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THIS EPISODE IS SPONSORED BY: the EverydayAthlete Gym in Glasgow

Every failure is a lesson learned about your strategy. Thomas A. Edison

Here we are again then folks with a brand-new season of the show, a half season at this stage of 6 episodes as I wasn’t very well for about 5 weeks in November, the start of December, and I simply had to cut my cloth according to my need to get anything done at all. That’s what I’ll make today's 1st lesson learned in fact, or lesson re-learned if you prefer. You must CUT YOUR CLOTH ACCORDING TO YOUR NEED.


Sometimes you just have to adapt, to simplify, work on the basics, and focus on what is achievable. That means too that you must let go of some things in order to achieve others.


Cutting your cloth according to your need, sometimes spokenn as cutting your coat according to your cloth, means adjusting your actions based on the resources available. The resources that I had trouble allocating in this scenario were time, energy, and money. As it approached the point for me to start recording new podcast episodes I was hit firstly by the loss of my dear friend and fellow fight director David Goodall and secondly by a terrible cold that hung on and on with a heavy cough that more or less stopped me from planning anything, let alone researching and recording complex lessons for this show.


I found myself overwhelmed with the amount of work that I had to do just to keep my things going. Work that I had planned with David and which would have been shared had he still been with us. I also found myself with a great responsibility for doing it well as I felt his loss quite significantly and still do.


I’ve talked here often about brain dumps, that is getting what’s in my head out and onto paper or a whiteboard – a task I had to do to start making sense of the overwhelming amount of tasks and goals I had in my head. I did this and the amount of stuff I had to do took up ¾ of a 8-foot by 4-foot whiteboard on my office wall. These weren’t detailed notes but were just the basics of what had to be done.


To sort through these and prioritize I ran it all through another productivity exercise. The Eisenhower Matrix, where tasks are split into urgent and important, urgent and not important, not urgent but important, and not urgent and not important. That system helped but most of the tasks I had ahead of me still sat in the important sections – both urgent and not urgent - so the exercise left me not that much further forward.

If you're overwhelmed by the size of a problem, break it down into smaller pieces. Chuck Close

Eventually, I came to terms with the fact that I was unable to get what I had planned done. Not in a tight time frame at least. So, I simply had to cut back on my plans. I took the most important and urgent stuff and scheduled it all out to complete before the end of 2023, and decided to take 3 of the important but not urgent tasks and plan a 12-week year to complete them by the end of March. I haven't at the time of recording made up that 12-week year as I also had to put aside its planning till I had time to take care of it. Finally, I halved the length of this season of the show and even reduced the number of “LESSONS”, included in this episode.


If I hadn’t done all this I would have continued to stand like a rabbit in the headlights and never get anything done.


Do you find yourself in this situation yourself? Perhaps you too can adapt, simplify and focus on what is achievable in the short term yourself.


In the words of Confucius Keep it simple and focus on what matters

The second big lesson learned is something I mentioned earlier in the year and it is simply to HAVE A PLAN B. 

The most successful people are those who are good at plan B. James A. Yorke

There’s a whole productivity line of thought that says you should never have a backup plan. Author and marketing strategist Seth Godin says in fact that A well-defined backup plan is sabotage waiting to happen. Why push through the dip, why take the risk, why blow it all when there's the comfortable alternative instead? The people who break through usually have nothing to lose, and they almost never have a backup plan. Henry Cavill says I like to go full bore into something. If you have a backup plan, then you've already admitted defeat.


I like Seth Godin and Henry Cavil, but they haven’t been about to shoot a film on a low budget when two of the locations they had locked down turned around and said no at the last minute.

I’m not talking about having a plan B for your dreams here, I’m talking about having backups to the small but important details that could make or break a project. To help you get around the potential obstacles that may stop you from achieving your dreams.

Having an environment that is supportive is really important for success. Tory Burch

Luckily, I surrounded myself with good people on the shoot of The Traveller and it was Paddy O’Brien our leading man, who sponsored this episode too as it happens, that helped me find the solution to the first lost location. The second location I was able to recover by personally visiting the guy who was in charge of it and circumventing the council film officer who genuinely appeared to be trying to disrupt the filming. Had I been better prepared, however, or better anticipated the potential loss of these locations I would have, and now feel I should have had at least a few ideas on where else we could have shot.

Plan B. You've always got to have a Plan B. Sylvester Stallone

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The final lesson learned, and I had a lot more I could have included, but the final lesson learned that I think will make an impact concerns Doubt. The lesson is that DOUBT IS WHAT DOES THE MOST DAMAGE

If you must doubt something, doubt your limits. Price Pritchett

When I was developing my short film The Traveller, which incidentally has done quite well in the film festival circuit – I could do a whole show about that circuit and probably will, but most notably so far it won BEST PICTURE at the WHAT WILL THEY THINK OF NEXT FILM FESTIVAL IN TEXAS – but let me stay on track… When I was developing The Traveller I had this idea of having all the ghosts of the dead that the creature in the film has killed over the years hanging in the air and looking down upon the leading man as he stares back up at them. Here’s the thing though. I never wrote it in the script. I had mentioned it to a few people and one or two really didn’t think much of it. Some did but others just didn’t “get it”. So, I left it out of the script. Along the way however I decided I would shoot it, and we did include that scene. It’s kinda shoved in there really, but of all the scenes in the film, THAT IS THE ONE THAT PEOPLE TALK MOST ABOUT.


Had I not cared so much for what others thought I would have embraced the idea more fully and I think overall it would have made for a better film. Doubt stopped that from happening, and I regret not embracing it sooner.

Act as if success is certain. Price Pritchett

Price Pritchett, author of You2 talks about how doubt can stop us from growing if we don't handle it right. He says doubt often comes from being scared of what we don't know or of failing, and this can make us hesitate. I certainly hesitated with The Traveller, and by the time I decided to include it, it was almost too late to make it work.

I don't want to be influenced as to what I write in the next book, to hear those voices in my head when I'm writing. The idea of second-guessing your reader is dangerous, trying to please some notional reader looking over your shoulder, instead of just yourself. Maggie O'Farrell

As a creative professional, I think it's important to face our doubts if we are going to be successful. In my particular situation outlined here, I allowed myself to be influenced by others to limit my vision. Fear of ridicule, or of doing the wrong thing stopped me. Doubt was the thing that caused the most damage.


The only thing that can stop you is the doubt that you carry in your mind. And as Price Pritchett says If you must doubt something, doubt your limits.


So to recap on my hard-earned lessons of 2023, they are:


1.      Keep it simple and focus on what matters.

2.      Have a plan B.

3.      Doubt is what does the most damage.


I do hope you’ve found this episode helpful in some way. Many thanks again for jumping on board to listen to the show! I am very grateful to you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to check in with me. I know how valuable time is, and I am eternally grateful to you for spending it here with me.


Next week, I’ll be talking about having a positive outlook, even in dark times, and about moving forward into the new year with aggression. One other thing I’d add is that you must go back and listen to episodes 81 & 82 entitled PLANNING YOUR BEST YEAR yet as the exercise will make all the difference to your chances of success in the year ahead. Best to start that exercise now!


I’ll end today with a relevant quote from Bertrand Russell, who said this – The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.


Now take control of your destiny, keep on shootin’, and join me next time on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY AND SUCCESS!

3 Tough Lessons In Productivity 2023
Three Tough Productivity Lessons

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Kris Sommerville of Frontline Kit UK. Uniform hire for TV and film.

Frontline Kit UK Premier police kit and uniform clothing provider.


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