A Story of Humility

HumilityThere once was a humble man. He rightly assessed himself with truth and wisdom. He accepted himself, faults and all, and shared with others freely. His confidence was in his author. He was content in who his maker had made him to be.

When his life excelled, his survival was due to his creator. When his life went belly up in the darkness of despair, his maker held him from demise. He could survive all that he faced. He could do all things through his maker who strengthened him.

There once was a manipulative religious leader. She knew the humble man was set apart for glorious things. She judged him unfit, for his self-awareness suggested a lack of humility. Her network labored to take him down a few notches. They stripped him of money, home and relationships. They blocked him from any and all forms of success. They even found his Achilles heel and dropped him into a repetitive menagerie of daily pain. And finally, they teased him with lovers just out of his reach.

He survived. He cried. He humbly acknowledged his new place in life. He knew that he’d no longer shine as he was made to do, but instead testify to the actions of those that were made to support his creations. He endured for a dozen years, fighting to keep bitterness from tearing up his soul. He finally let go and accepted his new lot in life and waited for judgment day.

The manipulator was proud of her ability to play god in the man’s life. She saw him breaking and would soon announce his new humble status. But something was wrong and she’d have to delay her announcement.

The man stood firm in the face of agony and disgrace. He rightly divided the word of truth and still accepted himself in spite of circumstances. He again acknowledged that his creator made him for a glorious cause, as had been done for the man with a coat of many colors. And, his confidence remained not in himself, but continued to reside within his savior who strengthened him.

The manipulator was angry that the man’s humility did not look like her own. She was convinced it was “fake,” yet it survived the worst of emotional, physical and spiritual attacks. Could she be the barer of fake humility? She trembled at the thought. Her attempt to play god would soon be revealed—her status sinking beneath that of junk bonds.

The humble man simply lived his new life without the glorious gift his savior intended for him to share. No one missed the loving gift, for they never knew it was on its way. The future soon became bleak with no relief in sight because the humble man’s humility didn’t look like hers.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

Controlling Kills Creativity

Control Kills CreativityWhen I was the lead carpenter for the Before Broadway Players, my director asked me to create a special effects box that looked high tech and gave the audience the sense that it was beyond this world. Having been empowered, I quickly put everything I had into the tech and the final stage prop created a great publicity buzz.

I was only able to use my ingenuity because I had a director who understood that controlling his team’s decisions would kill their creativity and force the audience to pretend the box was more than just junk parts glued in place.

There’s a fine balance between setting vision or giving a project direction, and controlling everyone involved. The latter tends to dilute creativity and drives creative types to withdraw their best efforts and replace it with something mundane.

It’s true that at certain key moments control is necessary to get things on track with market needs, but continuous control robs the team of unique successes and slaughters their inspiration for innovation in the arts. Put simply: long-term control kills the art form.

So why is it that new directors tend to control the actors and crew, rather than collaborate with them?

It might be due to insecurity. Or, maybe watching previous works demolished by the wrong choice in team or talent selection. In any case, I believe all directors can find a balance between control and collaboration by practicing three important steps.

EVALUATE YOUR ACTIONS. Most controlling leaders are not aware of their grasp on people. They make decisions based on their goal, not the person they work with. This causes them to stifle innovation from those around them, which is detrimental in all of the arts, but especially motion pictures.

To break free of control issues a director can ask himself several questions:

A. Are my ideas always the best?
B. Have my cast and crew stopped contributing?
C. Do people constantly ask questions for approval, rather than risk their creativity?
D. Have all of my projects gone flat and are no longer interesting?

If any of the answers above are yes, then the director must practice letting go.

PRACTICE LETTING GO. The word practice is critical in revealing the ongoing process for the controller. No one can throw a one time switch and suddenly turn everything into a great collaboration. It takes single daily steps to accomplish the change. There are a handful of questions a director can ask himself to move forward in letting go:

A. What responsibility can I delegate?
B. How can I measure the delegate’s success without taking over?
C. What new responsibility can I use to fill my time?
D. What new behaviors can I develop to keep my hands off the delegate’s details?

By letting go of the minutia and filling time with more important focuses, the director can empower his team to put their soul into the project.

LEARN TO EMPOWER. The best way to empower someone isn’t by understanding their ability to perform a task, but rather understand their behaviors and how they make choices. It’s the choices that determine if the individual will follow the vision or head off in a different direction.

A director, who spends a lot of time understanding people and how characters develop, can plan how behaviors can be triggered. To move in this direction, the director can ask himself the following questions to prepare:

A. What behaviors are needed to accomplish the responsibility?
B. What choices must be present to give comfort when I let go?
C. How can these behaviors be inspired or given to the person?
D. What support is required to empower the person?

Empowered individuals always out perform controlled people. Yet, it takes hard work on the director’s part to empower the people, while maintaining his vision.

Some new directors who get past the control factor shift to the opposite extreme with a mishmash of unclear activities. Empowering people does not stop the director from painting a vision and directing everyone towards it, as there is a great difference between getting buried in the minutia and inspiring everyone’s behaviors to reach the goal.

Whether you’re a film director or a manager, what do you do to empower your people?

Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers