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Make sure you know the second shot

Posted by Mark Bennett on March 2, 2013


4223373030_df7722f9f7_bTONY MENDEZ: Can you can teach somebody to be a director in a day?

JOHN CHAMBERS: You can teach a rhesus monkey to be a director in a day.

- from the movie, “Argo”

Ben Affleck received a Golden Globe for Best Director for “Argo” and was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air. It’s a great interview and Affleck comes across as very intelligent and articulate and relates some interesting and funny stories about making Argo and about his career. One of the stories was about his experience as a first time director of “Gone Baby Gone.” Interviewer Terry Gross asked him what it was like as a first time director. Affleck talked about some advice he got from Kevin Costner, who had received an Oscar for directing his first film, “Dances with Wolves”:

AFFLECK: Yeah. I talked to – the one advantage I had is I could talk to other people who have done it. And I remember talking to Kevin Costner and saying, like, what do I do? I’m going to direct a movie. Kevin said: Make sure that on your first day, you know what your second shot is. And I was, like, what you mean? He said, everyone goes there and knows what their first shot is, and they do the first shot, and all of a sudden think: What am I going to do now? He’s, like, make sure you know the second shot, and that’ll get you rolling into, you know, we’re going to do this. We finished that. OK, guys, let’s go over here. And now the crew trusts you.

A director is very often seen as a leader in that people and resources must be guided towards the completion of a project that achieves a vision. Costner’s advice to “make sure you know the second shot” is good advice that is delivered well. As a leader, you need to have some kind of a plan for how you are going to achieve a goal and knowing what you think you will do after the first step is the best sign that you have at least some sort of plan. And as a leader, the people you lead need to see that you have some sort of a plan. The way Costner delivered that advice was also good; he made it concrete and put it in the language of what Affleck was trying to be a leader in – making movies.

So often, you read a book about Leadership and the concepts, like “have a plan”, are stuck in abstraction. You think, “yeah, a plan makes sense.” But then you don’t know how that translates into specific behaviors for your particular situation and you ask, “What does that mean I’m supposed to do?”

If you are a first-time leader or even an experienced leader in a circumstance that you are not familiar with, find that person who has experience and get that concrete advice that describes what behaviors you need to do to demonstrate leadership in this particular situation. If you are offering advice, make sure you give it in concrete terms that the recipient can act upon.

Photo by jinterwas

4 Responses to “Make sure you know the second shot”

  1. Wonderful tip!

  2. Meg Bear said

    OMG this is exactly right – if you can define the first two steps people will trust you enough that you can buy time to sort out step 3. I do this all the time. So well articulated.

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