Tag Archives: Inspiration

The Power of Failure

“You will fail. That’s great. Here’s a secret for you – that’s the only way you can learn. Learning has to cost you something.” -Stella Adler

In life, losing is part of growing. For organs to form during embryonic development, some cells must commit suicide. Without such programmed cell death, we would all be born with webbed feet like ducks.

Overcoming Success catch-22

In the novel Catch-22, a fighter pilot decides he no longer wants to continue flying combat missions. He realizes there is a high possibility that he can lose his life if he continues and so he decides that he has flown enough missions.

So he then goes on to talk to the military doctor and requests to be grounded. The doctor explains that he cannot ground him based on his physical health. The pilot then claims to be crazy so that he can be grounded for psychological reasons. Still, the doctor doesn’t buy it from the pilot or the other bomber crew members who all agree that the pilot is crazy.

The doctor calls this catch-22: The pilot isn’t crazy, he’s asking to be grounded, which is a rational self-preserving desire; however, he considers the other crew members crazy because they don’t ask to be grounded (an irrational life-threatening choice).

This paradox is a similar hurdle for anyone who wants to become really successful: the more people want to succeed, the more they try to avoid the very kind of experiences that will bring about the learning that is needed to be a long-term success.

NASA

NASA has used significant failure as an important qualification for selecting new recruits. When they were looking for potential candidates for the Apollo 11 lunar mission, they invited resumes from the American people. They first weeded out applicants based on academic qualifications but they still had several thousand candidates.

The next step was interesting. They weeded out all candidates who had not bounced back from a significant failure at some time in their life. The apparent premise was that a person who had failed and then gotten up again was a stronger contender then one who had never experienced failure.

The butterfly’s struggle

A man was watching a butterfly struggling to break out of its cocoon. After making some progress to work its way through a small hole, the butterfly appeared to simply stop its efforts. For some time it seemed to make no progress, so the man concluded it was stuck and decided to help it by forming a larger opening in the cocoon with scissors. Afterward the butterfly emerged easily but with small, shriveled wings and a swollen body.

It turns out that the struggle to emerge from the cocoon would have forced the fluid from the butterfly’s body into its wings, a necessary process for enabling it to fly. As a result of the man’s well-intentioned help, he had interfered with nature’s life-strengthening process. The butterfly was now doomed to never fly, but to crawl around with its swollen body and shriveled wing for the rest of its life.

We need failures in life to provide us with the opportunities to wrestle with the kind of challenge that can squeeze the life-giving fluid we need to strengthen our wings for successful flight in life.

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Break Free at Untemplater.com

Last year, a couple of talented Gen Y’s leaders in their own respects, came together to create a great new site, Untemplater.com.

To me, Untemplater is all about breaking free of the coventions that social conditioning pushes us towards and living a life of your design. Or as Untemplater’s tagline reads: Work Where You Want……Live How You Want……Be Who You Want to Be!

Untemplater launched in January to great response.

It’s a site that resonates with my own mindset and mission to inspire others to see their own best and dreams manifest. So naturally I reached out to them to and submitted a post for the site. You can read my post about breaking destructive and bad habits here.

Untemplater is always looking for writers. If you feel you vibe with their message, or any of the other topics they cover- which is very expansive-and have some quality content to share, you can submit to their content manager, the owl, here. It’s a multi-author site so your perspective would fit right in with the variety.

The Pursuit of Security

“How do I go about following my dreams and making money? I’d be struggling like the rest of them! Entrepreneurs, actors, artists-they’re broke, they’re all broke and struggling!”

That’s the common argument I hear about the journey of following your passion. I’m struggling, it’s true, but it’s not always a struggle. My struggle is more because of the path that I chose-more about the way I wanted to achieve a certain result than just achieving that result- and other choices I made.  But I think you can’t afford not to in this day and time.

The other one I hear is that I’ve got kids and a family. Fair enough. But you’ve still got some time. Those other 8 hours make all the difference.

I like how Carlos Miceli put it : job security is not a goal to strive for. If anything, it’s an old mind- state. But it’s not only the search for job security, I see this search for security in other areas of life as well: relationships, health, education, etc.

I use to strive for it as well, only to be hit on the head too many times by random events that beat these realizations into my head.

Hell, we as Americans love security so much that we’ve practically given away most of our freedoms for it.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.-Ben Franklin

I just had a talk about it with my sister the other day. She was telling me how she wants a peaceful relationship. She wants a relationship where she won’t have to be arguing and if there is an argument, then it’ll be over soon, and if it isn’t over soon, then they’ll have to go their separate ways.  She then went on to tell me why. Because our upbringing was so harsh, tough and filled with drama, which is pretty much everyone’s story.

So I pray everyday more than anything

friends we’ll stay as we begin to lay
this foundation for a family – love ain’t simple
Why can’t it be anything worth having you work at annually.     Common-The Light

I like that last line. It applies to pretty much everything. The work never ends. You don’t reach a state of health that you never have to keep up, or a state where you’ll never have to learn anything again.

I think that by being human, or anything consisting energy for that matter, has this intrinsic desire to express itself, to just be used and manifest its potential.

Acceptance

The thing is, there is always going to be work to do. Embrace it, accept it. That should be an even bigger imperative for you to do what you love.

Look, Jay-z, arguably one of the biggest artists in the world can’t even rest! After coming back from his semi-retirement to release his Kingdom Come album, he was more introspective, feeling he wanted to rap on a different note about different subjects that fans weren’t used to hearing from Jay-z. As a result, well, fans were beginning to doubt the man’s skill.

Ya’ll niggas got me really confused out there
I make “Big Pimpin” or “Give It 2 Me”, one of those…
Ya’ll hail me as the greatest writer of the 21st Century
I make some thought-provoking shit
Ya’ll question whether he falling off…   “Ignorant Shit”-Jay-z

My San Soo instructor, even at 71- or is he 72- is still up and training everyday! He has the respect of his peers and countless others, hasn’t been attacked, he’s confident in his abilities and makes enough money, but he’s still training!

So why not keep growing? Why do we seek to stop growing, to stop learning, adapting?

Internal vs. External

Steve Pavlina also brought up some great points on security. He brings up this critical difference in the way people view security

The reason isn’t that some people need security more than others. I think everyone needs to feel secure. The difference, however, is that the entrepreneurial-minded define security internally while others define security externally….the entrepreneurial action-takers define security internally. Security comes from trusting in yourself — in your ability to think and to take action. As long as you have the ability to think and take action, you’re secure. Given this mindset you could be homeless and still feel secure. Why? Because you still have the ability to think and act — your homelessness is only a temporary setback. It’s not a threat to your security. So even while you may be in a financially unstable situation, external circumstances don’t threaten your security. Your security is guaranteed. It cannot be turned off by external events….

Given this mindset, you can always have security. It’s just more of an internal state of being. I think Stephen Covey called it being “principle-centered.”

Want to be emotionally secure? Love yourself. Be at peace with yourself by coming up with your own standards, morals and expectations and living by them

Want to be mentally secure? Grow, learn, all the time. Be aware, adapt, observe.

Sharpen Your Acting: The Habits of an Actor

I made the jump earlier this year to follow my passion of acting head on. I had no idea what I was going to do or how I was to go about doing it, I just started moving. I eventually started researching the best schools in my area and came upon Stella Adler Los Angeles.

I made the move and got enrolled. The class was great. The only thing was, I only had enough money for one class.

Use Your Time Wisely

I came upon my first setback. I planned to only take one quarter off and find a better paying job (or an additional one) to help me pay for the rest of the classes I planned on taking. The job that I thought I had lined up didn’t come through like I had hoped and I felt stuck. I knew I had to do something to keep my skills sharp while outside of school. So I emailed my teacher and told him about my current situation. He then sent me a list of creative habits and books to read while I was away.

Why Doesn’t an Actor Act?

We pay all that money for training and acting school, and after we feel confident enough we go searching for work.Alan Nusbaum asked on his blog, “if a painter paints, how come an actor does not act?”It’s a great question because as actors sometimes we tend to forget all about the theater and student films and go straight to Hollywood for the paid gigs.

Here is the list of creative habits my teacher gave me to keep my craft sharp

1. Work time- find yourself a time to work that you protect. Know when you work best and take advantage of that time. Structure your day around that fact.

2. Pianists/ Musicians- They always accept the fact that for them to be better they must do their scale work . They must practice. Dancers are the same way. What are the scales for an actor?

  • Practice Script breakdown- get a play and break it down into its beats, units, etc.  See how fully you understand it. What is the plot? What’s the theme? Setting? Idea?
  • Practice cold reading- If you plan on becoming an actor, this skill is an important part of the audition. Grab a monologue and practice.
  • Poetry- My teacher had us doing poems. He would have us see the images before we would speak. I learned that in order to move an audience with the poem, I had to be moved myself. If it meant nothing to me, it wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else. So it forced me to start taking time to connect with things in real life. Just to be present and allow myself to become affected by things I come across. Different images and what not. Poetry is a deep form of self-expression and can better you as an actor.
  • Shakespeare-need I say more?
  • Reading history, philosophy, literature, political theory, religious texts, psychology, and studying other cultures. Acting is all about connecting with the text and bringing the life behind that text to life. What better to study than life and people itself. Not only your own but that of others as well.
  • Visiting art galleries and museums. Museums carry things of significance. Things relative to points in time, a peoples’ history and items pertaining to a their culture. Art has a way of carrying a peoples’ culture and history. It can represent their times  and evoke feelings.
  • Observation/ People watching. It’s the heart of our work and all art. Learn to see, putting yourself into the shoes of others.
  • Writing-anything. Journal, poetry, plays, screenplays, film. Get to know yourself.
  • Anything that can give you focus
  • Watching great work of both theater and film. Learn from your fellow actors

3. Take care of your body and voice- practice physical work and voice work everyday. Our body is our instrument.

4. Doing theater- It’s our place.

In addition, he gave me these words of advice:

Acting is a lifetime committment to learning

Discover what moves you, what do you want to fight for or express

If you are not learning you are standing still

Set goals for the parts you want to play

Talent

“You come from different parts of society, from different neighborhoods. The thing that leads you here, at this moment, is that you have talent. Take my word for it. The thing that makes you say, “I want to do something”-that is the beginning of talent.”

-Stella Adler

Feeling Hopeless?

Lately I’ve been striving to build up my cold reading skills. Cold reading is one of the most dreadful aspects of acting. Sure if you hand us a script in advance, we can do wonders, but handing us one that we’ve never seen before? With only moments to scan it over? That’s a whole ‘nother ball game.

My technique teacher would always tell us to practice our cold reading. Practice,practice, practice. But when I would go to practice I wasn’t sure how to measure my growth or performance, and I found that I wasn’t sure as to how to do it. I looked through many different blogs and articles that only seemed to touch at the surface and most obvious. I even called up Acting with Skylar but didn’t receive much help. Do I try to memorize? Should I be looking at the script? What exactly are the auditors looking for?

 I didn’t take an audition class, so I figured the next best thing was to find a book on the subject. So I went to Borders scanned the drama section and found Audition. This is a GREAT book! I’ve just got it and haven’t put it down yet. It’s so informative and breaks down everything you need to know about readings.

This books value is timeless in that it’s not only a very useful-mandatory even- guide for actors, but even more for people in general. There are numerous musings in the book that can be applied to various areas in life but I found one piece in particular that made a great point. In the prologue, the author writes in the second to final paragraph:

Human beings, fortunately, don’t operate out of reason(for if they did, no one would become an actor). What motivates human beings are their dreams. Dreams of love, dreams of fulfillment, dreams of success, dreams of beauty and power. It’s what we wish would happen that makes us do everything we do.

How true is that?

We all know that tomorrow is never promised and that we can die at any moment.We also know that the only time we have is now, the present.Yet, most our actions are based on what we wish would happen, what we expect to happen, dreams, what we hope for. It’s what the future is made of.

During the cold war people were hopeless. They avoided having children, starting businesses, buying homes and even going to college because of the possibility of a full-fledged war breaking out.

But the war never happened. They gave into hopelessness

At times, when I’m in  a stressful position it’s usually because I’m resisting what I expect to happen instead of accepting the possibility. Yet, if you remember that you’ve got to have hope you can’t go wrong. You can’t be hopeless. Even as an actor, or someone being recently laid off due to the recession, you’ve gotta have hope.