Very valuable lesson Lottie, I learnt this one a couple of years ago and it changed my life.
I have a habit, and I anticipate that many people may have the same habit, which is that I rarely give myself or my work the correct amount of credit it deserves. I always think I’m not quite as good as I actually am.
So when it used to come to finding people or companies I wanted to work or collaborate with, I used to aim fairly low, and then work backwards from there. For instance I’d look at job ads and think ‘I’m not good enough for them, there’s no way they’ll want to work with me.’ Or I’d be looking for a musician to play with my theatre company, and would see incredibly talented artists that I REALLY wanted to work with, but would always be too scared to ask because I expected them to say ‘no’ to little old me.
Then I learnt this really valuable lesson about working my way up my list. Not in an audacious or big-headed way, but because I realised that you never know when the other person may say yes. You may be precisely what they’ve looking for, for ages.
It may be that you’re offering them something they don’t get elsewhere, or that your ideas are unique and excite them. There could be a million reasons they’d say yes to you. By working up your list, it also means that you get the chance to grow and stretch yourself. If you’re working alongside people you consider to be more advanced than you, you may pick up useful, new ways of working as well as any advice they may have to offer.
It’s scary and takes bravery, but I guarantee that frequently, by working up your list, you’ll find yourself surprised. The worst that can happen is that people will ignore you, or say ‘no’. That’s it. That’s all that can happen. And in three weeks’ time the likelyhood is, you’ll have both forgotten about it. Often, I’ve found, that people may not be able to offer exactly what you’d hoped for, but will step forward with some other support instead.
I’m a real believer that the right person will say ‘yes’. Over the last couple of years I’ve worked with some brilliant musicians, writers, directors and actors, all because I bravely worked my way up my list, rather than down. It still scares me sometimes, but I’ve got better at it. It applies to all areas of life, I believe, not just work (and not just to those of us working in the arts.) You’ll hopefully recognise the situations as they arise. Just remember, you ask, you get. And when you get, it’s because you deserve it, and it’s the right thing to happen.
Making theatre with a whole bunch of people who will always be at the top of my list. A hugely talented, wonderful, dedicated bunch of people. The 10-33 Project 2012