Building Patience for a Creative Career

This week has been peppered with sessions in which I've gotten to jam with my absolute favorite coaching clients. The patient ones.

(Now you know better than to think I *actually* play favorites. Besides, I've already revealed in this post at the SMFA Facebook group exactly who my favorite really is!)

But what I find particularly inspiring about working with coaching clients who are not in any kind of rush is that they're not in any kind of rush.

They're aware that we've got decades stretched out ahead of us. They're aware that no one is retiring tomorrow. They're aware that their source of joy is not bookings or drive-on passes at studio lots or even their name in lights but instead the very act of creation in which they engage at every audition, every acting class, every impromptu craft workout.

Of course, these are the clients who huddle with me to prep for network tests with the suits, meetings at Gersh, pitch sessions for their latest scripted series.

So, you may say, "Duh, Bons. No wonder they're patient! They're living the dream! I'm over here frustrated to be in a post-workshop culture, hearing rumors that Taft-Hartleys are a thing of the past, getting zero traction off a scene I paid $1K for a company to produce for me! *I* have actual problems!! I have no tiiiiiiiiime to be patient!"

Cool.

Breathe, please.

Because I can assure you — just like when you have no time to meditate for 10 minutes, the cure is to meditate for 20 — that patience for this whole crazy business, its twists and turns, the unpredictability and sometimes illogical total predictability comes first.

And then flow in the bookings, the drive-ons, the name-in-lights.

Precisely because you've built the muscle for enjoying the whole damn thing for exactly what it is, you find yourself happening into all those things that eluded you before.

Let's be clear: Patience is a muscle. And if you feel impatient, it's only because you have a stronger muscle for impatience than patience.

And like all weak muscles, you can choose to do exercises to strengthen the ones you'd like to see support your goals more. All the while letting overdeveloped Popeye-sized muscles that don't really serve you atrophy.

Y'all know I love the Balanced app (I believe a good Android option is called Any.do — I shared a bunch about these and a few other change-creating systems in this PDF you can download even if you're not joining us for the program for which this PDF was created) and I actually have an item in my Balanced app called "Be Patient." It's set for twice a day. The app tells me I have a score of 100% on this. That is a practiced muscle for patience (and I totally just used my patience muscle while writing this because I got an email from someone asking for something I had ALREADY SENT RIGHT THERE IN THE EMAIL TO WHICH SHE HAD REPLIED — OMG, do you *see* my patience?!? LOL Hey, I didn't say all 100% of my patience practice was grace-filled to the brim, all right?).

*ahem*

Anyway. 😉 Point is, we can build a muscle for ANYTHING in this life and I'd love to see you choose one to build over the next few days, weeks, months… however long it takes!

Me? I'm building the muscle for decluttering. I did a "ten years from now" journal entry at the spiritual business retreat I attended last month and I said to the facilitator, "Yeah, but whenever I do these exercises (I was 23 the first time I did this, using the amazing book Wishcraft as a guide), I'm somehow writing from the POV of a future me who has a clutter-free life and, well… I HAVE CLUTTER!" She said, "Do you have to?" I said, "Well… I always do!" To which she responded, "Right. But do you HAVE to?"

And OMG, it's like something unlocked in me and I cannot walk through a room in my home without 10 things ending up in the trash, the giveaway box, or the recycling bin. It's getting hilarious because every time I do this, my muscle gets stronger 'til I'm opening drawers and closets and not just clearing out clutter in the common spaces but creating flow in the nooks and crannies!

There's still a LOT to do, mind you! But I am having a blast witnessing this muscle getting stronger. And it's one I have had 46 years of practice believing it was a weak one. It was, of course, because I wasn't using it. I would start decluttering, get overwhelmed, then stop.

But now that I have a new relationship with overwhelm, I just keep chipping away. I just keep building the muscle for decluttering. And lo and behold, I just keep finding more joy along the way. And isn't a more joy-filled journey the point?

So back to you and your patience (or whatever muscle you've decided to work to develop this next little bit of time with me, all in the name of bringing more bliss to your creative pursuit on the daily)… can you commit to building a muscle? At the very least commit to letting an overdeveloped muscle that's not serving you take a dang break for a while?

SMFA All-Access members? I'll be asking you how you're doing with this on our monthly group coaching call Sunday! (Not a member but want to be, to get this ongoing mentorship including four one-on-one coaching calls per year? Start here!)

I think I'm so turned on by this topic I'd like to do a Facebook Live with y'all about it on Monday at 2:30pm PDT. Let's dig in about practical steps to building patience while also getting a shit-ton DONE toward your next-tier goals!

[REPLAY: Actors and Patience: Bonnie Gillespie’s Self-Management for Actors]

Cut right to about the 10-and-a-half-minute mark and watch for FOUR minutes if you want the TL;DW-for-long version.

And here's the TL;DR version on how we build the muscle for patience.

  • be present, now
  • recognize we feel anxiety because we want something out in the future that we don't control bringing into reality
  • understand that we want that thing because we believe we'll be happier when we have it
  • realize the folly that is tethering our future happiness to some result we don't control
  • rather than giving away all that power (letting our happiness be in the hands of outside forces entirely) while feeling anxiety (for wanting a thing we don't control bringing into reality), lean into the feeling of happiness now (since that's the presumed emotion behind the desired outcome, after all)
  • use our storytelling gifts (the ones that allow us to make emotions that don't exist feel so real for ourselves that they feel real for our audience members) to make this happiness real for ourselves right now
  • feel the patience muscle get stronger and stronger, since the desired happiness has been achieved without the result even being a factor

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Yep.

Just like that.

Voilà! Your recipe for building the muscle for patience.

And since all muscles get stronger the more we practice using them, I hope you'll put a patience workout into your daily practices, because getting down with this puts sooooooo much more ease into your creative pursuit.

Totally within our control EASE? In this crazy pursuit, with all its ups and downs?

Yes, please.

I want this for you. Because it really works!

Hey, did you know that you can find out about these cool, fun, free events I do right over here on my badass EVENTS calendar? In fact, Thirsty Third Thursday is coming up, according to that very EVENTS calendar! LA ninjas, I hope to see you out for rocking some karaoke goodness, catching up with one another, or even meeting for the first time! It's such a great way to celebrate our collective badassery!

Before I wrap up, here's a quick invitation to check out Joui Turandot's podcast Leading with Style. I had a blast being interviewed by the lovely Joui and I know you'll get a lot out of the time she and I shared! While not aimed specifically at actors, her podcast is about how we show up in the world — including how we dress of course — and how we LEAD. And y'all know we're all leaders by virtue of the fact that we've chosen this elite field of show business as our playground! Few have the courage to do what we do. We're so damn lucky!

Stay mindful of that, wouldja?

We've got lots of storytelling magic to make in the world.

Let's DO this!

'til next time,


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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