Are You Only Half-Invested in Your Success?

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A frog sits on a lily pad in the middle of a pond. Wanting to reach the shore, he jumps exactly halfway, landing on another lily pad. He then jumps half of that remaining distance. Then half again, and so on.

How many times must he jump before he gets where he's going?

You might say two. Or five. Or “It depends on the length of the frog’s legs relative to the distance he has to travel overall.” Either way, you’d be wrong. Since the frog is never jumping the full distance, he could jump an infinite number of times and still never make it to the shore because he's always jumping only half the distance required to reach his goal.

Does this frog's plight sound like the acting career of anyone you know?

If you feel like you are pouring all your time, money and energy into classes, workshops, headshot sessions, demo reels and seminars, but aren't really getting to where you want to be, you may be doing them all in half measures.

When you attend classes, do you dedicate yourself to every exercise 100 percent, or do you wait to get up third (or worse, last) and hope the night isn't too taxing? Do you attend networking events and industry nights legitimately seeking to find out about the people you’re meeting, or are you constantly looking over the person's shoulder for someone more important/attractive/interesting/famous? When it comes to taking headshots and creating demo reels, do you save up for the highest quality of each or do you take the cheapest option whenever it's available?

Quite the opposite of having a productive effect in your life, every half step you take towards your goal is destructive, because it fools you into believing that you've really done something to progress your talent and career when, in reality, you haven't. You've simply squandered another opportunity.

Imagine taking a shower and washing only half your body. The other half of you would still stink. Imagine wearing half a suit to a wedding: jeans and a bow tie. You might as well just arrive wearing a rainbow-colored tutu. At least that would seem like a bold statement of joy and celebration. To half commit to a course, a class, or even a simple exercise in this very exact moment is to assure that you feel like you’re getting somewhere when you really aren’t. Commit fully, or admit that you know you will never get to where you want to be.

There’s fear though, of course. The fear that if you fully commit and fail, then people might say that “even your best was not enough.” But you know what? Screw them. Guess who’ll desert you when you fail? Those people. Guess who’ll come complimenting you when you succeed? Those people. The people whose opinions you should pay any attention to are those who are there for you even when you fail. And that should be as often as possible. Those are the people you will thank at the awards ceremony. The rest aren’t even in the same pond.

Anything less than 100 percent in anything you do is a waste of time. Like the frog on the lily pad imagining he will eventually reach his goal, you could literally be jumping forever.

Ready to jump the whole way? Check out our theater audition listings! And with your newfound commitment, do something you don't normally do—like take one of the dance classes suggested in the video below?

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Paul Barry
Paul Barry is an L.A.-based Australian acting teacher, author of “Choices,” and a Backstage Expert. Barry runs on-camera classes in Santa Monica as well as online worldwide and conducts a six-week program called Dreaming for a Living, coaching actors, writers, and filmmakers in how to generate online incomes to support their art.