Most auditions are over for the time being – we are back from the Holidays and this period of time can often culminate in either becoming critical and down on ourselves for all the mistakes, failures and lost opportunities we incurred over the past year or it can become the time for constructive introspection as we learn the varied lessons these situations have presented to us. Everyone, including the very most successful person in any profession, is guaranteed to experience mistakes, failures and lost opportunities throughout their lives. Unlike most of us, they naturally see and use them as tools to make the necessary adjustments and changes as they plan for, and move towards their future. They learn something new and interesting about themselves and how to do business and put that into practice rather than spend time beating themselves up about what they didn’t do in the past.
So sometimes life does throw you a curveball, hands you a lemon, or knocks you for a loop. Failure and mistakes are a big part of everyday, normal life. Knowing how to approach and benefit from words like failure and mistakes is a skill that everyone and anyone can learn.
Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, Ph.D, has studied how people handle failure for 40 years and her research has led her to identify two distinct mind-sets that dramatically influence how we react to it. She calls them Fixed Mind-Set and Growth Mind-Set. Let’s explore that further.
Dr. Dweck says it is a fixed mind-set that believes, for example, that talent is genetic – you’re a born artist, great with numbers, physically coordinated, great at sports, etc. This fixed mind set believes it’s entitled to success without much effort and regards failure as a personal affront. When things get tough, it’s quick to blame, withdraw, lie, and even avoid future challenge or risk.
Conversely, a growth mind-set assumes that no talent is entirely heaven-sent and that effort and learning make everything possible. Because the ego isn’t on the line as much, the growth mind-set sees failure as opportunity rather than insult. When challenged, it’s quick to reassess, adjust, and try again. In fact, it relishes this process. And we are all born with growth mind-sets. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to survive in the world.
“You know, Charlie, life is like a deck chair. Some people place their chair so they can see where they’re going. Some turn it around to see where they’ve been. Others, Charlie, place their chair right in the middle of the action to see what’s going on all around them” Charlie sighs and says, “I’m just trying to get mine unfolded.” – Charles M. Schulz
Another idea to consider is that after having had a busy audition and performance season, plus the excitement of visiting friends and family for the Holidays, there is a bit of a let down after the New Year arrives and that busy schedule has subsided as we get back to our every day lives. This can often be the time when we start that negative inner self talk that I call the “Brat”, that is not especially productive. It becomes kind of a “should of, would of, could of” time as we look back at what was and wasn’t accomplished. This is fodder for the “Brat”, his/her opportunity to beat us up a little about our failings, failures and mistakes by showing us an imaginary score board from our past.
This is when the “Brat” can become an out and out bully. Bullying behavior is intentional and aimed at gaining control over you. This becomes a form of aggression, intimidation, and harassment and makes you the victim. You become both passive and insecure or you want to fight back in ways that are not healthy like overeating or inappropriate behavior. Does this sound familiar? The “Brat”, if we allow it, controls with lies and sweet talk, whichever seems appropriate at the moment to keep you hooked. The Brat is interested in its power over you which gives it pleasure and is very manipulative so it get’s what it wants… your undivided attention. We tend to become passive, anxious, and insecure when this type of internal dialogue begins. It’s hard to get out of this unproductive pattern once it gets a solid hold on us.
But, there is help on the way! Remember that all the “Brat” wants is: your undivided attention. When you get in this emotional state, the”Brat” has your attention in spades but for all the wrong reasons. As crazy as it seems, try talking to your “Brat” out loud to see what it really wants and needs from you right now. Maybe it is just a little reassurance that all will be OK or perhaps he/she needs to know that feeling a little down after being on a roll is very normal and if he/she gives you a break, your recovery will happen sooner rather than later.
Don’t permit yourself to reinforce the behavior, when the “Brat”, with its incessant internal dialogue refers to you as a loser, failure or dumb. If you do, the failure you perceive in your mind progresses from an action to an identity. In reality it is only a temporary state of being. When you encounter skepticism by your “Brat” about something you want to do, ask yourself to think of a time when you once had low ability but now excel and the process you went through to get there. It’s important to remember that you are in charge and you need to start the change by thinking more beneficial thoughts. This means remembering times when you were successful at anything. Know how good success feels and carry that forward as you tackle some of these unwanted reactions and feelings the “Brat” has provoked.
“It’s the final steps of a journey that create an arrival.” – Sam Parker
What defines job satisfaction for you? Is it that you are still learning something and that encourages and challenges you to be the best you can be? If that is true, then challenge yourself by learning something new every day. Here’s another thought, blame never resolves anything. It’s just the fixed mindset insisting that you are right. The whole point is to encourage your own development. You are always a work in progress, every changing, ever growing, never done. How boring life would be if we didn’t experience challenges. Every time you complete any learning experience especially if it is one you are hesitant to do, it makes you feel accomplished and raises your self-esteem. You have taken action, you are in charge.
Here’s another way to get your juices flowing. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating; get back to your daily productive routine. When you get in a funk, you sometimes forget that you have a routine. Getting back to it simply requires first remembering that you have one, and then taking your power back to make it happen. Taking that kind of action in and of itself will reawaken and strengthen your desire to move forward and do business.
“Never confuse motion with action.” – Benjamin Franklin
Don’t overload your plate because you feel the Holidays somehow put you behind schedule. Take the time to sort through your ideas and build a short term plan. I personally am best with having some idea of what the overall goal is and then working on it in small chunks a month at a time. If I go further out in time than that, I get lost in the minutiae and lose my way. Once I accomplish what I put forth for that month, I can clearly see what the next steps might be for the following month and start on that process. Just like being on a journey, I might notice a side road that looks promising and follow that until I can ascertain if it is worth pursuing or time to go back to the original plan. This kind of thinking allows me to remain flexible and curious which in turn motivates me to keep searching for the path that works just for me on my own timetable.
And don’t forget to include Vitamin D in your daily routine. Science tells us that our bodies in the winter months need 4,000 to 5,000 units of vitamin D to compensate for the shorter daylight hours and often lack of sunshine because of cloudy days. Among the plethora of things it is good for, it helps alleviate depression, and it helps to elevate your immune system.
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
So, wake up, learn what you need from the past, take your power back, and get moving toward your goals. All you ever have to work with is this present moment so don’t waste them by looking at what is already past. Jump in, grab the reins, and enjoy the journey!
Avanti and Ciao until next time,