After 12+ years of running my business, it’s clear that when more than three people email me the same article within a 24-hour period, I'm most likely going to be inspired to blog about it and share it with my audience as quickly as possible. That was just the case this past weekend when a number of people forwarded me a piece from the New York Times by actress America Ferrera, where she recounts her long struggle with her Inner Critic. The moment I read it, I knew I had to share it immediately!
Let's just start with the obvious: It's been a tumultuous week. Over the past six months (at the very least), the tension surrounding the presidential election grew increasingly worse on a daily basis until it seemed as if it had reached an untenable peak last Tuesday. Shockingly, things only got worse from there.
Confession: This election wrecked me. I felt as if the foundation of all my ideals as an American, a woman, and a mother came under assault in ways that I'd never imagined. In the aftermath, I've felt deep sadness, frustration, anger, and fear (particularly when it comes to thinking of the results in the context of my 4-year-old daughter, Zoe). Regardless of which side of the coin you fall on, the general mood of the country seems to be one of confusion regarding our future.
Not so long ago, a client of mine had seen a TED Talk by a writer and career coach named Emilie Wapnick and compelled me to check it out because it was so connected to what we do at Capes Coaching. Whenever I get this kind of recommendation, I always put it on my Action List, knowing that I'll eventually get to it...usually. But, then a curious thing happened — another client suggested the same thing. And then another client. And another. It was like one of those situations where friends of yours keep telling you that you HAVE to meet some other friend of theirs because everyone thinks that the two of you would really hit it off. So, of course, I watched Emilie's Wapnick's TED Talk...and I got what all the fuss was about.
"All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no's become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES."
Stephen Colbert officially took over CBS' The Late Show last night, and there was a lot riding on this transition. Stepping into those very big shoes previously filled by the legendary David Letterman — one of the most influential comedians and television personalities of the last thirty years — would be an absolutely frightening endeavor for anyone, no matter how talented. On top of that, Colbert has been very successful at playing Stephen Colbert the character for nearly a decade, and he has to prove to the world that Stephen Colbert the person is not a one-trick pony. It's enough to induce a serious case of stage fright.
As many of you know, our motto at Capes Coaching is “Talent Is Only Half The Equation.” What you probably don’t know is that it was originally “Talent Is Only Half The Equation; The Other Half Is A Crapshoot.”
Okay, not really. But, there’s something in that idea that’s worth exploring — the comparison between success in the arts and winning a game of craps. After all, as much fun as it may be, playing craps is ultimately a gamble. And so is the pursuit of a career in the arts. This is probably why so many parents tend to discourage their kids from that pursuit; they know that there’s nothing stable about this type of career. An artist is, in essence, a freelancer, and a freelancer is defined as a self-employed person hired to do specific assignments rather than being permanently employed by one company. Basically, there’s no guarantee of work or a paycheck, and that will always be the case for as long as you’re in this business.
Okay, let’s be honest. Have you ever compared yourself to someone else and felt that you ended up on the short end of the stick? You know, you look at someone else’s career or resume and think, “Oh, man…I’ll never get there,” or, “I feel like a failure.” Especially in the arts, where success is often measured in different ways, it can be difficult not to look at what everyone else is doing to see where you stand. This is particularly true when you feel like you’re in a bit of slump and it seems like everyone is working but you. Unfortunately, this seemingly innocent inquiry often leads to what is commonly called “Compare and Despair Syndrome.”
I hope everyone had a fun Halloween and didn’t suffer too badly from sugar hangover! More importantly, I hope you were able to take a moment and unmask some of those inner critics lurking around. I know that this is often easier said than done. I got a lot of emails from people who felt a sense of relief that they finally had a language to use when dealing with this issue, but were also looking for some extra tools to help them identify when their inner critics were trying to butt in. Well, as promised in the last post, I’ve got just the thing: Inner Critic Profiles. The idea behind inner critic profiles is to get a deep understanding of who your inner critics are, what kind of agendas they have, and how they operate. By getting to know your inner critics inside/out, you’ll be better able to identify when they’re around, which will ultimately help you to make sure that they don’t take control of your career.
Halloween is here (though you’d have thought it was closer to Christmas with all the snow we got on the east coast this weekend!), and that means it’s time to get out the wigs, the masks, the Capes (ha!), and the plastic teeth. That’s right, time to put on those costumes, pretend you’re someone else for the night, and…bob for apples? Do people still do that? Anyway, the great thing about Halloween is that the scares are all in fun – we know the people behind the masks and can take comfort in the fact that the overzealous zombie that’s been making a nuisance of itself all night long will once again become our best friend tomorrow morning.