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'm sure I don't need to tell you that Mad Men is back — the news is pretty much everywhere these days. I, for one, am beyond excited; the last two Draper-less years have amounted to what I like to call "The Dark Ages" (saved from total ruin by one of my new favs — Homeland — and reruns of one of my olds favs — The West Wing). But even if you're not a fan of the show, there are a lot of wonderful career lessons that you can take from it and apply to your career in the arts. Don't believe me? Then stick around as we look at 5 Career Lessons From Mad Men.
Have you ever wanted something so badly but couldn’t envision yourself getting it? Maybe you want to produce your own comedy web-series, or play the Greek Theatre in LA, or have your novel published; whatever it is, sometimes we can imagine these things in the abstract, but when pressed to consider the reality, the vision is hazy at best. If this sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone — I encounter this “syndrome” all the time when coaching, and there’s a very simple antidote to it. It’s called “Assuming Success.” Assuming success is exactly what it sounds like: believing deep down that you will accomplish what it is that you set out to do. Period. I know, I know, right now you’re probably thinking, “Uh, Betsy. That’s it? There must be something you’re forgetting, right?” Well, my friends, that IS all there is to it, but the simplicity of it can be a little deceiving. Otherwise, we’d all be assuming success and wouldn’t have to talk about it.
On a recent coaching call, one of my clients said, “I just spend so much time waiting in this business — it’s exhausting!” and the sentiment really resonated with me. In her case, she was at an industry meet-and-greet and she waited about two hours, watching other actors get up and do their sides, before it was her turn to perform for the casting director, after which she went home and waited even longerthe following day to find out if she got an audition. She said to me, “I’m getting so tired of waiting around to be seen.” It got me thinking: if every actor reading this listed in the comments how many hours they’ve spent waiting (on set, in line at auditions, after a meeting for the phone to ring, for that casting director, agent, manager, producer, writer, etc., to choose them…you get the idea), I’ll bet it would make your eyes pop out of your head Looney Tunes style.
If I were to ask you to define YOUR business, what's the first thing that comes to mind? I’m sure that many of you would immediately think about your craft and, as artists, it’s probably a natural instinct to go there. So, your craft is your business, right? Well...not exactly. See, as an artist, you obviously couldn’t have a business without your craft — your business exists because of it. And, making sure that your craft is in top form is definitely imperative to running a successful business. But it can be too easy to get so wrapped up in your craft that you forget about the business side of your career all together!