Ten Tips To Put The Edge On Your Screenwriting Career


More words of wisdom from Entertainment Career Coach, Suzanne Lyons:

1) RESPONSIBILITY/ACCOUNTABILITY: I admit, this one is painful.  It is so much easier to think that someone else is partly responsible.  Much easier to blame and pass the buck. Think again. YOU are 100% responsible for every and all aspects of your life.  Not 90%, not even 99%. But 100% responsible!  Listen to your conversations with yourself and others, take a look at your actions on a daily bases.  Are you really taking 100% responsibility?  Are you really being 100% accountable? Anything less renders you powerless.

2) SEE AND BE THE BIG PICTURE: I was reading the February issue of Oprah’s magazine and loved what she said, “The thrill is to keep envisioning what can be and then have the guts to go for it and make it real. Imagine that!”  If your focus is on the way it is and not on the way you say it’s going to be then there’s a good chance you’ll stay where you are. That is not leadership.  Look 25 (or more) years into the future and write down your accomplishments, vision, dreams, goals, desires.   This exercise will take you out of the daily content of your life and will put everything in a context (a bigger picture).  As you make the commitment to who you’re going to “be” and what you’re going to “do” in the future, it actually alters who you are in the present… today… right now.

3) PLAY THE GAME: There is a quote in the lyrics of a song by the pop band ‘Reverend & the Makers’ that really says it all, “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.”  Isn’t that the best?  It’s all about getting up to bat… to risk… to create the next gap for yourself and be willing to stand on the abyss… on nothing.  As a leader you no longer get to sit on the sidelines and have an opinion about the way it should be.  Get on the field, play the game, live on the edge, risk!

4) BE WILLING TO TAKE A STAND: Okay, this is a hard one for most of us.  We are so trained, so brainwashed to conform.  Taking a stand seems impossible.  But look for a minute at the alternative… losing your self expression, your aliveness, your passion.  I did a workshop years ago where I was repelling off mountains and doing zip lines hundreds of feet in the air.  The t-shirts we wore said, “May you live every day of your life.”  How can we do that if we are following someone else’s rules, someone else’s agenda, someone else’s dream?   Take a stand… in the face of little or no agreement.  It’s okay.  You have your own guidance system… use it… trust it.  It’s what leaders do.

5) GOING THE EXTRA MILE: In Jack Canfield’s book, “The Success Principles” he says, “Exceeding expectations helps you stand above the crowd.”  A concept that I fear is really missing in our culture these days.  I had lunch with an executive at a big production company recently and she told me she’d been interviewing interns and how disheartening it was for her.  Almost without fail she said, their question was “What’s in it for me?” and “What will I get out of it?”  No one was saying, “What can I do for you?”

6) STAYING PRESENT: I realize I’m asking a lot here.  You’re busy, really busy, juggling multiple balls in the air.  I get it.  However, practicing this one skill can do more than just put you on the leading edge.  It will improve your health, your energy level and your state of mind.  In addition, being present impacts those around you.  When you’re truly present, you’re centered and you’re being your authentic self.  That allows others the opportunity to be authentic as well.  It’s a gift you give to people.  Try a few minutes of meditation each day and stop periodically and do some deep breathing.  See what works for you and trust that the process will be well worth it.

7) LISTEN: If you want to be on the leading edge and you’re truly committed to exploring the characteristics that define leadership, then take a serious look at this one.  There are a few things I want to point out here.  Number one is the skill itself.  Practice listening… really listening.  Usually we’re so busy thinking of what we’re going to say, we barely hear the other person.  Try repeating back what you think you’ve heard.  Number two is about listening for their greatness.   Listen to people as if gold and diamonds are coming out of their mouths. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll hear.  Thirdly, stop listening to people’s negative stories and complaints.  You’re only indulging them into perpetuating more of the same.  It serves no one.  Stop them and ask if their story is empowering them… when they say no, then change the conversation.

8) CAUSE vs. EFFECT: YOU are in charge, what you think about you bring about.  You get to decide the way it goes. You are the one causing your life to unfold.  How great is that?  In Fred Mandell & Kathleen Jordan’s new book, “Becoming a Life Change Artist” they talk about leaders as “enthusiastic explorers.”  I just had to share that with you.  Wouldn’t that be a fun and empowering way to describe yourself as a leader, an enthusiastic explorer!  To be ongoingly, moment by moment, committed to being the one causing your life to happen and never being a victim of the circumstances that surround you.  Since what ‘has been’ has nothing to do with what ‘will be’ why not be a deliberate creator of your own reality.

9) A SENSE OF HUMOR: In an article on the characteristics of a leader in HR World they say that a sense of humor is vital and that it fosters good camaraderie.  To me it’s as simple as this… if you’re having fun and loving what you do, people will want to play with you.  The minute I catch myself taking life too seriously I immediately make a point of turning it around and looking for the humor.

10) ACKNOWLEDGMENT: Real authentic acknowledgment is something everyone loves to hear.  Leaders are present enough and conscious enough to know that.  If you want to be on the leading edge and stand in leadership then you’ll want to get in the habit of acknowledging people.  In fact, start now.  Acknowledge at least one person today.

BONUS: A word of caution.  Be careful how you perceive leaders and heroes.  Often we see them as someone greater than ourselves, bigger than who we think we are.  That was never their intent.  That belief only takes you off the hook.  Yes, they should inspire you, but they are no different from you.  Even Gandhi, Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa… YOU have everything they have… you’ve just forgotten.  Now it’s time to remember.

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