In my last post, I shared my story. Thank you so much for all of you who contacted me regarding how my story touched your life. I am so grateful to have had the chance to share it. Now we get back to film making. I'm fairly new to the film making community, but I have to say how amazing everyone has been. I've really enjoyed meeting people for coffee, brunch, and late night chats. What strikes me about all of these people is their commitment to storytelling and their unique perspectives.
In a few weeks, I'll be holding an auction of movie/TV memorabilia to raise funds for my next three movies. I'm current reaching out to Michigan celebrities for these items, although I may go beyond, and I am looking forward to a really amazing event. Keep checking back for updates.
For now, I want to talk about the idea of labels. Normally, I tell people not to label themselves and I've got a great story about someone I know who has been wearing a label of victim and failure due to being fired from her dream job, but before I tell that story, I want to share a new twist. In his workshops, Dov Siemens (if you don't know him GOOGLE his name because he is definitely well worth knowing) immediately tells students to label themselves as producers, directors, writers, whatever role you plan to play in film making. I loved that idea and when I took his course, I jumped on it right away. The problem was that I didn't actually believe it. It actually took me a few years before I felt like I could claim the title of executive producer and an encounter this past week has made me wonder about that process. You see, I, like many other people, easily adopt negative labels. It's easy to call yourself a failure. A loser. The list goes on and on. But for now as you are working on your film career, I want to challenge you to take a cue from Dov and call yourself something positive and really mean it.
This past week I ran into a woman who had been my supervisor many years ago before I went out onto my own. She hired and trained me at the company. After working with her for almost three years, I heard she had been fired as a part of a "mass blood-letting" by the company. I want to be extremely respectful to her here, so I'm going to be a bit vague and I'm going to use a fake name, but there is a very important lesson to be found in my recent encounter with her and it's been on my mind all week, which is why I am sharing this.
She was let go, and I was promoted. I was not a part of the decision making process, so I never knew very much, but a few days after she was fired I ran into her. To say she was angry would an understatement. She tried to be kind to me, but I also got a sense that her anger rain over onto me. That was fine, though, because I could easily see where she'd be upset. We chatted that day and I shared my dream of going out onto my own and offered to share the resources I was gathering for my big move. She declined. We parted ways.
I hadn't given her much thought until this recent encounter. There was still a tinge of anger obvious in her, and her life had not progressed significantly from where she was when we last spoke. Hearing this sent a chill down my spine. I remember hearing a quote a long time ago that said something to the effect of having problems means you're human, but having the same problems year after year means you've got a full-blown crisis. I'm not saying it as eloquently as the original quote, but the point is the same. (Hey, if you know this quote, please contact me!)
Hearing the tinge of anger and seeing that she hadn't progressed seemed heart breaking to me, but I understand. I've been there. Years ago I read the book "Forgive for Good" and began to work on the art of forgiving myself and others in my life. Pain can hold a person in the same spot for years...even for a lifetime. The irony is that we get angry at someone or something for ruining our lives and then we make a commitment to this vision and live it out. Getting fired is unpleasant, and the actual firing was possibly out of your control, but how you handle it and how you proceed is 100% in your hands.
I've really been thinking about that lesson this past week. Now, I'm not in that woman's shoes and I can't tell her what to do, but if she would hear me, I'd love to tell her that she is amazing and my time working for her made me a better person. I believe she is capable of great things, but you know what? The only person who can make the decision regarding what she is capable of is her. That's true for us all.
Tony Robbins has taken some heat lately for making a statement about not defining yourself as a victim. I see his point. Being a victim is terrible and I would never want to minimize anyone's pain or struggle, but at the same time, I know for a fact that negative labels limit. So, I will leave you here with the words that my favorite writing teacher used to say to me at the end of class: Get the hell out of here. Go and be amazing. (He was a bit rough around the edges! LOL!)
Lynne M. Smelser is an executive producer and scriptwriter. For more than 20 years she has been an active writer who has won many national awards. She also holds a Ph.D. in English from Michigan State University.