What Are You Willing to Gamble?

I was in Las Vegas this week shooting for my next doc, so this title seemed apropos, particularly since I was there on my own dime and it was only a week prior that the subject of my film and I decided to go.  Part of me was in disbelief - what was I doing?  Logically this move made no sense and yet another part of me was deeply thrilled, because isn't this what life is about, taking chances on ourselves as creatives and on unknown circumstances?

I seem to live my life straddled between these two worlds, risk aversion and throwing everything to the wind for the sake of feeling more creatively fulfilled.  I wouldn't ever want to risk anything to the point where it put my family in dire straits, and I am also aware that the choices I have made in recent years are all the more easy because we are child-free and because my husband has a stable job.

It's always been the same pattern with the risks too: in the short-term I keep telling myself, this is crazy, it makes no sense what I am doing.  In the long-term, though, it has paid off - either for my well-being and/or for my career.  And this is the case for my clients and for other creatives I know too; the deepest rewards come when you take risks with your art.  It doesn't always have to affect your pocketbook, but I think some level of fear about the chances you are taking is good.  It's a sign you are moving in the right direction.  

Still wondering what I mean?  Here are some more famous examples:

  • Drake, a former child actor who left the popular show Degrassi:The Next Generation to pursue music, starting with his own mix tape in 2006

  • Eve Ensler, playwright and creator of the Vagina Monologues, whose latest memoir, The Apology is a harrowing and deeply bare bones account of childhood abuse, written in the voice of her late father

  • Dave Grohl declining a permanent position as drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers after the dissolution of the iconic Nirvana, deciding instead to find success as the lead and founder of the Foo Fighters

Perhaps it doesn't seem Iike as much of a risk when someone is famous and decides to pivot their career, but I would argue that the stakes are even higher then; it's not about the paycheque any more, but their reputation that is at stake.  It's worth remembering that all artists, no matter their level of success, must grapple with when and how to take risks, in order to stay relevant and feel true to themselves as artists.

So, to return to the title of this piece, what are YOU willing to gamble for your career?