Creative Leadership

Get Your Career Unstuck in the Entertainment Industry

If you’re working on a career in the media or entertainment industry, but feel like you’ve hit a wall, I can relate.  In nearly 3 decades working in Los Angeles, I’ve seen plenty of people zoom to the top, and others crash to the bottom.  I’m not an “expert,” I’m an “observer,” so after all these years watching, here’s 3 things that just might help you make the leap:

1. Focus more on your skills, and less on the industry you’re involved in.  I recently met a screenwriter here in Hollywood. She’s quite good and has been writing screenplays for ten years. She’s a very skilled writer, but up to this point hasn’t sold anything. For the last ten years she’s worked at Starbucks to support her writing, and continues, determined to eventually build a career. The issue is, she’s a really good writer, and I believe would do well writing books, working as a journalist, writing a blog, or working on staff somewhere as a professional writer. But she’s not interested. Because she’s so focused on a single industry (movies), she refuses to use her remarkable skills anywhere else. The lesson?  Don’t wear blinders. Sure, keep working toward your dream, but focus less on a single industry, and explore how you could use your gifts and talents in other areas as well.

2. Make sure your passion intersects with your actual skills.  I’ll get some push-back about this because everybody believes in following your passion. But the truth is, for many people (including me for a very long time) their passion isn’t really where they’re the most skilled or gifted. I spent years (actually decades) pursuing a career as a feature film director. But as I rose in the industry, I began to see that my real skill was writing and producing. It took me a long time to realize that I was pursuing a passion that I wasn’t really prepared or skilled to accomplish – particularly at the level I wanted. But had I started my career as a writer-producer in the industry, who knows where I might be today? The lesson?  Be ruthless about finding out your real skill set. If your passion ultimately intersects with that – wonderful. But if it doesn’t, have the courage to change course. Don’t waste time pursuing a soul crushing mirage.

3. It’s not about finding the perfect job, it’s about finding your purpose.  We all want, need, and dream of the perfect job. But the truth is, if that job isn’t an expression of your purpose, then you’ll ultimately be frustrated and unfulfilled. As I say in my book, “One Big Thing” – your purpose is bigger than a job.  The Lesson?  Discover how you’re wired and what you were born to do, and then start looking for the right job.  Anything else will be backward and frustrating.

How about you? Anything on this list resonate with your career?

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3 Comments

  1. Phil Cooke;
    I just watched ” Son of God ” and though it had the interpretations and views of Ms Downey & Mr Burnett their views don’t line up with mine, yours or the person across the aisle from us on sunday mornings. That in itself does not make a difference as to what the film, the story or the producers/directors were trying to tell us. Jesus is the Son of God, period. We don’t have the complete story that the gospels were saying, they are open for interpretation given to us through the Holy Spirit of the written word inspired by God. I’m seeing negative posts on social networks for both Noah and The Son of God. I am happy to see these posts as it opens a dialogue that these films can open up to the believers and non-belivers alike. I am looking forward to having a movie night to see Noah with the college age group at our church, they have questions and I hope and pray God gives me the answers.
    Mark 9:38-39 (NIV) is a great passage on this difference of views, interpretations and ideas of Hollywood and the Christ Followers community
    38 – Teacher, said John, we saw someone driving out demons in Your Name and we told him to stop because he was not one of us
    39 – Do not stop him, Jesus said, for no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me

  2. As is frequently debated in the media, college degrees are often sought out to define a career. Hi, I’m a college student currently seeking a major (which, now a days, means looking for my purpose.) I love my school, I’ve made great friends, and I’ve grown closer to God, but things haven’t necessarily been easy. I’m applying to my fourth program at my school after not being accepted into three previous ones, all relating to the arts. I’m not trying to tell my sob story. In a week, I’ll know if I make it into the major I want or not. Knowing the stress of my situation, my dad sent me this article and I agree wholeheartedly. It took a long, humbling process to realize that my passion is not necessarily where my talent lies. I had to sit down with my dad and re-organize everything before deciding to apply for my current program. One of the biggest things we talked about was skill set and I appreciated the point in this article regarding that exact idea. Whether I am accepted into my major or not (which, admittedly, would be pretty upsetting) I am happy to have learned so much from my experiences. Thank you for the article!

    1. The great thing is that you’ve discovered this now – before you waste years in a career you we’re meant to do. My greatest recommendation is to continue having these serious, hardcore conversations with yourself about the gifts, skills, and goals. Thanks for posting Mikeala, and best wishes!

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