Posted by Kelli Joan Bennett
Day 6. I never ask for directions. I’ll drive from Van Nuys to Watts and back again before asking how to get to the beach. I’m not sure who I got my, “I can figure this out, I don’t need help, I know what I’m doing,” hard headedness from but let’s just say, it takes me longer to get where I want to go and I make everything more difficult for myself because of it. Reluctantly, I give over to the charms of Google maps on my iPhone and it turns my world around. I no longer get lost! I no longer waste valuable time trying to find my way. With this new tool so easily accessibly, I refuse to pull my usual self-ego stroking, I know what I’m doing, aren’t I awesome? crap as I attempt to do something I’ve never done before this year. I decide I need a Google maps for my career. And since I’ve never produced a narrative feature film before, I’m going to apply for a mentor in that field. It gives me heart palpitations. I’m not sure why. I guess I’m afraid you’ll discover I don’t know everything…well, I don’t. There, what a relief. The jig is officially up.
As part of the application process, I need two letters of recommendation. A hugely successful and super talented producer friend who I respect and admire has graciously agreed to write one for me. She asked me to get her started with bullet point facts I want to include. I’ve never had to have a letter of recommendation before so I’m not going to lie—I have no clue what in the hell goes in one. I sent her a long, blathering email of unfocused tidbits about the program I’m applying to, my goals, my most relevant work history and the link to my Day 1 report on this experiment earlier this morning. She writes back a few hours later with the brevity of a seasoned pro, “great resume, nice statement of purpose, but WHAT DO YOU NEED TO LEARN from the mentor? If they take you on it won’t be because of aspirations, it will be because you’ve made a clear statement about what you NEED from your mentor.” Wow. Her clarity and specificity instantly rock my mushy, meandering maybes and I thinks. I realize if the mentor is to truly be my Goggle map in this next career move, “I need to ask it for directions.”
I write back an even longer email! But this time, I write with clarity and purpose about my experiment and projects and what, exactly, I need to learn from a mentor. By the time I reach the sign off of the email, it dawns on me that my friend is already giving me directions. She is already mentoring me! And it registers that she’s not the first nor will she be the last. This entire experiment in thinking outside the box inside the box and creating from what I have is all about asking for directions and listening to and receiving directions. Everything and everyone I encounter on this journey will be some form of mentor, teacher, guide, or advisor; they all make up my Google maps.
Until tomorrow, create from what you have…and ask for directions.