Imagine having an app that could tell you what decision to make about anything. You could use it to submit for the right roles, decide which headshots are right for you, and even choose the right mixers to go to. It would save you a lot of time and frustration, I imagine. Clearly that kind of technology is not yet available and many of us will find it difficult to avoid trusting the wrong person at least once this week.
When I look back over my career, I can identify dozens of times when I trusted someone who didn’t deliver on a promise of some kind. One person in the early 90’s had an idea for a TV show and wanted me to host it. I was young and naive and put my faith in someone who wasn’t able to turn that idea into a reality. But was that a mistake? No.
It’s important to recognize the difference between unfortunate circumstances and misplaced trust. Not every pilot that gets shot ends up on TV. Not movie that gets made ends up finding an audience. During your career, you could end up working on dozens of sets where you shoot something that doesn’t ever get seen.
So how do you distinguish the right people from the wrong ones? Here’s what I figured out during my recent career review. Every situation where I trusted the wrong person was driven by my own ego. It was an overwhelming desire to be wanted, loved, needed, recognized, or valued. It wasn’t about the work itself. Now I can clearly see the pattern.
Just because someone is wooing you to work on a project doesn’t always mean you’re the right person for it. It’s helpful to step back and assess if it’s a good fit for your skills and your goals. If it doesn’t line up with those two things, politely walk away.
You may end up walking away from some winning projects. That’s okay. You can’t predict the future but you can do your best to protect yourself. The more carefully you assess a project’s value, the more questions you will ask yourself and the person you should or should not trust.
Here are a few topics to keep in mind when this situation arises next. Ask the questions in person, by phone or by email, and see what kind of responses you get.
1. Purpose of the project: what does this person envision accomplishing?
2. Time: how much time will you need to devote to it?
3. Compensation: what will you get and when will you get it?
4. Track record: what’s this person’s history on completing projects he or she starts?
5. Testimonials: who openly endorses this person and this person’s work?
Remember, the more carefully you qualify an acting “lead” right now, the more likely you are to avoid a date with disaster. You will still end up working with challenging or difficult people, but hopefully they will not lead you off your path to success or take advantage of your eagerness to learn, grow and prove yourself.
Let me know how that all works out for you.