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Movin’ On to Bigger and Better

Chris Lose • April 2020LD at Large • April 8, 2020

Illustration by Andy Au

You got fired. Your life sucks, your bank account is empty, and no one wants to hang out with you. I guess you better go eat worms. Or… You quit your job because it wasn’t working out and you need to find a new gig that fulfills all of your earthly desires and whims. Or… You want to progress past your current gig because you were meant for bigger and better things in life. In all of these situations, it’s time to move on, and you are nervous. This article is here to let you know that you are not alone, you are right to be nervous, and that you have little to fear. You are going to be alright. You are not your job. You are going to survive this storm, and you are going to be a better person because of it.

‡‡         You Got Fired.

I got fired too. In rock ‘n’ roll, it’s rare that we actually get fired. Usually, we just don’t get asked back. Most productions are under no obligation to tell us why they aren’t asking us back. They have no moral or financial obligation to tell us why we don’t fit in or why they don’t require our specific services. They will never send us an email with a questionnaire on how they can better fit our needs in the future. They just go silent and try to avoid us at all costs. Even if we do corner them and ask direct questions, they can fib and say things like “We just want to go another direction,” or “We are going to explore new options,” or “It’s not you, it’s us.” These might all be part of the truth, but it’s rare that we get the full truth. When I got fired, I had the luxury of getting what I believe to be the full truth. I was told that “Becky just doesn’t like you anymore and she wants someone new.” I couldn’t have asked for a more honest explanation. I was given a week to train a new person on my job and a week to plead my case to Becky. She understood, but the wheels had already been set in motion. After a week off, I had a new gig making more money with less pressure.

‡‡         You Left Your Crappy Job.

I left, too. Good for you. You are brave and motivated. It wasn’t working out. You gave it your best shot, and it didn’t work out. You aren’t meant for that gig. You need to be in the fresh air. I suffer from chronic “grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side-itus.” When I am not touring, I want to be touring. When I’m touring, I want to be at home. When I’m running a time-coded show, I want to be punting. When I’m punting, I want a time-coded show. It’s a vicious cycle. I give every job my full devotion, but once I lose my passion, I need something new. This leads me to switch jobs every three to four years. It’s not that I dislike any particular job, but I need variety. I like to think of it as a feature of my personality and not a bug. When I tried to work a resident show in Las Vegas, I knew that I was ready to quit touring. I knew that I was ready to settle down and strap on the golden handcuffs. That was the first time I quit touring. That was four attempts to quit touring ago. You left that job for a reason. You may not know what that reason is right now. You may not know for several years. But somehow you know that it’s right to leave, and you should respect your intuition.

‡‡         You Want More.

I want more, too. Sometimes there is just no more polite way to put it — you are better than this. You are too good for this job, and you know it. Maybe you started as warehouse staff to gain some knowledge, and now it’s time to move on. Maybe you took a job as a stagehand, and your stage manager is moving and leaving a vacancy. Maybe you are tired of humping feeder and want to start programming. Maybe you are done programming and want to design. Whatever the scenario, you are ready to jump out of the nest and soar.

Many times, we have a hard time moving on because we have become comfortably numb in our current position. We are convinced that no one can replace us. We have delusions of irreplaceability. I can tell you from experience that we are all replaceable. Eventually, we have to learn that, in order to advance, we need to replace ourselves. We need to find the next person who is ready to step in our footprints. We need to lower down the ladder and pull up the next generation. This means that you have to turn down some gigs. If you are a crew chief trying to assert that you are a programmer now, you will need to turn down crew chief gigs and suggest a suitable replacement. You will have to take the risk of waiting for the next programmer gig to come available while you scrimp.

‡‡         Our Jobs are Not Our Identity.

This article was inspired by a recent decision of my good friend Robb Jibson of So Midwest Inc. He said, “Knowing when to move is something I don’t know that I will ever master.” For years, he felt like he identified “with.” He was Robb “with Incubus,” Robb “with Panic! At the Disco,” and Robb “with My Chemical Romance.” Up until about 30 days ago, he was “with Fall Out Boy.” But in the six years that he was “with” Fall Out Boy, he had grown his small business into a bricks and mortar studio with a staff of people producing way more work than he could have ever dreamt possible. “We are designing shows for artists, brands and anything in between, and handling almost anything asked of us, from video content to lighting to special effects to artistic direction,” he explained. But since he was still “with Fall Out Boy,” it was difficult to be in the studio keeping up with all the changes. “I felt that it was best to allow both of us to start fresh. Making that change has been wrought with so much self-doubt, fear of missing out and second guessing,” he said.

So much of our business identifies with the project we are “with” rather than who we are. As if someone who is “with” a club act is somehow less than someone who is “with” a stadium act. “As Chris mentioned above, we really need to be in tune ‘with’ who we are, because we are just a few steps away from being ‘with’ nobody,” Robb asserted. It is important to talk about who we “are” instead of who we are “with.” It’s cooler to be Robb who is “with” his family. “To date, the coolest thing I’ve been ‘with’ is my dog and my lady and all the fun people that keep asking us to be a part of their projects,” Robb concludes.

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