Preparing for and pursuing a career as a performer is always a risk. Are you ready as you head off to your summer programs or performances, to deal with the X factor, the unknown smidgens that might make you feel a bit scared and unprepared because this is a new experience? Do you have a plan in place to help you deal with any mistakes or failures that might happen?
There can be the kind of risk that involves research, then preparing as thoroughly as one can knowing that the outcome is something one can’t control, search for the lesson when the experience is over, and apply what you have learned to next situation, relationship, audition, or performance. Or instead you can turn risk into some kind of self imposed sabotage by creating failure and excuses because you are even more fearful of success. You can’t know anything until you have experienced it.
It’s so easy to create such high standards for yourself that you lose your footing and start the self talk that is very harsh, judgmental and most times, doesn’t even make sense. It’s like someone else takes over in there. It is an emotionally expensive state that might persist in staying with you over the course of a few days and color everything else that is happening in your life.
“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” – Dale Carnegie
And there are so many different kinds of perceived mistakes and failures. You sing the wrong notes, can’t master some coloratura cadenza, and can have memory lapses. Often one of the biggest professed failures and mistakes you make is misjudging how much preparation time you will need to truly be prepared. How many of you continue to practice a piece over and over in a mindless manner almost to the point of exhaustion, and then, when auditioning, or performing, realize that you have learned the pronunciation of a word totally wrong, that is repeated over and over. Or perhaps you have not paid enough attention to the exact rhythms the composer put in place to help create the drama of the piece which takes you out of the competition, getting into a summer program or getting that job. How about making a faux pas in communicating with people in our profession by not know what the game is, what the rules of the game are and then most importantly, how the game is played. Mistakes are human, and no one escapes making them. Failure and mistakes, if examined for the lesson therein, are the way we learn everything. If we didn’t fail and make mistakes we would never learn anything. We would instead continue to practice these failures and mistakes over and over again wondering why nothing was changing.
Take the time to think back to some experience you have had in the past, maybe even as a child, some small failure or mistake. Notice that you probably don’t make that same mistake or continue to fail at the same thing anymore because you didn’t like the outcome, so you changed what you did and how you did it. We don’t stop making mistakes and failing just because we are grown- ups.
“Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.” – Zig Ziglar
What makes you experience these chaotic, grumpy, way out of proportion, over the top emotional states when you do make a mistake or fail at something; these guilty, and embarrassing feelings? It’s because you care about how you participate in society as a performer and as a human being. You want to give your best, and to have a rewarding experience onstage and in your life.
Choice is key here. You can continue choosing to unconsciously self sabotage by doing what you have always done, getting the same outcome you have always gotten, or you can consciously choose to pay attention to that inner self talk and start changing the dialogue. This will give you the opportunity to start looking for the lesson within the failure or mistake, taking what you have learned and applying it to what comes next so the outcome will be different. It means you have to stay alert, awake and make conscious choices about how you do what you do on purpose. Start with this one small step!
“The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it: so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it.” – Elbert Hubbard
Knowing now that everyone fails and makes mistakes, hopefully, will help you be a bit more compassionate with yourself. Your goal and desire is to do well, have fun, learn as much as you can about everything, know failure will happen and you can now choose to use it as another tool to learn something. Your job is to fulfill your potential one step at a time so, stop every once in a while, breath, then consciously appreciate your uniqueness, your authenticity, your talent, your bravery and courage as you move through each day. And notice how your passion, strength and confidence radiate and transform your model of your world. You become fierce!