Acting (and life) is about transactions. Every transaction is made up of two components. There are those aspects of the transaction we control, and those aspects of the transaction we don’t. Appreciating the difference will allow you to calmly do what you need to, while ignoring all the noise and distractions that end up pulling us in multiple directions, chasing every opportunity presented to us. When you are in control, you pursue opportunities that are based on your goals. When you let others control you, your goals are superseded by the goals of others.
Here are six things you do have control over.
1. You have control over your goals. The best way to take control of your acting career from the beginning is to set extremely clear and specific goals. It’s like planning a vacation. You should know the times, dates, people, places, and how it will all come about. The clearer they are, the easier it is to see if what you are doing is in line with what you want, and it is also much easier to avoid distractions.
2. You have control over your plan. It is not enough to have goals. A longterm goal can seem beyond our grasp if we don’t break it down into smaller more digestible components. Once you know your goal, create an energy line on paper and put it up on the wall so you can actually see yourself going from milestone to milestone, finally ending at your goal. An energy line is more appropriate than a timeline because we don’t control time. We control our energy. How you focus your energy will largely dictate how much time things will take.
3. You control how you feel. This may seem counterintuitive, because feelings seem like a natural reaction to circumstances, but it’s how you look at circumstances that dictate what feelings arise from them. Learn that very few things are worth distracting you from your goals, and soon all those little insults and injuries will be water off a duck’s back. And after all, what would make you happier than knowing you are doing all the right things to make your dreams come true?
4. You control how you deal with the world. How you deal with others will have an enormous impact over how you are treated. If you are a ray of sunshine everywhere you go, and if you take the good and bad in stride and strive to add value to every situation, it won’t be long before others are clamoring for your company, lining up to have you involved in their projects, parties, or whatever. If you don’t have skills, you start at the bottom, and by taking initiative and having a great attitude, you pick up skills along the way, simultaneously building powerful relationships.
5. You have control over your reactions to others. Get mistreated by a casting director, agent, teacher, or your mother? Realize that how people behave has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you. If they are mad, sad, demeaning, or scornful, it shows their own inner turmoil, so try to remember that. Let their negative energy pass through you and not into you. Feel compassion for those who are in obvious pain. Don’t add to it. If you choose not to react, their negativity soon runs out of steam. Emotions need fuel. The quickest way to extinguish the fires of anger and frustration are to throw buckets of love on them. Start with yourself and work your way outwards.
6. You control what you do in the room. Actors often fall apart in the room because they think they are there to please people, and if they don’t please them, their will be negative consequences. These thoughts mean instant death. Focus on what you are doing—and only what you are doing, not the results of what you are doing. Take charge of the room. Walk in brimming with confidence, get comfortable, and if things go awry, simply state that you are going to start again—no discussion, no apologies. Just get over your ego, emotions, and fear, and do it. They have no idea what they want. They brought you in to show them what they need, so walk in and do it the way you want to do it. Enter and leave with your head held high, regardless of the outcome. And work like mad on your skills!
Next week, I’ll discuss what actors cannot control, so stay tuned!
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David Patrick Green is a professional actor and the founder of Hackhollywood.com, a membership-based website dedicated to empowering and educating actors around the globe on how to become a professional actor. His simple five-step approach inspires actors to be ruthlessly creative in their approach to the art and business of acting and life in general. He has an MBA from the University of Southern California and was an international management consultant before realizing Platinum frequent-flyer status had few rewards other than boredom, bedbugs, and beer. David is also author of the “Become a Famous Actor” series of books available at Amazon.com. He has lived and worked as an actor in Los Angeles, Vancouver, and Toronto and coaches/consults to actors and businesses who want to get on the short path to success while maintaining a sense of humor. He is happy to be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.