The thought of a “path” can be a little bit misleading. Just the name implies that there’s a clearly marked way to go, or maybe even a route backward toward where we came from. We all know that’s not the case. Finding our way can be a confusing, wayward, and terrifying experience — more like navigating a maze than anything else.
In our latest video, Director Lauren Sick breaks down the myth that there’s a clean, easy trajectory towards becoming who you were “meant” to be. In reality, it’s a drawn-out process that ultimately ends with an answer to this question: “Who are you?” As creatives trying to find our place in a career, this question is as important as it gets.
Spoiler alert: Lauren did find her place. As a director, she’s collaborated with Nike, New Balance, Google, and more — not to mention artists like Chromeo and MØ. In other words, she’s thriving on her path, which also means we can learn a lesson or two from her journey.
So, using Lauren’s video as a starting point, we decided to break down what it takes to be proactive in choosing your own path and maybe make that maze just a little simpler.
1. Test the Waters
Music. Dance. Directing. Producing. Art Directing.
Lauren tried a lot of different things before she landed on “director” as the path for her career. And that’s not by accident. Choosing our path doesn’t happen in a single moment. In fact, it happens continually over the course of our lives as we whittle away at the person we were meant to be. Author Steven Pressfield explains it nicely in The War of Art:
“We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become. We are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it. Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”
Lauren didn’t know she wanted to be a director until she worked as a producer. The point is, we can’t know who we are (or who we aren’t) until we test out our theories in the field.
2. Be Self-Aware
So, what do you get from testing our the waters and finding out what does and doesn’t work? You get perspective, which is possibly the most valuable currency in the life of a creative. Anthony K. Tjan, with the Harvard Business Review, agrees:
“There is one quality that trumps all, evident in virtually every great entrepreneur, manager, and leader. That quality is self-awareness. The best thing leaders can [do] to improve their effectiveness is to become more aware of what motivates them and their decision-making.”
So, be honest with yourself. Have you enjoyed your time as a DP? Are you actually good at being an editor? Ask your peers. Write things down. Make lists. All of this effort will pay off when you begin to build an accurate picture of who you are and what you need to be. It all starts with perspective.
“Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”
There’s a moment in the video when Lauren admits she passed up a producing job with Yoko Ono because she knew she had to direct. There’s a hint of regret and sadness in her eyes when she reflects on the decision, which speaks to maybe the most difficult part of the process — commitment.
In the end, choosing your path means not choosing any other path. You’re going to have to make sacrifices because, well, our time is limited and there’s not enough of it to second-guess every decision. But, as Reed Morano A.S.C pointed out in our interview, there’s a lot of power in making your own decisions:
“‘My dad had told me long before, ‘No one is ever going to give you the power. You have to take the power.’ I knew that if you decide you want to do something, or if you decide you want to be something, you have to jump in with both feet.”
Once you commit to a decision, suddenly a path becomes your path. That’s an exciting notion, isn’t it? Sure, you may be giving up on other opportunities — but does it matter if they weren’t your opportunities in the first place?
We know, all of this is easier said than done, but the point isn’t to find a shortcut to the end of your path. It’s not even about telling you what to do. It’s just a simple reminder that we all have our own path to walk and the best thing we can do is take a step in the right direction.
Directed and Produced by Sarah Schutzki (Feral Creative)
Editor: Lucas Harger
DP: Adam Uhl
AC: John Meese
Audio: Ben Nimkin
Gaffer: Rossin Wood
PA: Alex Rapine