As independent filmmakers, and therefore entrepreneurs, we have to set the stage for success mentally before anything good can happen in the material world. It all starts with healthy self-motivation. I grew up listening to Zig Ziglar tapes played endlessly by my father in the car and at home (really, it was all the time). The master of manifesting goals, my dad knew what he was doing. He was also raised with very little support or encouragement in this area, and therefore, REQUIRED HIMSELF to be his first and only advocate. “You were born to win,” says Zig Ziglar, “but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” Self-motivating is hard work, make no mistake, but there is a proven formula for success. Before you pop in that Zig tape, I’ve compiled a step-by-step method of achieving positive mindset:
Step One: CONNECT WITH YOUR DESIRE.
If you can’t feel that desire for what you want, it’s not going to motivate you to move past all the obstacles, challenges, self-doubt, naysaying and other garbage you will encounter on your quest. Think about your goal. And really feel your desire for it. Feel it! Desire is a crazy powerful force that can move mountains when channeled the right way. Think about those apples, bells and keys. When the game starts, move towards them and adapt.
Step Two: PICTURE YOUR GOAL.
LITERALLY. Draw it up. Storyboard it. Write it down. Make a plan. Create a physical representation of that which you desire. DO THIS OFTEN AND A LOT.
Step Three: REMOVE ALL UNNECESSARY NEGATIVITY FROM YOUR SPACE.
Do you have friends that take more energy than they give? Which of your associates create unnecessary drama? Are you surrounded by people who gossip, talk down about others, and whose primary focus of conversation concerns other PEOPLE, not IDEAS? These types of people are not currently plugged into the creative force that you need to be tapping into. Take the time to recognize who adds value to your life, and who takes energy away from it. Cut out Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. Avoid all the ghosts in the game who can suck away your life. You may have some tough choices ahead, but it will serve you in the long run. You can also apply this step to your physical surroundings, and give your home and office a thorough de-cluttering.
Step Four: SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE BEST.
If you want to be the best, you have to be surrounded who are moving in the same direction as you: up. Seek out people who are on a similar mission to level up in their lives, who have dreams they are working towards and FULLY SUPPORT YOU in your quest for yours. Great minds really do think alike, and you’ll find yourself attracting similarly-minded people once you’ve recalibrated your own personal directive. You will need your cheerleaders to give you little boosts along the way, so remember to reciprocate this fundamental human need and cheer others on.
Step Five: FEED YOUR BRAIN WITH POSITIVE THINKING.
We often hear that social media increases depression in people by presenting jealousy, FOMO or other negative psychological inner experiences. Social media is a tool, and you can choose how to wield the tool. I like to use these platforms to increase connectivity and positive thinking. If it makes me feel bad, I make it go away. This is especially useful on Instagram because of the platform’s visual simplicity, but look for motivation-type accounts to follow on whichever platform your mind likes to wander the best. I also follow people in my industry who have achieved something in their career to which I aspire or admire. Use these Power Pellets to give you fuel for the maze.
Here are my top picks for Instagram motivational accounts:
Do yourself a favor and follow these accounts! See if it works for you.
Step Six: SELF LOVE.
Do it. Perform those small rituals which remind you that you are lovable and loved, and that starts by loving yourself. Take good care of your body, mind and heart. Put your hand on your heart: if it’s in pain, say the words and tell your heart it’s loved. People who suffer from deep wounds in this area will struggle tremendously in their life choices, if they are unable to address this core issue. If you were bullied or mistreated as a kid, then tell that child inside of you that they are worthy and loved. She needs to hear it. In the words of the master RuPaul Charles, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” This wisdom applies completely to your success. In order to belief in yourself, you need to love yourself (healthily!), otherwise you are operating from the wrong place entirely, and you may not like how and where you end up.
Step Seven: HAVE A LOT OF HEART.
And a big appetite for success. I love people with authenticity and big hearts, especially in those who have achieved a certain level of achievement in their lives. The BEST is meeting one of your heroes and finding out they are equally awesome as a human being. There is a misconception that a giving nature = weakness, but it’s quite the opposite. It may be criminally undervalued in our society and industry, but it makes a tremendous difference in the types of work environments we encounter, the sets we run, people we influence, relationships we build, lives we lead, and ultimately the type of world we live in. Your motivation for success should ideally come from a place that is authentically you and connected to your heart. It’s not worth wasting your time, working hard to be successful if it’s not an honest representation of who you are as a human being. The most radically successful people in this town have built businesses out of being fearlessly unafraid to be themselves, no matter how hard it was in the beginning. If you don’t fit it, it may mean you are born to stand out. Use that fuel for motivation.
Step Eight: LOVE THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE YOU.
It’s such a gift. Keep on giving it.
Step Nine: SEE REJECTION IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT.
If you are like most people, you will encounter large quantities of rejection on your path to success. This is normal and it means you are doing it right. True failures never find the courage to actually risk rejection, and therefore being vulnerable, so they fail by default. If you’ve built up a solid reserve of confidence, self-love and a connection to your inner purpose and desire, you will have the strength to go after your goals with everything because you don’t require external validation. YOU know your goals are important, and that it’s not a matter of if they become a reality, but when. Still not feeling that supreme confidence yet? Just recall the old adage and know it’s true: fake it ‘til you make it. You may face 1000 rejections, but all it takes is that one acceptance letter, award, new fan or whatever to fan the fire that dims. It’s easy to focus on the bad news, but if you do, just remember the massively successful people who endured incredible rejection first. I think about J.K. Rowlings’ incredibly inspiring story as a broke, struggling single mother and the “loads” of NO’s she received before breaking through to her first YES. My brother-in-law, Frank, once told me that he would wallpaper his apartment as a new grad with rejection letters. They come so frequently when you’re starting out, that it’s better to expect them, not take them personally, and simply see them as part of the game.
Visualize it like a Pac Man game. Most of the game is filled with seemingly endless yellow Pac-Dots. You just have to power through the Pac-Dots to eat the cherries.
Step Ten: BE FEARLESS.
The point of setting up this mindset is to rid your brain of the true enemy: fear. The more negativity you dwell upon, the more self-doubt and fear will accrue. If you deliberately invest in a positive mindset and really do the work to push through your inner obstacles, then you will find more positive things will come into your life as a result. Like attracts like, so choose wisely! Be bold. Be fearless. Go after what you want with singular determination. Nobody else will do this for you. Remember, you only have this life to live, so do it without any regrets. Live a life that will make you look back in delight and astonishment when you are older. Never have a dream or a mission you did not at least attempt to go after. Your gifts, goals, and dreams are given to you for a reason, so be mindful not to squander them out of fear. Rid fear from your heart and mind, and you will find yourself meeting, interacting, and hopefully working with other great talents of your field. I never regretted not going after a dream, because I have always gone after what I want, no matter how it might to others. Don’t worry too much about what others think. Concern yourself more about how you will reflect back on your life when there is no time left to make these dreams a reality. Is there something holding you back from your dreams now, due to fear? Eradicate that fear immediately. Fear is a myth created by the mind to limit its true potential. Choose instead to operate out of love, and you will eventually make your deepest desires and dreams come true.
What secretly motivates your motivation? Remember that the final outcome is a product of the seeds of intent you are planting now.
When I was in graduate school, our MFA class did a role-play exercise. Each person secretly drew a playing card out of a deck, which we were not allowed to reveal. We were supposed to act out our “social role” of the playing card in a pretend Hollywood cocktail party, while a couple fellow students and the teacher observed and tried to guess which card each person had drawn.
Ace was the lowest card level of the social strata, and King was the Highest. I drew a Queen. I interacted in this pantomime party in the way that I saw a true leader and Queen should: she talks to everyone, is engaged, listening, hearing people’s stories, boots on the ground. She cares. She sees value in every person, no matter their position in the deck. When we finished, the people who were guessing immediately knew the King card person. He had acted aloof, stand-offish, and separate from the rest of the crowd. They made their rounds through everyone, mostly accurately, then came to me. “Michelle, it’s funny. We couldn’t tell what card you were. You were either an Ace or a King.” Honestly, I was shocked. The guy at the party acting like a jerk was considered the highest card? Not the way I play.
I immediately knew that the type of system described was inherently not my vision of success, or a successful person or system. I always knew it would take work, but more importantly, it’s about relationships. You need your authenticity by your side, connecting you to others, keeping you grounded, healthy and kind. The greatest talents out there are also the most humble ones. They are motivated by curiosity, learning from other people, and the energy of collaboration.
As you work on self-motivating, remember the type of leader you are building. “What you get by achieving your goals,” said Zig Ziglar, “Is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” You are building an empire right now, whether you see it yet, or not. Be a Queen. Be the Ms. Pacman who plows her way through the maze towards its rewards. Have fun with it. Inspiration is infectious. The more you are motivation and inspired, and then ACT, the more you will inspire others. Believe you will get there. You will.