If a project is important to you, don’t walk away until you’re finished
Completing and delivering a project, on time, will set you apart.
This observation tends to surprise me, although it really shouldn’t. There are so many people who fail to meet this standard test. Scoping goes awry, they don’t communicate enough (out of a lack of skill, fear, or understanding), and projects fall apart.
Think about why people with average skill sets or talents keep getting opportunities. It’s not just because of nepotism; it’s because they deliver. Even if they don’t always deliver perfect work, or even good work, they never fail to actually get the job done. 50 Cent writes about this in Hustle harder, Hustle Smarter:
All sorts of people have ideas. Some people even have scripts. But very few people have proved that they actually know how to make something. To build it from scratch. That’s actually the most important thing to a studio. They want to know that if they sign you to a deal, you’re not going to waste their money and never deliver anything. Sure, they’d prefer it not suck, but the most important thing to them is that it actually gets made. Do you ever wonder why in Hollywood some directors keep getting rehired even though they haven’t had a hit in years? Because at least the studio knows they’re going to deliver.
By creating your movie on your own, you’ve already passed that test. You’ve shown that you can make something, that if a studio gives you a check, you’re actually going to give them something back in return. Combine that with a built-in audience and bam! Now you’ve got leverage! You’re not a dreamer with an idea hoping that someone takes a chance on you. You’re a proven asset who can sit back and wait for the best deal.
I’m using film as an example, but adopting a “just do shit” mentality will help you in every field. Don’t sit around hoping someone will invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in your restaurant idea. Start a food truck for a lot less and make sure what you’re serving is so delicious that the lines are around the block. If you do that, it’s only a matter of time before an investor shows up with a check.
Choose a project, keep it small and simple enough for you to get it done, and show it to people when you’re done. Promote it. Or, forget the P word — just talk about it. Join a daily challenge, or a monthly sprint like NaNoWriMo, and get it done.
If you’re ever feeling like it’s too much, practice completion discipline. Try using Jason Fried’s method:
- Stop everything.
- Take status of everything. Where does each project broadly stand in terms of size, scope, completion, and unknowns.
- Pick a smaller project that’s almost done, and redirect all resources to finishing that one up before working on anything else. Get something finished. Establish “completion discipline”.
- Only move on to the next project once the current project is 100% done.
- Do not add to the pile. No more new projects.
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