From time to time, I flirt with re-entering the land of the gainfully employed. The idea of a regular paycheck and benefits and paid vacation and a creative culture and daily interaction with people I respect . . . well, sometimes these concepts have shiny appeal.
I recently entertained such a flirtation. The role was for a “Director/Creative Director” at an ad agency. They were looking for someone who could make magic out of their clients’ smaller budget projects without having to turn to an outside production company.
It was a role made for me . . . all my advertising experience, combined with my directing experience from the last six years, molded into one position.
By the way, this agency was easily on my top five list. They made work that consistently showed up in all the annuals. And somehow, they even had a reputation for creating a culture of work/life balance.
I applied, and they responded. My interview couldn’t have gone any better. I asked the right questions, and answered theirs with honesty and excitement.
They called me in for a second interview, where I was to meet all the department heads and have lunch with the principles. Which was when I consciously confronted the excitement I was feeling with some hard questions:
Is this position representative of who I want to be, or is it more about who I once was?
I sought the council of people on both sides. People who I knew would tell me, “This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Go get it.” As well as people who would say, “Your gifts should not be confined solely to advertising.”
Ultimately, I consulted myself. I sat down in silence and meditated. And what came to me were all the times over the past five and a half years that I have felt in flow. Moments during filming “Lemonade” and “Lemonade: Detroit” and “365 Days: A Year in Happy Valley” when I felt that this was where I was meant to be. I was creating. I was making work that mattered. And I was doing it for something beyond myself.
So I called the head of HR and explained that I would not be pursuing their amazing opportunity any further. That I was too far along in building my own business. And it was the toughest decision I had ever had to make in my career.
Now it’s up to me to make this a choice I won’t regret.