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Episode 34 | BEST LAID PLANS

Updated: Nov 5, 2021

Today’s show is brought to you by the HOW THEY DID IT, FILMMAKING podcast.


So here we are with a THIRD season of the show which will roll out every Sunday at 7pm GMT for the next few months. Occasionally you may find me releasing a couple of episodes per week as this season we have 18 new shows and a few of them are connected. I hope that the topics I will be bringing you will be helpful in your life and work.

English innovation strategy specialist Max McKeown says “Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.”

I’ll be briefly talking you through season 3 today, but the episode is called BEST LAID PLANS for good reason, as often the plans that we make and attempt to put into action start to disintegrate about us and we need to stop, rethink what we are doing and make some changes before we move on again.

This subject has come up a few times on social media, and is something I’ve had to deal with a few times myself this year.

Season Preview.

Baring in mind what I’ve just said, so this is subject to change, Season 3 will bring you more episodes based on the productivity techniques tips and tricks that have been working so well in the business and lifestyle worlds. These will include episodes about the 16 LAWS OF SUCCESS, ELEPHANT HABITS and DEVELOPING A SENSE OF URGENCY. As my TELL IT HOW IT IS episodes always seem to be popular I’ll also be including an episode about DEALING WITH BULLIES which is a particularly prevalent problem here and there in the Film Industry in my own country, and it may have some bearing in what you are dealing with wherever you are too. I’m wanting to do a show about BULLSHITTERS too but I haven’t figured out how to deliver that one yet without swearing. Bear with me.

Elsewhere this season I will be talking about STRESS and ANXIETY, ARROGANCE and PRIDE, IMPOSTER SYNDROME, something known as OUTRAGE PORN, CROWDFUNDING LESSONS, WHY WE SHOULDN’T APPLY FOR FUNDING and another recent discovery of mine called THE LABOR ILLUSION.

Most episodes will be based on the new 10 minute motivation format, which focuses down the show to one major topic without wandering too far, but some episodes such as CROWDFUNDING: LESSONS WERE LEARNED and this one here will run a bit longer as there’s a lot to cover.

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry… wrote a paraphrased Robert Burns and that’s what I want to get into with this episode – you see we need to accept that no matter how carefully a strategy, a project, an – ANYTHING - is planned, SOMETHING may still go wrong.

Mike Tyson says “Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth.”

This year I’ve been figuratively PUNCHED IN THE MONTH a number of times and my plans have tumbled like a house of cards about me. 9 months into my BEST YEAR YET strategy which I introduced to you in the New Year Special I have had to entirely abandon my plans and move my focus on to different things.

There were several specific happenings that contributed to the general fucking up my efforts, but far from having regret over the change I am celebrating in a new found freedom.

I am thankful for all of those who said “no” to me. It’s because of them that I am doing it myself. Albert Einstein UNQUOTE

The BEST YEAR YET system is a good one but I made a MAJOR MISCALCULATION IN MY STRATEGY - I hung several major goals on something which I had absolutely no control over. A funding application.

In hindsight it was completely stupid but at the time I was very certain that I was making the right move. I felt somehow that my time had come and with my best project, which I’d been working on for several years, I was sure that I’d be successful. Oh how wrong I was - Historically I’ve never had any form of tangible support from funding organisation, but this time seemed different - or so I thought.

It was an application not for financial support but for access to a mentoring programme with a residential element. I spent weeks on the application, and had a number of people help me to refine and improve my project so that it was tailor made to fit the application. Even the application form itself was refined and bettered over a series of passes and I got the application in on time… and I thought it was pretty darn good - that’s when things started going VERY wrong.

I had unwitting stepped into a minefield of unpredictability, completely out with my control. After I submitted the application - which incidentally - only had a three week gap for submissions, the organisation running the things suddenly decided to extend the deadline for applications by a further 6 weeks.

To put it simply, this was disastrous for my BEST YEAR YET STRATEGY as it knocked my next two deadlines together and ensured that I could not complete every subsequent goal to the schedule I had laid out.

Had I not only hung my hopes on this application, and structured several of my main goals around it I would have been able to save my scheduled BEST YEAR YET PLAN. When they moved the goalposts, I couldn’t even re-submit an improved application as my next MAJOR Goal was Season 2 of this show, which launched successfully and on time, but only as I had complete control over it. That was the last of my scheduled MAJOR goals to be met this year.

To cut a long story short in regard to my application - I didn’t even get an interview for that mentoring programme - and it was the straw that broke the camel’s already heavily weighted back. If you’ve already heard my WHY IT’S OK TO GIVE UP EPISODE, you’ll know that I threw in the towel on my filmmaking dreams. As one door closes however, another one opens.


Incidentally there’s a whole host of reasons why I might have been rejected but as they didn’t deign to share them with me - I’m going to say that my project just didn’t fit the bill. Whatever the reason though, I had to deal with it – and it took me a few months to recover as it was an incredibly destructive mistake. Things are moving again now with my newly created PLAN B.

Mistakes are a part of life; you can't avoid them. All you can hope is that they won't be too expensive and that you don't make the same mistake twice. Lee Iacocca UNQUOTE

Dealing with change in life is something that we all have to face up to as we just can’t control everything - although I do know a few people who think they can.

When the worst happens though - how do you deal with it? Do you resist change and fight? Or… Do you go with the flow and adapt? Do you spiral into depression or do you handle it with positivity? Me personally, I do a bit of both. I might quietly rage or get down about something but eventually I get back up and try again.

· Like the earlier quote I used by Einstein, we have to face up to the fact that PAIN IS PART OF GROWING. It literally pains me to know this as I learned it the hard way, but if I hadn’t had a breakdown a few years ago, if I hadn’t lost both my parents one after the other, if I hadn’t had terrible times with awful people again and again on terrible creative projects - then I wouldn’t be here now pushing out my positivity and receiving it back via this show. Hard as it may seem to swallow sometimes, EVERY STRUGGLE IS A STEP FORWARD and will make you better.

  • It was through these difficult experiences that I learned to say to myself that THIS TOO SHALL PASS. Remember that everything in life is temporary, and the pain we feel today will fade in time - new doors will open in life and in our work and in our relationships.

  • I often say here, DON’T WORRY, EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK, because as adults we don’t hear it often enough. WE SIMPLY WORRY TOO MUCH and IT CHANGES NOTHING. I’ll be tackling worry and anxiety in a later episode this season.

  • ANOTHER THING THAT CHANGES NOTHING IS COMPLAINING. Everyone likes a good moan so if you have to, go for it, but cut it off sooner rather than later or you’ll never be able to move passed it. Like my application analogy earlier. I thought I at least deserved an interview – but I didn’t even get that. Who am I going to complain to though? And will my moaning about it all, get me anywhere at all? Of course not. I just had to, like I've done so many times before, BITE THE BULLET… AND MOVE ON.

Remember too, THAT OTHER PEOPLE’S NEGATIVITY IS NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Don't let people pull you into their storms. Pull them into your peace. Look back to my episode on TOXIC PEOPLE.

Joel Osteen says You cannot expect to live a positive life if you hang with negative people so when things don’t go as planned, you may want to look at who you are working with, before you start over – without them.
  • Instead of being swept up in the negativity that comes when your plans fall apart, FIND A POSITIVE WAY TO MOVE PAST IT. We are human and we know it’s a total drag when things go wrong as it’s going to be a load of work to get things going again, but stay positive. I won’t use the glass as half full analogy, but Alphonse Karr has a great play on this in reference to negativity from others. He says, Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.

  • WHAT WILL BE, WILL BE is something I find myself repeating to myself when things are playing out. SUCH IS LIFE. Sometimes accepting that a greater universal play is in hand and your plans have failed, is something you eventually must realise if you are to move on. I’m not saying give up too soon, I’m saying when all is lost, recognise your situation and accept that change is going to happen.

  • And with all that said you must find the power to JUST KEEP GOING. Next episode I’m going to be discussing the SENSE OF URGENCY that we must develop in ourselves if we are to achieve our goals and our dreams in a timely manner. Have your moment of failure, and accept it. Then get back on your feet and dust yourself down.

  • I’d like to end by saying that if your strategy has failed, if you’ve miscalculated in some way, made an error or just a catalogue of bad choices - then learn from your mistakes before moving forward again with a NEW STRATEGY. Remember another famous quote from Albert Einstein

Einstein said Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Summing Up

I’ve covered elements of this topic before but with the series of bad decisions and bad collaborations I’ve had recently, and my subsequent abandonment of my filmmaking goals this year - I felt I really had to revisit it.

I hope it’s been useful to you and has opened up your mind a little. I also hope that you continue to learn from my mistakes which I catalogue here - despite my best efforts to avoid making them.

Call To Action

Your call to action today is to think of a time where you have made a bad choice and ask yourself - Have I learned from this? Am I still making the same mistake? If you are, then give yourself a shake, and make a deal to never let it happen again.

We are products of our past, but we don't have to be prisoners of it. Rick Warren UNQUOTE


Remember that YOUR SCARS ARE A SYMBOL OF YOUR STRENGTH so embrace your failures and if you are in a BAD place, remember the words THIS TOO SHALL PASS. Just breath and remind yourself that everything is going to be all right.

I’m looking for your help this season as I have an upcoming MAIL BAG episode. It’s effectively a listeners questions show. Today’s topic came up in discussion with Glasgow Filmmaker Colin Ross Smith so your problems and questions are very useful for me in identifying the problems that you are dealing with – That in turn will lead to better and more on point shows. If you really want to help and need advice on a productivity topic or problem please get in touch via the contact pages on the Film Pro Productivity website. Don’t delay though as that show is coming up in just a few weeks.

Thanks again to Ian O’Neill form the HOW THEY DID IT, FILMMAKING podcast for sponsoring this episode. Ian’s show is one of my favourites so check it out and subscribe on all the good podcasting apps.

Let me end though with the words of Henry Ford: Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.

Now - take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’, and join me next time on Film Pro Productivity.

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