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Secret Agent Man

Stop!  Don't Be Your Worst Enemy

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Stop!  Don't Be Your Worst Enemy
Over the years I've seen a lot of good actors get in their own way by having the wrong outlook on their careers. I tried my best to steer them in the right direction, but they never listened, and now they're all distant memories. I'm hoping you'll be smarter. So here are a few mental adjustments you can make right now that just might help you survive this soul-sucking industry.

Stop Thinking Life Should Be Easy

You've chosen the toughest career in the world, and I have a news flash for you: It's never going to get easier. Even when you start achieving a certain level of success, there will always be obstacles in your way. But look at it this way: If climbing Mount Everest meant a quick stroll up a hill while munching on a Clif Bar, then everyone would do it, and the accomplishment would mean nothing.

Stop Whining

Actors love to complain. "If only that casting director had given me a chance to audition for that special role that would've changed my life." "Woe is me. I can't get agents or managers to come see my brilliant three-act play about life in Connecticut." "Oh, why can't that darn Secret Agent Man be nicer and more supportive?" Just stop it! Coffee is for closers. You knew that when you decided to become an actor, so stop crying in your soup and start working on your eye of the tiger.

Stop Being Embarrassed

Why do actors always apologize for being actors? When I ask a waiter if he's an actor, he'll always shrug, roll his eyes, and nod. It makes me feel like I caught him masturbating in the kitchen. I've never understood this lack of pride. Where does it come from? Is it because there are soldiers in this world who are fighting for their lives, while your biggest concern is getting a callback for a few lines on a TV show you never watch? Listen to me, everyone: If you don't take pride in your chosen career, why should anyone in this business treat you with respect?

Stop Beating Yourself Up

Sure, you screwed up somewhere down the line. Maybe you blew that big audition by farting during your monologue, or maybe you made a joke about Mexican day laborers while you were meeting an agent named Gonzales. Hey, that's life. We all make mistakes. The trick is to learn your lesson and move on! Mistakes only haunt you if you allow them to, and life's too short for that kind of thinking.

Stop Caring About What Other Actors Are Doing

You can't spend your life comparing yourself with others. That path leads nowhere, because there will always be someone out there who's doing better than you. To prove my point, let's push over the first domino. An actor without an agent gets upset when someone in his or her class finds representation. Then that someone falls into a funk because one of the agent's other clients books a series. And then the client on the series becomes suicidal when another cast member lands a role in the new Tarantino movie. Trust me. It never ends. So make your choices, live your life, and stop worrying about everyone else.

Stop Being Afraid

You've chosen a difficult profession, one in which talent doesn't guarantee success. This reality tends to sink in as the years drift by, and you start wondering if you'll ever be able to feed yourself with the earnings from your acting work. That's the point when fear starts to eat away at your gut. Please believe me when I tell you that there's nothing to be gained by being afraid. Every single one of us has an inner light. If you trust it, that light will guide you out of the darkness.

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