(Originally published on the web as “The Success Attitude”)
Many of us go to the gym to stay in shape. (Okay, many of you… I sit around like a lump on log. But hey – I’m retired.) Staying in good physical condition is a very good habit and it will keep you healthy.
However, your mental condition is crucial to your dreams of acting success.
Because this is a business that has as its main feature a great deal of rejection (everybody gets rejected, even big stars), it is a good idea to get yourself into peak mental condition.
I call it the success attitude.
So, here’s my 9 step mental conditioning regimen. Practice every day and the inevitable rejection you face will never get the best of you. If you can overcome the rejection … they become the 9 steps to a successful acting career.
1. It’s usually not about you. I know this is hard to get, but believe me, most other people are not thinking about you when they do the things they do – or make the decisions they make. Always keep this in mind when you are on the receiving end of a bummer. Just keep repeating, “It’s not about me, it’s not about me.”
2. Keep your accomplishments in mind. Again, it’s easy to forget what you have done, when faced with something that hasn’t worked out for you. But you must keep a good tally of each forward step, every little victory, and all the small things you get done every day. Don’t forget this golden oldie: “The longest journey begins with the first step.” And every small accomplishment is getting you closer to your goal.
3. You are already a member of the club. You are a human being and like all of the other members of the club, you may sometimes feel as if you have something to prove. You don’t. Other people’s opinion of you will not change your membership status. You cannot be drummed out of the club. You will always be a human being and you don’t have to go out of your way to prove it. So relax.
4. You are not a walrus. No matter what anybody else says, you are not their definition. If other people say things to make you feel less than great, it’s their problem not yours. Wisecracks at your expense are usually just someone else’s attempt to be more than they are by making you less than you are. Ignore them. They will go away. Or you will.
5. Love is the engine of success. Be a loving person, love what you do, love those who love you and don’t forget that anyone who tries to make you hateful is attempting to rob you of your engine. Don’t let them do this. You need this engine to get where you want to go. Love your enemies– it will drive them crazy. Hate your enemies and it will drive you crazy. Don’t get crazy until you have really good health insurance.
6. There is no perfect. Oh, how we try… but it just doesn’t exist. Don’t let your need for the perfect picture, the perfect part, the perfect timing or the perfect opportunity stop you from going forward in a less than perfect way. Going forward is the only way to attain the goal. Waiting for the perfect is a plan to keep waiting forever. I repeat, there is no perfect. Don’t wait. Do it now.
7. What you like is important. You have taste. You are discerning. If you want a coffee table made out of a wagon wheel… go for it. Don’t think that living your life in accord with someone else’s taste will ever work for you. It won’t. The reason this is important is this: Following your own likes and dislikes will help you to be mentally at peace with yourself. Emotionally fit. And trusting your taste will keep you away from doing things that generally will be disastrous to your mental health. Follow your bliss.
8. Nothing ever works the way it is supposed to. It’s like physics or something. What this means is that when things don’t work out for you, (which happens to everyone, all the time) you shouldn’t attach too much importance to the event. In fact, it is the very randomness of our universe that guarantees that bad things will happen from time to time. It is almost always a terrible idea to make big decisions based on one event… so don’t. We all have issues. Deal.
9. Always remember to breathe. You would be surprised at how many bad decisions you will make while holding your breath. A good deep breath can save relationships, save jobs, save you money and keep you alive. It’s this last thing that I attach a lot of importance to. Almost no one succeeds after they are dead.
Okay, some painters… but the dead ones don’t get to spend the money.
As you have, no doubt, already learned from Arnold Schwarzenegger – repetition is the mother of fitness.
Keep repeating these exercises and you will prevail.
Just do it.
By Bob Fraser
(Acting Magazine Contributor, Author/Distributor of YouMustAct CD Rom Technology)