I’m going to talk about a fairly simple concept, but one that I think many people lose sight of when attempting to make significant changes in their lives. Many people stick to the mindset that ‘in order to do the things I want to do, I have to first do all the things I “need” to do.’ I know I’m definitely guilty of this kind of this thinking from time to time. But if I pay attention to my experience, it actually teaches me something different.
I’ve learned that what we spend our time doing, will create more opportunities to do that thing. This recently became very clear to me. I’m going to use acting as an example because that is one of my main passions but it could literally be substituted for anything.
“Where focus goes, energy flows.” – Tony Robbins (source)
The nature of working in the entertainment industry is rocky at best. It can be a bit of a feast or famine situation. I’m sure you’ve heard of the age-old saying, “when it rains, it pours.” I’ve found that to be so true in the acting world. Over the summer I really wasn’t getting many auditions and I started taking a lot of video editing work, sometimes up to 40 or 50 hours a week.
I quickly found myself with more editing jobs than I could keep up with, but no acting gigs. While I enjoy editing and it’s a good way to pay the bills, I don’t want to spend every day doing it. But the editing jobs kept coming in. One gig could lead to 3 more because of word of mouth, and I kept getting better and better because I was doing so much of it. Suddenly it became very clear to me, if I wanted to act more, I better start acting more.
Make It Happen
I decided to sign up for an advanced acting class where I get to work on intense scenes every week. It was a challenge at first because it had been shamefully long since I’d had to learn a massive 10-page scene and it was like working a muscle that had been lying dormant. The class had been a great workout and within 3 weeks I ended up booking a supporting role in a comedic feature film, for which I recently got to head out to Ayers Cliff in Quebec for 8 days to join the shoot.
While I was in Quebec, getting to have a blast doing what I love, my agent messaged me with a big audition for a major network show that perfectly worked out with my schedule. I had to take a train back to Toronto immediately after shooting and taxi straight to the audition with all my luggage. I felt the momentum like I was riding a wave, and I didn’t feel nervous or out of place in the casting room. The audition was part knowing the script and part improv, and it just so happened that the director of the film I was just working with on the feature loved improv, so I felt very ready for the challenge because I had just spent a week working that muscle too!
As I left the audition room the casting director had a big smile on her face and I could tell she was happy. That’s not to say I will book the role, but I felt 100% ready for that audition and what she saw was a prepared actor who made strong choices, and gave a good read. That’s all I can hope for because there are so many elements out my control in the casting process. Not booking a role can come down to something as simple as height, or looking too much like the lead, or even looking too much like the director’s ex. You never really know. But the fact of the matter is the audition went really well, and I even saw the reader in the hallway after and she gleefully told me I did a great job.
I chose to take a class but there are many other ways I could’ve stayed fresh. It could’ve been through writing my own short film and acting in it, producing a play, writing a scene and hiring a small crew to film it, even performing monologues on the street. I mean, the list goes on and on. The important part is doing it. Whatever your thing is, the thing you want to do but are holding yourself back from, the reason you clicked on this article, find a way to do it.
“If you stay ready, you don’t need to get ready.” – Will Smith (source)
Failure Is Mandatory
To get to a point where I could audition confidently didn’t just take one class though. I started acting at the age of 4 and have taken dozens of classes and workshops and acted on many sets to get to the comfort level I’m at now. I’ve failed hundreds of times if not thousands, but the importance of keeping sharp in my craft has never felt more necessary. When I’m not keeping up with it, the slightest few pages can be daunting to learn and perform, but when I am practicing and staying focused my work seems to flow effortlessly and I even find memorization is much easier.
Based on my experience, the key thing that separates professionals from amateurs is the professional’s willingness to fail over and over. I think it’s absolutely imperative that whatever your pursuit, you redefine your relationship with failure. Depending on what stage you are at, it could take years to become even slightly competent but if you really love what you’re doing, keep at it and it will be worth it.
“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill (source)
Choose Your Struggles Wisely
Any career path, any relationship, any endeavor worth anything will come with its own struggles. As much as I enjoy the sporadic life of an actor, I know some people that have chosen this profession who don’t seem happy. They might love being on set, but they despise the lifestyle that goes with it.
Getting last minute auditions, not seeing friends and family for months on end, waking up for super early call times (sometimes as early as 3 AM), long 16-18 hour days, and the non-stop audition process where you have to prove yourself over and over again, this can all be incredibly daunting so you really have to love the entire process, or most of it at least.
I recently read the book, “The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck” by Mark Mason and I found his ideas on struggle quite enlightening. If you are pursuing something but find the pain greatly outweighing the pleasure you get from that thing, it may be worth re-evaluating why you are doing it in the first place. If you are spending your life working towards a goal but rarely enjoying the journey, what’s the point?
That being said, a certain amount of struggle is necessary for any growth and usually the greater the goal, the greater the struggle. So it’s up to us to choose what struggles we want in our lives and if the struggles we choose are worth it.
“Happiness requires struggle.” – Mark Mason (source)
Now to get back to the simple message: What you put your time and focus into will bring you more of (insert that thing here). Change starts within, that’s for sure, but it continues with action. Love and light!
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho (source)