Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.
The resource curse, also known as ‘paradox of plenty’, refers to a peculiar phenomenon whereby nations with an abundance of wealth in the form of natural resources find themselves crippled by major economic issues – from sub-par economic growth to poverty to human rights catastrophes. On the African continent, countries such as Angola, Nigeria and Sudan experience low average incomes and poor health indicators, despite an abundance of oil, diamonds and other precious minerals. We see the same pattern repeating itself in other territories from Middle East to Latin America. A key reason for the occurrence of the resource curse is the mismanagement of assets. Distracted by the sheer volume of resources that can be turned into profit, leaders don’t pay enough attention to managing the use of these resources properly to benefit the country and its people in the long run.
Last week, I experienced my own iteration of the resource curse on a much, much smaller scale. I was recently handed the responsibility to kickstart and lead the formation of a creative studio subsidiary. Excited at the prospect of building something from the ground up in our own image, my team and I spent a whirlwind day running around purchasing the equipment necessary for the film production requirements of the studio. High on adrenaline, we’d also put on ourselves the intense pressure of shooting a short documentary the very next day after our equipment purchase! Things started to go wrong from the moment we pressed the record button on the camera for the first time on set, because despite having all the resources we needed on hand, I had failed at the following three things:
I Failed to Plan
A note to all creatives – all the equipment you have at your disposal is devoid of meaning when you haven’t taken the time to sit down with your teammates and carefully go through everything you’re planning to execute. My failure to plan was magnified by the unpredictable nature of a documentary shoot. We found ourselves desperately trying to capture all the shots we could while still adapting to our technical set-up. Instead of running headlong into production the day after the madness of gear-hunting, I should have given the team and myself a week or two to acclimatize to the fundamental functions and operations of the equipment we purchased, which led inevitably to my next failure…
I Failed to Manage
NEVER assume – especially when it comes to the welfare of your team. I neglected to take into account the psychological pressure of a production when I assumed that my teammates would be able to learn on the job how to use the equipment at our disposal. More importantly, I’d neglected to take into account the physical toll that had been accrued from two 16-hour days prepping for the studio’s operations. Simply put, crew members need to be well-rested to be able to safely cope with the physical and mental intensity of a shoot! Perhaps my most critical error was my failure to take into account that the only technically-versed people on the team were Pivoter Y and myself – that should have entailed us spending even more time planning and preparing! This lack of oversight on my part resulted in multiple small mistakes that could have led to disastrous consequences for the wellbeing of my teammates.
I Failed to Complete
In motorsport, the acronym DNF (Did Not Finish) denotes that a participant did not complete a given race due to mechanical failure, injury, or involvement in an accident. My personal DNF could primarily be attributed to the former. Post-shoot, we discovered the extent to which our processors slowed down when ingesting huge amounts of footage we shot – something that Pivoter Y had warned me about before the shoot! The amount of time taken to render all our data meant that we had no time to complete the editing of our project by the deadline we’d given ourselves. I’m immensely grateful that we discovered the limitations of our computers on a self-initiated project – it would be remiss of me to expect clients to be forgiving while we’re servicing their creative needs.
Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations.
Now that I’ve had a week to reflect on everything that happened on our first shoot, I’m incredibly thankful to have the level of support that I received from my teammates. Despite the fact that I was responsible for a number of shortcomings, at no point did any member of the team cast doubt on my creative and directing abilities. Pivoter Y and Intern X have both rallied around me to support me in coming up with a viable timescale and approach to future productions, that will take into account the fact that we’re still learning how to run our own creative studio. Our management team has been great pillars of support, providing us with constant encouragement to continue chasing our ideas and vision in the face of daunting adversity. And continue we will – much like riding a bicycle, we’ll deal with the pain of falling early on and keep cycling towards a beautiful sunrise on the far horizon.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
– Winston Churchill