Improving Your Craft with a Mentor

“That stinks! Do it over!”

That’s probably what you heard in your head the last time you submitted your 1st and/or 2nd draft to the ‘Great and Powerful Oz‘. When in fact, what they really said was, “I love where you going with this. Your work is really improving. Here’s what I would consider changing…“.

I literally bite off my nails after submitting my work to an established peer or mentor in my craft who I know produces work on the same level or better than I do. But, just like that verse reads, “Iron sharpens iron.” (I believe there was a famous Samurai who said it too.)

When it comes to filmmaking, photography, or anything creative, this concept makes perfect sense. You, as a creative, want your work to continue improving. Right?

Mentors are role models in your craft who take a vested interest in your success. Often you meet your mentor when you least expect to. Once you make the connection with a mentor who truly cares, he (or she) will help guide your career. This doesn’t necessarily mean your mentor will enter into a business relationship with you; but he or she may offer necessary encouragement, advice and influence that will help you get closer to your goal. Your mentor will be there to answer and ask questions.

For me, having a mentor has helped to shape my technical education in filmmaking and videography. There were (imagine this next word pulsating) BIG gaps in my skill sets around editing, camera operation and directing that caused my videos to look poorly done and unprofessional.

If it wasn’t for the time and investment I received from a mentor, I’d still be pumping out work that was simply “okay.” Maybe even “good.”  But it wouldn’t be great. The new mantra I’ve adopted for the year 2012 is “Don’t let good, get in the way of great.”

You can do great. Find a coach. Find a mentor.

It’s time to stop being just “okay.”

Phil is an aspiring filmmaker who entered Dare Dreamer’s Media’s mentorship program the summer of 2011. He is now director of business development. He continues to work on his craft.

11 thoughts on “Improving Your Craft with a Mentor

  1. I agree with you! Mentorship is very important and it is probably the most natural thing in the world as well….. we have just simply forgotten about it in the last 50 years.

    Here an idea I would love to see on TV:
    Think “Fashion star/top model” but for creative media professionals.

    1. I feel like this article is speaking directly to me, Phil. I always felt like my work is “okay” or “good” so much so that I’ve been on a quest to find out what is it exactly that’s holding me back, what can I change, what can I do better and what do I need to focus on. Blog posts like these keep everything in perspective.

      1. Jude – I can sooooo relate. That realization must also come with a feeling of discouragement or insignificance. I can tell you having a small group of peers in the craft is a good thing too. It’s almost like having a ‘Board of Directors’ for your life. I would suggest meeting with a few smart people that know you very well and simply ask them what your strengths and weakness are that they’ve observed. From their perspective, where can you improve? Tell them about your goal. Make it real that way and ask them to keep you accountable for making those changes from time to time.

        I hope that helps a little.

    2. Robert,
      Thanks for your comment. I think in the days people who wanted to succeed saw this is the next step. It was in those days that apprenticeships were common as well, yet another form of mentorship.

      A friend of mine has 3 mentors. He has one for every aspect of his life he wants to improve in, such as leadership, public speaking, and being a people person. That’s a person who WILL improve.

  2. So what’s the best way to find a mentor?
    Or leave it to luck, like finding the love of your life?
    HEHE, but I guess there are mentorship programs, just need to look around.

    1. Hi Bernard,
      I don’t have a set process for finding one, but I do know what works for me. Often I find someone within my network that I admire and can ultimately trust. The trust comes from watching them for a season. Watch closely how they relate and interact with people. How do they serve others? Treat others? How do they deal with conflict? Choose your mentor as if you would select a close friend, only the mentor has more experience and is further along in the craft you want to learn. I hope that helps.

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