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Backstage Experts

How To Handle Competition

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How To Handle Competition

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 and less competent, and our higher thinking shuts down, moving us into a fight-or-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 do we handle this? Rather than fighting your own feelings of competition, try stepping into a collaborative stance instead.

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-players?

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.

Justina Vail is a life coach, master NLP practitioner, hypnotherapist, speaker, award-winning author, and award-winning actor. She is owner of Actors Life Coaching and author of the award-winning new book “How to be a Happy Actor in a Challenging Business: A Guide to Thriving Through it All."

Justina Vail coaches actors all over the world via Skype and in person. For info about private coaching packages as well as Actors Life Coaching seminars and workshops visit www.actorslifecoaching.com.

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