5 Ways to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

Every January most gyms and yoga studios are filled to capacity, diet and stop-smoking books fly off the shelves, and brilliant schemes to make more money get hatched. But just a couple of weeks into a new year it’s estimated that 50 percent of us abandon at least one, if not all, of our resolutions.

So, why is that and how can you make your plans for 2014 stick?

1. Make them toward-motivated. New Year’s resolutions are often created because of dissatisfaction with how things currently are, and though that’s an important element of change, we can get stuck if it’s the driving force. Around this time of year a lot of actors talk about wanting to “lose” weight and the mind focuses on getting rid of rather than creating something. The thing is, change requires a deep commitment to what’s possible, and a powerful vision of where we want to be. So, rather than resolving to “lose” weight, choose a weight you want to be and imagine yourself living and breathing inside that body. Rather than saying you want to “get out of” debt or “stop” being broke, decide in numbers how much money you want going into your bank account every month based on the lifestyle you desire. Rather than swearing you’re “not going to screw up” any more auditions, build a picture of yourself as a powerful, creative actor who loves to serve the auditioning process and those involved. Our lives are created by the things we focus on, so make your resolutions about what you want to move toward what you want, not what you want to get rid of.

2. Plan your behavior. If the primary focus of your New Year’s resolutions is about end results, you’ll miss the important steps that’ll get you there. So once you have toward-motivated goals break them down into your behaviors. For example, what is one important behavior that will lead you to be the weight you want to be? Is it to eat smaller, more frequent meals, or run up every set of stairs you come to? What are a few essential behaviors that will bring you more money? Is it to create a spending budget or take on some extra time at a side job?  What behaviors will help you become more confident and skilled as an actor? Perhaps taking a new improv class or starting a filmmaking group with your friends will empower you. Make a list of all the behaviors that will take you to where you want to be and then live them out.

3. Make them doable and personal. That means your resolutions must be reasonably attainable and in your power to accomplish yourself. When goals are huge and hard to accomplish we can get overwhelmed and quickly lose steam, and we end up dropping them. So, bite off only as much as you can reasonably chew. Further, if you make a resolution that requires another person change their behavior, you’ll set yourself up for failure. None of us can change others. We can only change our responses to them. Resolutions are ideally about behaviors you want to improve in yourself, so be kind to yourself and meet the challenge with everything you’ve got.

4. Hold yourself accountable. The word “accountable” often has negative connotations, but what it really means is that you find ways to track and measure your progress. Examples of self-accountability are deciding on dates for specific steps and putting them in your calendar, setting up reminders each day, and checking boxes or crossing out items when they’re complete. Sharing your progress with a coach or friend can be motivating, but don’t hold yourself accountable to them. That way you don’t have to rely on anyone else to be a powerful creator of your own life and career.

5. Celebrate your successes. As you go along, even the smallest achievements deserve celebration. When you reward yourself in constructive ways, the seeds of further success are planted. You are encouraged to continue and expand on the resourceful behaviors that make you the person you want to be and bring the life you want to live.

With positive, specific, doable, measurable, and time-oriented goals, you can make 2014 a most happy and successful a year!

© 2013-2014 Justina Vail  • All Rights Reserved

5 Powerful Ways to Wrap Up 2013

How we make an entrance in any situation is important. It sets a tone. But how we leave is just as important—making a powerful impression, not only on others, but also in our own lives. The thing is, just like the final wrap on a shoot or closing night of a play, the end of a year is often filled with parties and busy activity, which leaves little room for important completion. And when we exit in a hurry it can affect where we go next, simply because we bring everything with us into new experiences—including all our unfinished business, our loose ends, and our limiting habits.

Here are some intentional ways to wrap up 2013 so that you can give 2014 the chance of a powerful start.

1. Say your thanks. We’re in a business that’s all about relationships, and acknowledging what others have done to support and encourage you along the way is part of building those relationships. Giving even the smallest gift to each of your representatives and their assistants will let them know how much you appreciate them and encourage the relationship to grow. This also goes for casting directors, directors, producers, studio executives, crew, and anyone else who has supported your work in any way. The gifts can cost very little if you’re on a small budget, but they do need to be personal, so use the information you’ve gathered about their interests and let them know you appreciate what they’ve done.

2. Complete your goals. When I say “complete” I don’t necessarily mean finish. Instead, I suggest reviewing, sorting, and taking action on your goals in some way so that you feel complete. One way to do that is to make a list of the things you had planned to get done this year and decide which ones you want to wrap up in the next few weeks, which ones you want to drop entirely, and which ones you want to place on your 2014 calendar. And while you’re at it, adjust the goals you bring with you into the new year so that they’re easier to accomplish the next time around.

3. Celebrate your triumphs. Many people make “to-do” lists, but not many make what I call a “ta-da!” list—which is of the triumphs or goals accomplished. Making a ta-da list for 2013 will give you the opportunity, not only to acknowledge the good things, but also celebrate them. When you focus on your successes and celebrate what you’ve worked hard to create, you’re encouraged to accomplish even more—with less effort.

4. Drop your baggage. Resentment and guilt can feel like carrying heavy bags around all the time, and as an actor you can’t be fully available if you’re being weighed down. To be free of that load you have to forgive and make amends, and this is a great time of year to get that done. Forgiving someone, whether they’re in your business or personal life, will help free you from the creative blocks holding you back. You probably ought not do it directly with them, and you don’t have to condone or forget what happened. You just have to let it go and move on.  When it comes to the things you’ve done to hurt others, in the kindest and most sensitive way, make your amends without defending or justifying your actions. Making peace within yourself and with others will mean walking forward unburdened and able to expand your life more freely.

5. Charge your batteries. Celebrating the holidays with friends and family can be a combination of fun, joyful, annoying, challenging, and above all, tiring. And just like nature, we can’t keep going all year long. We need take time to slow down, let go, and recharge. So, make sure you balance out the next few weeks, giving yourself the chance to let your hair down and connect with loved ones as well as have some quiet time to reflect and rest. If you really listen to you body, mind, and spirit, what really charges your batteries may be something you hadn’t though of, so be creative with the break.

Your power lies in being conscious, organized, and taking appropriate actions. Make the next few weeks a time of reflection and completion and you’ll create a solid platform to launch yourself and your acting career into those wonderful new adventures ahead.

© 2013 Justina Vail • All Rights Reserved

21 Ways To Stand Out In The Crowd

With so many reality shows emerging in recent years, a huge number people—fueled by images of overnight fame and fortune—are pouring into our industry hoping to become the next big star. Because of this, real artists are finding themselves surrounded by an ever-increasing crowd of wannabes vying for attention. Casting directors are now faced with hundreds—sometimes thousands—of submissions for the smallest roles, and because time is a factor, they often end up bringing in the actors they already know. This means other legitimate talent is lost among the sea of faces.

So, how do you stand out? Of course there are many ways to be noticed in a crowd. You could jump up and down. Take your top off. Twerk. Make loud noises. But those strategies usually create short-lived interest or ridicule. Instead, there are ways to stand out in the crowd in a professional way and be noticed as the real artist that you are. Here are some of them.

1. Take your work seriously. Being a respected artist requires that you become a master at your craft. If you’re not working consistently already, get out there and hone your skills in every way possible.

2. Don’t take yourself too seriously. We all make mistakes, and it’s how we handle it that makes the difference. Learn to laugh at yourself, brush yourself off, and carry on with the job at hand.

3. Be a server. The entertainment industry is full of actors who are hoping to get their break, but the actors who really stand out show up with something to give. An attitude of service makes people interested in what you have to offer.

4. Be disciplined. Artists often live by impulse and feeling, but those who really make it in the world of dollars and time constraints also develop the art of discipline. Consistently show up on time, honor your commitments, and be prepared.

5. Know thyself. Get feedback from others, and find out how you come across. This way you can accurately market yourself and target the roles that fit.

6. Say “no” when necessary. If you keep saying “yes” to everything that comes along, you’ll get lost. Get clear about what you really want and don’t be afraid to say “no” to what you don’t want.

7. Raise your emotional intelligence. There are more than enough wacky folks in the crowd so do your personal work and heal what needs to be healed—not only for the sake of your work but for the business itself.

8. Love thyself. Self-love has nothing to do with the ego. It is a confidence and friendship inside you that elevates your relationships with everything else. You’ll stand out by being modest yet happy with who you are.

9. Believe you can do it. When you truly believe you can create what you envision and you take the steps to make it happen, not much can get in the way.

10. Act like you’re already successful. People who act like wannabes tend to stay that way. Start being the person you want to be, and life will meet you there.

11. Do whatever you do with excellence. Even if you’re currently waiting tables or doing extra work—excel in it. Practicing excellence anywhere prepares you to deliver high-quality work as a professional.

12. Be a master collaborator. Be a great team player. Make your fellow cast members look good, and show up for the benefit of all.

13. Be kind to everyone. Lots of people in our industry are only nice to those who can do something for them. Stand out by treating everyone as important and interesting—even those who can do nothing for you in return.

14. Be response-able. Respond to e-mails, calls, requests, and inquiries as soon and often as you can. Your responsiveness will have you stand out as a person who respects others and communicates well.

15. Be responsible. If you miss an appointment or make a mistake, you’ll gain respect from the industry if you take responsibility for your own actions and make the amends you need to make.

16. Get organized. Get to know what it’s like to be organized in your own life so that when the opportunity turns up, you’re ready and able to be part of a larger organization, like a production or show.

17. Have purpose. Purpose is one of the most important things an actor can have. I’m not talking about the popular things like “I want to win an award,” but rather a deeper understanding of why you’re even in the business and what your higher intention is.

18. Practice listening. Learn to listen from your heart, to listen with intuition, and to listen to what’s being said beyond the words. You will stand out in life and as an actor.

19. Be around those who elevate you. There are plenty of miserable, complaining actors sitting around saying they should be famous by now. Positive, proactive, creative, and inspiring artists rise to the top, and if you’re going to be around anyone, make it the people you want to be more like.

20. Set achievable goals. For many, goals are impossible to accomplish because they’ve not been thought through. Get clear about what you want and get some support in creating an easy, doable plan for your career path.

21. Be inspired. A passion for life attracts us to the actors we love and keeps them on our screens. To stand out and inspire others, you must first be inspired.

Practice these traits and you’ll not only stand out in the crowd, you’ll probably travel far beyond it.

© 2013 Justina Vail • All Rights Reserved

What’s Love Got to Do With Your Success?

Most actors know what it’s like to experience a roller coaster of highs and lows in their acting career, and depending on what kind of feedback you get from the industry, one moment you might feel on top of the world, and the next like you don’t deserve success and will never have it.

The word “success” means something different for everyone, but getting down to the roots of it, it’s whatever supports your happiness and fulfillment. One thing we’re learning about success is that no matter what’s showing up in our outside world, the dynamics that occur in each of our interior worlds is ultimately the creator of our human experience, and therefore our sustained success or continued failure.

Our interior world will also affect the way the outside world shows up for us. For example, if you’re critical, impatient, and unkind to yourself, you’ll wear it all over you like a suit and the people around you will respond accordingly. You’ll grate on others as you grate on yourself. You’ll inspire the same criticism from others as you bring to your own ears. No level of skill, marketing, materials, or representation is going to make you successful if you’re at war with yourself. It certainly won’t bring you happiness and fulfillment. However if you’re supportive, friendly, and encouraging to yourself, you’ll create an inner confidence that allows you to walk into any room and give others that same level of confidence in you. You become someone others want to know more about; they want to be around you.

Your success is defined by the relationship you have with yourself, and love is the ultimate ingredient.

“Love? You mean self-love? Isn’t loving yourself arrogant and egotistical?” you might ask. What’s interesting is that the ego is as far away from love as we can get. The ego is fear—fear of not being seen, not being enough, screwing up, being left behind, and not mattering. And when we’re in our egos, we very often compensate with vanity, defense, bravado, entitlement, and arrogance. Or we go the other way and feel that old familiar doubt, insecurity, disgust, criticism and impatience with ourselves. Most often it’s an unpredictable pendulum swing between the two. The point is, neither end of that pendulum swing is love, and both sabotage our ultimate success in every area of life.

Applying self-love toward your success takes a commitment to be different than you’ve been before. It means acting as kindly to yourself as you would to a beloved friend. It means changing out that critical voice inside with one that’s realistic and encouraging. It means dedicating yourself to healing your wounds, getting to know who you really want to be, and showing up every day accordingly. It means building trust in yourself by taking actions in favor of your long-term good, not your short-term impulses. It also means letting go of the things that hold you back, harm you, and distract you, and sometimes even setting firm boundaries to keep them out.

What’s also great about self-love is that, unlike egoism, it moves outward in collaborative, generous, and caring ways toward others, including directors, producers, casting directors, fellow actors, friends, and loved ones all get to benefit as well.

If you want success in your acting career—and in your life as a whole—you have to have to start with the foundation of it all, and that’s you. Then, as that old Tina Turner song asks, “What’s love got to do with it?” Let’s remember together that the answer is “Everything.”

 

© 2013 Justina Vail • All Rights Reserved

This article is also on BackStage

7 Ways to Get the Happy Actor Factor

In the work I’ve done over the years with both actors and non-actors, I’ve found that the core purpose to most of our hopes and dreams is to be happy. We have different ways we try to attain that happiness, and sometimes we mistake happiness for other things like excitement, ecstasy, and the ego’s pleasure. However, real, sustainable happiness is where we become aligned with the harmony of our universe. We stop suffering because we cease resisting life.

In the past few years I made it my job to study all this—through my own personal journey, the journeys of my clients, and the scientific research on human happiness that has been rapidly emerging. One of the things I learned is that 50 percent of our happiness is due to our genetics; 10 percent to our circumstances; and a huge 40 percent from specific factors that we can control. With a 31 year history in the entertainment industry – 20 of them working as an actor – it seemed natural to write a book for actors, sharing what those happy factors are. I am happy to say, How to be a Happy Actor in a Challenging Business: A Guide to Thriving Through it All has made a positive difference to the lives of many.

Here I share some brief reminders that will raise your happy actor factor!

1. Be kind to yourself. You’re the only person you can control when it comes to how you’re treated. Bottom line is: Your experience of life is very much a reflection of the relationship you have with yourself.

2. Believe in something greater than yourself, whatever you want to call it. Research shows that we are far happier when we have some sort of spiritual practice. Sharing that spiritual practice with others increases happiness levels further still.

3. Surround yourself with people who are positive, supportive, and inspiring. Choose friends and colleagues who elevate you to be your best self. We are profoundly influenced by those we choose to be around.

4. Be in environments that nourish and ground you. It has been shown that our surroundings influence our happiness levels in a multitude of ways. Be intentional about the spaces you live and work in. Peaceful, open, organized, and uplifting surroundings are great soil for happiness to grow in.

5. Forgive. All of it. Resentment is a poison that eats away at the vessel it sits in. Forgiveness frees you. It does not condone another’s actions or inactions; it simply liberates you from the pain of the past and allows you to be as creative and healthy as you want to be.

6. Serve others the way they would like to be served. Making a positive difference in the lives of others, whether it’s through your work or through other means, will raise your happy factor. It gets you out of your own way and connects you with a universal truth – that there is really only one of us here.

7. Be inspired, not tired. Find out what has deep meaning and importance for you, create a robust vision for yourself based on that, and make every day a dedication to it. You cannot be jaded when you tap into your own source of inspiration.

Happy days include disappointments, losses, and pain. It is how you choose to respond to life that will determine how life responds to you.

 

© 2013 Justina Vail • All Rights Reserved

This article is also on BackStage

How to Belong in the Acting Business

Author: Justina Vail, PCC CHt  5/3/13

No matter how long you’ve been an actor and no matter how much time and effort you’ve put into the pursuit of your career, do you still feel you don’t quite belong in the business?

Belonging is a fundamental need for us. We are intrinsically tribal creatures and our survival depends on having a place in our community. The acting business is a tribe where actors make a life and a living from what they do—and it’s probably the one you’ve wanted to belong to.

There’s an interesting and unique dynamic in our industry that tells actors they’re on the ‘outside’ until they get that magical big break. Many actors buy into this myth and spend their lives feeling like they’re standing at an invisible wall, their faces pressed against the surface, looking in, and watching other actors succeed. “Let me in!” is their cry. Breaking through that invisible wall becomes the major focus, and a sense of belonging is made dependent upon circumstances and other people’s decisions. This takes an actor’s power out of their own hands, and places it squarely in the hands of others.

Feeling that you’re not invited or that you don’t belong in your chosen tribe can feel like you don’t matter and have little value—and that can be really hard to deal with. For many actors, it diminishes confidence and therefore their ability to show up, do good work, and book the jobs. So the cycle continues and any remaining sense of belonging drops even further. However, there is some good news. A sense of belonging in the acting business can be created, no matter what the industry is telling you.

First of all, it’s important to let go of the idea that you’re going to be ‘discovered’ someday. That hardly ever happens, and hoping for it will only make you uninteresting to those looking for talent. Real success requires that you take responsibility for your own future, and that means being proactive and focusing on what you have control of. Instead of waiting for someone to notice you or give you an opportunity, make the opportunities happen. Become what it is you want to be. Live the life, right now, of a working, productive actor. How? By acting.

Actors need to ACT. Waiting for the phone to ring, sending out endless headshots, and waiting outside audition rooms can kill the creative spirit if that’s mostly what you’re doing. Artists are kept alive by being creative. Isn’t that what you’re here for after all?

So, be proactive. Take a great acting class, get together with friends to write scenes and film them, find plays to rehearse until it’s in the marrow of your bones. Create something as an actor every single day, whether it’s writing scripts, filming shorts, rehearsing plays, or developing characters. There is little to stop you from being creative in a world where you can make an entire film on your phone.

And while you’re busy being the actor you’re here to be, you can also use those skills to act-as-if you belong. You can stop hanging out with complaining, out-of-work actors and surround yourself with equally creative, positive artists. You can network at industry events, get involved in film festivals and conventions, attend screenings, and become a reader or do open mics.

If you really want to belong to the acting business, you need to immerse yourself, contribute to it, show up as your best self, and earn your place there. The business will respond by welcoming you further into its folds and rewarding you for the contribution you have made.

 

© 2013 Justina Vail • All Rights Reserved

This article is also on BackStage

3 Ways to Become a Lead Actor

Author: Justina Vail 4/15/13

Most actors imagine themselves in lead roles in plays, series, and movies, and spend their early days studying the craft as well as marketing themselves. Yet in order to succeed, actors have to be prepared for the full reality of what they’re asking for—and creating a sustainable career in lead roles requires skills beyond what you might expect.

First of all, what do you consider to be the benefits of being a lead actor? The typical answer I hear is: To have better roles, get positive attention and accolades, have more creative control, and make more money. These are important things to many actors. However, I rarely hear, “to inspire others to learn and grow,” “to make a positive difference in the industry,” or “to help projects become successful through my presence.” Those who do say that tend to be the ones who are already successful and their attitude was probably part of what got them there.

Booking a lead role in any project brings responsibility to the project itself and to the people in it—which essentially describes leadership.

In his best-selling book Inspirational Presence: The Art of Transformational Leadership,” Jeff Evans, Ph.D., a leadership development
consultant writes, “As a leader’s sphere of influence increases, the requirements for skills related to emotional intelligence goes up as well.” In other words, the more successful you become as an actor, the more you’ll need competencies that go far beyond technical or creative ability. You will need higher levels of interpersonal skills. You need to be a good leader.

In an interview I had recently with Jeff, he shared three ways an actor can become a better leader, and therefore a more likely candidate for lead roles.

1. Stand for the project. Hold the highest good of the overall project and show up every day to make it happen. This means being more than just part of the creative process. It means doing your part to create the shared vision of the project as it emerges.

2. Empower Others. Work just as hard to make the other cast members as successful as you do for yourself. A great lead actor will perform lines off-camera just as fully as when he or she is on-camera. Give people the highest possible base for their performances. Creative processes can produce uncertainty and conflict, so work to bring people together in an environment of success and avoid negativity and drama on the set.

3. Be Inspired. Many leaders talk about motivating others to change for the better. Motivation, however, requires an outside force to move people along. Inspiring others, on the other hand, plants a seed inside them that grows and becomes it’s own force of change. To inspire others, you have to be inspired, and that requires you to be in harmony with your choices and direction. Be a force of inspiration by making sure you’re on path and making a positive difference no matter where you are in your career.

I’ve learned many things from Jeff’s teaching, one being that leadership skills are essential for every one of us no matter what we are doing. Being a good leader means that you contribute to the system you’re in and inspire others toward something greater than what already exists— and that means you get to be a force of positive energy in a world that really needs it.

 

© 2013 Justina Vail • All Rights Reserved

Why Your Exit is Just as Important as Your Entrance

Author: Justina Vail, PCC CHt 3/12/13

In the business of acting, we usually talk about making an entrance. There’s a focus on how you enter rooms, start scenes, and begin working with people. Yet a very important factor in the unfolding of your life and career is how you exit.

Everything ends at some point, and how you act during that time will color and shape what you create next. For example, if you’ve decided you must leave your agent to go to another, you are exiting a relationship and an agreement with them, and how you act will affect what you experience next. The same goes for an audition—how you button up, not only the acting scene but also the actual moment between you and the casting director or producers, will greatly determine whether you book the role or not.

Why is that?

First of all, you leave a taste in their mouth—you leave an impression that determines what they will feel and think about you forever, no matter what came before it. An agent who’s been fired unkindly will probably always think and talk about you negatively. One that’s been treated with respect may even keep the door open, or spread good word. At an audition, it becomes less important how great your reading was if you rush your exit, fumble around, apologize, or walk into a closet (it happens!) That’s what they will remember. Some not so great readings can be overlooked when a powerful exit happens and the last thing everyone remembers is how happy they were to meet you.

Secondly, how you exit leaves a taste in your own mouth. It will determine how you feel about an audition, a performance, a relationship, an agreement, and most importantly yourself.  By your actions, you have decided who you want to be as a person as you move forward, and that affects whether you feel good inside, which affects the future you create.

One way to use exits is to think of them as opportunities to start again in a better way. You get to decide how you want to engage the world, others, and yourself. You have the immediate gift to choose integrity above any fears, resentments, or judgments you may have. You have the opportunity to say “yes” to honesty, compassion, care, and honoring what feels “right” in your gut. You become whole and undivided in your thoughts and feelings about others and yourself. You get to be complete.

So, get clear about how you want to exit a room. Practice leaving meetings and auditions with the best, most grounded part of you leading the way, having made a positive difference for the people there. When you move on from a business or personal relationship, communicate with those you’re leaving behind. Express your gratitude for what they have done for you. Be kind. Let them respond without judgment or defense. Treat them as you would like to be treated no matter how they have treated you. It’s about how you act, not how others act, that you carry with you into your future.

Your new beginnings can be clean and powerful, uncluttered by what’s unfinished, and empowered by your knowing of who you have chosen to be and what you bring into the next chapter of your adventure.

© 2013 Justina Vail • All Rights Reserved
This article is also on BackStage

Stop Fighting Your Success!

Author: Justina Vail, PCC CHt – 2/27/13

Have you been striving for years to make your acting career turn into something tangible? Have you found that, no matter how much marketing you do, how many acting classes you sweat through, and how many great headshots you send out, your career seems to be stuck? And do you ever wonder, What am I doing wrong?

If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. I can’t count how many actors I’ve coached, at every career level, who come in telling me they’re doing all the right things, yet their vision of the future has been just that—a vision of the future. It hasn’t had the chance to become a reality.

Why? Very often the reason we get stuck is that we’re not aligning with what we want.

Creating the career you want requires making smart choices and taking specific actions, and it also has to make sense in your internal world— where your beliefs, thoughts, states, and intentions live. If those inside elements are fighting all the actions you’re taking on the outside then you’ll probably have a hard time making things happen. Even a belief you’re not aware of can shape what comes back to you. If, for example, you have a subconscious belief that you aren’t interesting enough to be a series regular yet you really want to book one, there’s disagreement. There’s conflict between the belief and the goal. Your behavior in auditions and meetings will then be affected by that conflict, your reactions will keep backing up the belief, others will sense it, and you probably won’t book the series regular!

Certainly, it’s not a black and white world and some people who feel undeserving still have huge careers. Yet in my experience with many busy, working actors, I’ve found that if they aren’t aligned with the good that’s already happening to them it either doesn’t last or they just can’t enjoy it, so they’re back to being stuck in a life they don’t want. However, when they free themselves from limiting thoughts and beliefs, and begin to align themselves with their vision, they usually move on to deeply fulfilling and sustainable careers.

So, stop fighting your own dream and start aligning with it. Ask yourself, Am I in conflict with my own vision of the future? If the answer is “yes” – and trust me it will be somewhere – then take time to become aware of your own deep beliefs, your habitual thoughts, and your go-to moods. Make sure that they’re working for, not against, your career. Have them all agree on your vision for the future. Yours is a unique and important dream and you’re the only one with the power to step in and claim it.

© 2013 Justina Vail • All Rights Reserved

This article is also on BackStage

How To Handle Competition

Author: Justina Vail, PCC CHt – 2/15/13

You walk into an audition waiting room and your throat tightens as you size up the other actors. A voice in your head starts to say, Most of these actors have more credits than me. These people are ridiculously good looking. What the heck are my lines again? Everyone else has the lines down. No, I’m going to beat everyone out and nail this part! I have more talent than anyone here. Ugh, the actor who just came in is way better for this role. Why am I even here? You swing from insecurity to defiance and back again, becoming a mixed-up, distracted mess. To compensate for this you try to convince yourself that you don’t care whether you get the role or not. Yeah, whatever, I don’t need this part anyway.

Right.

Being competitive doesn’t help you get the part. In fact, for most actors, it’s an uncomfortable, self-sabotaging experience. What happens to your mind, emotions, and physiology in a competitive state takes you out of the moment and away from your power.

Many of you might argue that competition is a fundamental part of human success. Granted, there are elements of the drive it creates that can give us a boost, but research shows that ultimately it takes us down. Being competitive comes from a lack of trust. There’s a me against them, mentality—a belief that you have to win at the cost of others and that there’s not enough to go around. When we think with low levels of trust we become less creative, less competent, and our higher thinking shuts down, moving us into a fight/flight mode. None of this is a good platform to operate from. Even business organizations are realizing that a competitive stance is destructive to long-term profitability and success.

So, how to handle this? Rather than fighting your own feelings of competition, try stepping into a collaborative stance instead.

Actors Collaborate

Many of the producers I know say the majority of actors enter auditions with a self-involved “I’m here to get the part” attitude. The actors who stand out and usually book the roles are the ones who come in interested in serving the project. After all, the reason any project succeeds—or any actor has a lasting career—is because of the relationships that were built and the collaborations that occurred. Collaboration is about serving the good of the whole as opposed to oneself. It comes from believing that we all have something unique to offer and that everyone deserves to win. It’s about trusting in the bigger picture. Putting aside talent, do you think Ryan Gosling, Anne Hathaway, or Bradley Cooper have the careers they have because they’ve been focusing on competing against other actors, or because they have collaborative, team-player spirits?

So, when it comes to competition in audition waiting rooms perhaps a new, more ‘collaborative you’ can stop seeing other actors as the enemy of your success and instead regard them as your allies in the goal to make something good happen. Perhaps you can open your heart, soften your defenses, and know that showing up to contribute to the whole somehow will mean you—and everyone else—will probably end up gaining more than you ever imagined.

 

© 2013 Justina Vail • All Rights Reserved

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