A Coaching Power Tool By Kait Gallagher, Creativity Coach, UNITES STATES
We live in a world that constantly demands more of us – do more, be more, make more. Examples of unrealistic expectations abound. What this model of modern life leaves us with is a perpetual sense of not-enoughness, comparison, and fear. The energy of such an existence is draining and leaves the beautiful souls on this planet burnt out, exhausted, depressed, resentful, jealous, envious, and so much more.
I am a filmmaker and writer who works in TV and Film in Los Angeles and I am studying with ICA because I want to bring coaching techniques and the coaching mindset to the TV and film industry so we can have hope for a creative future that nurtures our artists, crews and staff vs. overworking, underpaying and undervaluing; thus, my power tool exploration in this paper will focus on how scarcity vs. abundance applies within the TV/Film industry but the ideas and topics relate to so much more.
Explanation Scarcity vs. Abundance: The Pressure to Create (And Create With Perfection)
The pressure on TV and Film creatives these days is unacceptable and unsustainable. Networks and production companies expect more and pay less; offer minimal time off and often shame you for having needs;10-12 hour workdays leave minimal time to live a balanced life; and with the advent of digital cameras, iPhones, and social media, the pressure to constantly create – and create material of excellent quality – is at an all-time high. Not only that, but you have trolls, critics, commentators all waiting to tell you why your work is lacking in some way versus celebrating what was achieved. All of these factors – and more – have created a culture of fear, isolation, competition, and scarcity.
The concept of scarcity can be applied at the industry level as well as the individual level, with both levels impacting one another daily and creating an unsustainable loop.
I’ve spent 10 years working in this industry, watching the toll that the systems have on the creatives and artists I love so much. The pressure to create often, and perfectly, is ridding us of what art and entertainment are for – the nourishing beauty of connection. Work hours that leave us exhausted, schedules that demand more and more, non-artists commenting on art without appreciation for how vulnerable work is – all of these factors lead us to believe we are not enough and are not doing enough; a constant state of scarcity and it is a broken model.
Scarcity – What Is It and How Does It Show Up in Our Lives?
SCARCITY is defined by Merriam Webster as ‘the quality or state of being scarce. Scarce is defined as a deficiency in quantity or number compared with the demand: not plentiful or abundant.
How does this show up in TV and Film? A few examples include:
- A freelance lifestyle with a competitive job market
- Declining rates across all positions with increasing expectations
- 12+ hour workdays, ridding of work-life balance
- Social media and comparison culture
- Self-pressure to do more, be more as a creator
- The belief that there isn’t enough time
The list goes on. These are just a few examples of how scarcity shows up for those working in this business and it’s created a toxic emotional existence that I see all the time – people sacrifice their sanity and health to keep a job and managers often demand it. I’ve seen people nearly die…and keep working. I watch writers always feel like they’re not writing enough to succeed. And we can not be our best selves or create our best work, from this scarcity mindset. But how can it change?
Abundance – What Is It and How Can We Shift?
ABUNDANCE is defined by Merriam Webster as“an ample quantity; an abundant amount.” Abundant is defined as existing or occurring in large amounts, marked by great plenty (as of resources). Even writing this out, I am struck by how we, as humans, are abundantly creative and filled with great plenty to give. But we are not supported as such; this is where things need to change. So how can we shift?
- A freelance lifestyle with competitive job market à A freelance lifestyle where we nurture talent intending to promote within, foster a space for conversation on how to create more jobs by re-distributing money that is often top-heavy downwards to allow for more employees at the lower levels so there I less burnout and more opportunity, create environments that feel less competitive and more supportive.
- Declining rates across all positions with increasing expectations àre-distribute budgets to create fair pay
- 12+ hour workdays, ridding of work-life balance à cap at 10-hour workdays for set and 6-8 hours for office. We are not more productive with more hours and trust employees to do their work. This mentality is already starting on a global level – companies in Sweden are moving to 6 hour work days (Kate Northrop, Do Less)
- Social media and comparison culture à social media free days (or weeks!), more conversation that social media isn’t a realistic reflection of life, tools to focus on self not the comparison to others.
- Self-pressure to do more, be more as a writer, creatoràself-trust and self-timing
- The belief that there isn’t enough time à time is relative. If we create structures to foster balance, mindfulness, and joy, time feels ever-evolving and beautiful
I am aware we can’t fully change an industry as an individual, but I do believe we can start to show up differently as an individual, which can change a whole lot. This shift starts with individuals learning to accept and honor their needs, vocalize them more, leave work that does not honor us as individuals, etc. We often stay at jobs that harm us because we fear not finding more work. And that is valid and real – I’ve been there. But we can begin to imagine these shifts.
- Saying no more often
- Asking for what we are worth
- Having patience
- Pausing before acting or doing
- Setting boundaries and honoring them
- Acknowledging what is working and what is not working
- Asking for help
- Talking with colleagues about burnout and resolutions
All of these small steps shift our energy from a scarcity, isolated sense of self to a more abundant, expansive, communal experience. As of now, I do not plan to work with clients 1:1 but I will embolden those I work with and lead by asking powerful questions such as:
- What structures suit you best for success?
- How can we respect your best working hours? Your adult working techniques?
- How many hours feel productive each day for you?
- What work lights you up and what work drains you? A Wheel of Life or similar tool could be used in this instance.
- What are you curious about trying next?
It’s about honoring the unique individual in us all and allowing our abundance to flow more freely. As Kate Northrup says in her book, Do Less, “We need to revolutionize the way we work. It’s no longer acceptable to work as though we don’t have bodies, as though we are not of nature….It’s about sustainability, which to me means living and working in was that will allow us, the beings around us, and the planet to thrive indefinitely.”
We are inherently enough and I will use this power tool on my journey to re-frame how we look at the creative lives we lead and how to more fully support them in all of their glory.
I began ICA out of my interest to help artists create a more sustainable energetic experience when it comes to creating, and as I’ve continued with ICA over the past year and a half, I have become ever more aware of the pervasive scarcity mindset in myself and those around me. This power tool, and the shift we can create using it, will be incredible.
I’ve begun by applying this tool to myself and helping my 1:1 clients shift their energetic focuses as well; I know it works. I can’t wait to see where we go from here.
Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Ambitious Women (Kate Northrup, pages xxviii and page 6)