10 Powerful Personal Growth Tips Learned in the Industry

10 Powerful Personal Growth Tips I Learned in the Industry
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Personal growth is something not often associated with going to work, but the workplace can actually transform us in unexpected ways.  Especially in the entertainment industry, where the people we work with and the locations we work in are constantly changing.  In the film industry, we often work with a wider variety of people in a few years than many people do in their entire careers.  That continuously evolving environment taught me skills that I would never have thought I needed.

The world of film production includes an abundance of creative personalities you won’t find in your average office workplace.  Being able to deal effectively with all those diverse personalities day after day requires flexibility and very thick skin.  The entertainment industry is not an ideal field for overly sensitive people.

Here are 10 powerful personal growth tips I learned working in the industry:

  1. Embrace change.

This one was hard for me, as we all want some level of certainty in our lives.  Even though I thought I was flexible, when I was first faced with working at different locations just about every day, I found it very challenging.  Especially since I often had to solve unanticipated problems at each location.  People or equipment might not arrive when expected or the location itself might be problematic.  Once I stopped being so fearful of what might happen, I actually began to enjoy the variety of places and challenges I was being given every day.  It began to energize me, and still does today.  Now I consider myself very fortunate to have had such a wide variety of work experiences.  Much personal growth comes by embracing change.

Book: The Adaptation Advantage: Let Go, Learn Fast and Thrive in the Future of Work; by Heather E. McGowan and Chris Shipley

Purchase it here.

  1. Stay focused through long hours of work.

Most people work an 8 or 10 hour workday.  In our industry, 14 plus hour days are common.  We’re often on our feet and under stress for much of that time.  Working day after day in these conditions isn’t good for our health, but it did teach me to stay focused on the task at hand.  I never would have learned this working in an office.

Book: Concentration: Staying Focused in Times of Distraction (The MIT Press); by Stefan Van Der Stigchel

Purchase it here.

  1. Have confidence in my decisions.

The ability to make the best decisions quickly based on the information available at the time is a skill many people lack.  We all make decisions every day on set.  I often watched people far more experienced than I make decisions that I knew wouldn’t work.  It was a valuable learning tool for me and gave me confidence in my own decision making.  I figured if these experienced people had such mediocre decision making skills, I could do at least as well.  Make the best decisions you can at the time and have confidence in them.

  1. Deal with difficult personalities.

I can’t think of another industry with as many kooky, creative, volatile personalities as the entertainment industry.  As an assistant director, I’ve dealt with more than my share of them.  I’ve had to chase actors on horseback who rode away, even though they knew their scene was coming up.  I’ve dealt with screaming fits, crying jags and temper tantrums.  I even had an angry chimp chase me back stage when I was in an ice show.  I learned not to take any of this personally.  Once I accepted that all the drama wasn’t really directed at me, I was able to step back and observe.  That’s a serene place to be in the midst of all the craziness.

Book: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In; by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury

Purchase it here.

  1. Be able to concentrate in any environment.

As I look back on the jobs I’ve had over the years, I realize that rarely did the assistant directors have an office where we could do paperwork.  That meant that I had to do all the paperwork of the job wherever I could find space.  Often, the set dressing crew was working and playing their music nearby or there was a swirl of other activity I had to work around.  In the days of hand written call sheets (yes, call sheets used to be written by hand), I remember working on the call sheet on set while running the background.  I gained the ability to concentrate well enough to read or write anywhere.  No matter the noise or activity around me.  It’s a valuable skill worth cultivating.

  1. Solve problems quickly and take action.

Working in such varied environments in our industry almost guarantees that problems will arise that need to be solved quickly.  It’s sometimes necessary to build something on the fly, do an unexpected re-light or reschedule a scene.  We don’t have the luxury of slowly pondering a problem.  It’s often like working on a complicated puzzle that has to be solved while the sand in an hourglass flows.  I learned to think quickly in this environment and it’s served me well.  Time is money, after all.

Book: Learn to Think Using Riddles, Brainteasers and Wordplay: Develop a Quick Wit, Think More Creatively and Cleverly, and Train Your Problem-Solving Instincts; by Patrick King

Purchase it here.

  1. Stay calm under pressure when others are in a frenzy.

It’s amazing how many people, including some who’ve been in the industry for many years, do not deal well with pressure.  Considering how often we’re under pressure, you think they’d have learned to stay calm by now.  I even had another a.d. scream at me once because I was remaining calm while he was panicking.  Remaining calm not only helps us stay focused, it’s far better for our mental health.  Let others do their panic dance.  I’ll stay calm and focused on the task at hand.

Book: The Stress Management Handbook: A Practical Guide to Staying Calm, Keeping Cool, and Avoiding Blow-Ups; by Eva Selhub M.D.

Purchase it here.

  1. Don’t apologize for things that aren’t my fault.

I don’t understand why so many people, especially women, feel the need to apologize all the time.  I was guilty of this, too.  I found myself apologizing too much, even for things that weren’t my fault.  Over apologizing indicates low self-esteem.  If you make a mistake, apologize, fix it and move on.  Work is stressful enough without adding more pressure to your day.

  1. Meditate daily.

I’ve meditated daily for over 30 years now, and probably couldn’t have survived the industry with my sanity intact if I didn’t.  Even meditating for only 10 minutes can have an enormous positive effect on our brains.  Meditation allows us to start the day in a calm state of mind.  I found that to be essential, especially when I knew I’d be under pressure all day.  The Dalai Lama once said that if we taught all children to meditate in kindergarten, it would change the world for the better.  I couldn’t agree more.

Book: Practicing Mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health, and Find Peace in the Everyday; by Matthew Sockolov

Purchase it here.

  1. Express gratitude.

When I realized that my worst day on set was far better than most people’s jobs, expressing gratitude was easy.  We’re well paid in our industry for working in challenging, but creative and interesting surroundings.  Every day is different and we get to work with a wide variety of people.  Work is fast-paced and rarely boring.  The creative class is defined as people who actively participate in the act of content creation.  As work goes, being part of the creative class is a rewarding learning experience.  I'm grateful for it.

Book: The Gratitude Journal for Women: A Beautiful Keepsake Journal for Women to Choose Gratitude; by Paper Peony Press

Purchase it here.

That’s my summary of the 10 personal growth tips I learned in the industry.  What tips do you have based on what you’ve learned?

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links here are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission on any purchases. This helps cover the expenses of running this blog.


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