, and the screening of too many poorly dubbed movies, I distilled what led me to the film industry in the first place: I love stories. I tested the most interesting areas where stories were being told, ending up in social and digital media where I have been happily working for years.
Change in digital communications is as constant as in film, save for the most important things: the aspects of a good story. Abiding by my career plan obscured my ability to tell good stories, while foregoing the plan enabled it. Today, I tell interesting stories. Tomorrow I will do the same, although in ways I cannot yet imagine, as planned.