We live in a society where instant gratification has become the norm. Everyone is wishing for his or her lucky break, a helping hand or a less painful way to make to the top. They would prefer to get in through the back door rather than do the actual work because, well, it just takes too gosh darn long.
We’ve all met individuals like this and admittedly, I was one of them.
I remember when my daughter told me she wanted to follow in my footsteps and become an actor. The excitement over the idea had me giddy one minute, then terror the next. Realizing all the work that I needed to put into place was exciting until, I actually had to start doing the work.
Traveling down the road as a showbiz parent is completely different than the road as an adult actor. I’d take my daughter to private acting sessions, while my husband spent countless hours trying to help her break down scripts. We were always fascinated at how she smiled through it, until she wouldn’t land a role she really wanted, and then reality set in.
In the first few dozen auditions she didn’t book, I think was harder on me to watch. I can remember countless times secretly wishing that she would just catch a lucky break. I would wish that the casting directors, who would rave about her, would just call her in for some other role that would be a right fit. Although she never complained, she’s still just a kid. It would make me second-guess my judgment if I should even be letting her do this.
My husband and I would periodically ask her if she was still in love with the process and if she still wanted to pursue the craft knowing the potential struggles ahead. Without missing a beat, she said yes. In that moment, it made me realize that as much as I want to see my child’s dreams come true, I didn’t want it handed to her. I didn’t want her to obtain success the easy way, to get any kind of preferential treatment or handouts.
I wanted her to earn it, so she can appreciate it on a whole different level.
Reality is, nobody wants to see someone get a free pass to the front of the line. If this person hasn’t had the opportunity to appreciate the process or the struggles, how can they fully acknowledge and be humbled by the success that will come their way?
I remember sitting in an acting class with students who wished they could get their money back after four months of training, because they still hadn’t landed that ideal agent or guest star role. They would blame everything and everybody for their lack of success. Maybe it was their poor headshot, bad representation, and lack of money that kept them from progressing. Most just wanted a quick fix or a secret answer on what they needed to do to propel them to the next tier level.
I hated hearing it. Never once did I ever hear anyone share how they were hindering their growth. They only owned their success, but never their failures.
A career in acting is no different than any other business out there. You need a really good product (an actor) people who want buy that product (casting directors, producers) and a unique process that will endure and last (which comes down to your brand, your marketing and what sets you apart from everyone else). Rarely do I ever meet individuals who wake up on Monday, decide to be an actor, and then land a guest star role on Grey’s Anatomy by the end of the week.
Every successful actor and entrepreneur never got a ‘break’; they worked for it.
If you decide to forgo the process of pushing through all the work, time and effort it will take you to become successful, then it will actually make you weak. You won’t have the experience, or understanding on how to endure the success that will come your way.
You may say you are ready, but are you?
I had a friend who opened up a business and everyday she’d wish for more clients. She felt her life would be so much easier if an influx of potential clients came knocking on her door. Then one day it happened. A well-known client shared her info and her business boomed. Sounded great until she realized she couldn’t handle it. She wasn’t ready. She didn’t have any processes in place. She was being forced to operate at a level she personally wasn’t ready for. Not to say she couldn’t do it, but see needed to work her way up to it. From a business standpoint, she just wasn’t ready to operate her business at that level, and it eventually crushed her.
It happens to actors all the time.
I don’t ever want my daughter’s acting career to go that route. What kind of mother would I be to throw her in the trenches unprepared? Not all struggles are bad. It’s teaching her character, to fight for something she wants, it’s helping her grow, mature and fine tune her craft, at her level. There is no doubt in my mind that the doors that are meant to open, will; but not until she is ready. So now, instead of asking for a lucky break, I ask for helpful people to show up in her life. For the right opportunities to show up and for the wisdom to guide her so that she stays happy, humble and safe.
I’ve just come to realize that the prize doesn’t go to the quickest person, or the one who pushes forward ahead, or who manipulates their way to the top. It goes to the one who endures.
Next time you’re struggling seek strength, not a lucky break. Keep pushing, keep enduring and you continue shinning all the way to the top.