When I first moved to Seattle in 1994 a series of very unlikely events landed me in the highrise office towers of 107.7 THE END, the radio station that broke grunge music to the world. At the time it was literally the most influential radio station on the planet. Rolling Stone magazine did a feature on the station, its DJs, and its influence on the current music scene.
I was chatting up the promotions person about being an intern when I mentioned that I was a music journalist. I’d done reviews, interviews and features for a bunch of mags in LA before I headed north to the emerald city. She seemed impressed. Before I left, she wanted me to meet Anna. Sure! I like meeting people.
Anna and I hung around the conference room for the better part of another hour, shooting the shit, looking out over the water. The singer from Alice in Chains walked out of the studio while we were chatting. Wow.
My parking meter had long since expired but I didn’t really care. Especially when Anna asked me if I ever heard of a new tech thing called ‘the internet.’ They had things on this thing called ‘websites.’ I nodded my head. I kinda knew what was up, but not really.
Five minutes later Anna hired me to be the lead writer on what would soon become the biggest music website in the world (there weren’t a whole lot of music websites in the world at that point), at the most high profile station in the known universe. Holy. Shit! Turns out that Anna was the general manager for the station. I was hoping to pass out bumper stickers at local shows and maybe get a free t shirt. I walked out of there with a top notch plum gig.
I soon got my assignments and went home to crank out the words. Things were going well but I had a bunch of questions. This was my first really real job. I wanted to kick ass.
Since email still wasn’t happening, I called up Anna and asked her a bunch of questions. Looking back, some were legit, many probably were not. I remember very clearly what she said to me…
“Jeff, I hired you because you know what you’re doing. Just do what you think is best. I trust you.”
Um, wow. No previous boss had ever said anything like that to me. It was big deal, bigger than I understood at the time.
It was a big deal because Anna gave my power back to me, even when I was trying to give it away. And she made me responsible for my own decisions. This has been a huge lesson in work, life, creativity.
As creatives, half the deal is making choices. Lots and lots of choice. When you write a screenplay there are basically a billion choice to make— What’s the plot? What do the characters do? What do they say? What is their back story? Motivation? The list goes on forever. Same goes for penning a song, painting a painting. Whatever.
That’s why it’s so f*ing critical to understand your power (and your responsibly) as a creative. In a world where we often feel so out of control and powerless, our creations are a place where we make all of the decisions.
Is it wise to get feedback? To take classes? To fail fast and try again? Yes, of course. But at the end of the day, all of these things are just guides on your creative truth. Your unique expression. When all is said and done, everyone on the sidelines disappears and it’s your name on the novel, you on that stage, your heart imprinted onto that sleeve.
Know your power. Make decisions that are true for you— in your creations (and in your life). Then take responsibility and stand behind your choices. Shine your awesome. Know your power.
How do you give your power away? How can you reclaim it?
How do you make creative decisions?