The summer between my junior and senior years of college, I had applied to work as Production Assistant on an independent film back home in NYC. It was my first film job, and though unpaid, I was very excited to learn and be part of the magic of moviemaking.
In the midst of pre-production, just two days before we were to begin filming, the Producer quit! The Director looked around and said, “Who knows how to be a Line Producer?” Without a moment’s hesitation, I said “Me!” Just as quickly, I was handed the pre-production binder, and given a new title. My career had begun!
For the next couple of days, and throughout the seven day shoot, I barely slept. I worked and read, and learned and asked questions. Most importantly, where there were problems, I used the resources at my disposal to create solutions. It was very hard work. But this experience led to a fellowship later that summer with some heavy hitters in LA, and that in turn, led to new opportunities and experiences, opening up a whole world to me.
But was this simply luck working in my favor, or was there something else at work here?
One of my mentors explained this brilliantly. At a recent pitch meeting the client asked if he had specific experience doing the job he was proposing to do for them. “No,” he said. “I’ve never done this specific thing before. But you’re not hiring me for that. You’re hiring me for my experience and my ability to navigate this process for you.”
If I had been unsure of my ability to be a great Line Producer, I never would have taken on that position. But I knew myself – my creativity, my willingness to learn, read, and ask lots of questions, and I knew I had managed teams and projects before. I knew I had the ingredients needed to get the job done. As it turned out, I learned more about hands-on production in that first job than in any of my college courses.
The practice of saying yes before being ready has been one of the biggest sources of blessing in my life, and has opened me up to a myriad of beautiful opportunities and experiences – marriage, starting my own business, moving out of the city – that I likely never would have had, if I had always waited to be “ready.” After all, being ready is a myth. I’ve learned that you’re never really ready for something until you’re doing it. Jump into life, and be willing to embrace it’s sacred messiness.