I remember my first bike. My first “real” bike. (I remember my first kid bike too. It was a gorgeous pink Huffy Sweet Thunder with a banana seat.) My first real bike was a ten-speed British touring bike from Sears. All that meant was that it had an extra large seat and a little rack on the back for whatever I would pick up when I went to market as I toured about the countryside. Like you do, when you grow up in… Atlanta. I guess. 😉 Whatever. It was cute. I was happy.

And then I had to learn how to change gears. That was not fun. It was challenging. It was frustrating, because when I would ride my first kid bike, I would just GO. Suddenly, there was going, followed by a gear change, followed by a jolt of slow-down, followed by harder-to-pedal status, eventually followed by… whadda-ya-know… GOING FASTER with less overall effort.

So, the gear-change. It’s not fun at first. It makes no sense. It seems to interrupt the flow that you’ve worked hard to create, right as you’re getting used to that pace. Its jarring impact on HOW you’re pedaling can be disconcerting. And that you — at first — are working harder to make less ground feels like crap.

Same with tier jumps. You’ve gotten a very strong muscle for the hustle at your soon-to-be former tier. You’re rocking those co-star auditions and getting called straight to producers on your target shows more often than you’re even having to preread. It feels GREAT!

You know the time is coming for you to shift gears and say no to co-stars in order to be perceived as an actor at the guest-star tier. You bravely huddle with your agent to decide, yes, this is the time for such a bold move. *CLANG!!!* There goes that gear-change. No bookings. There goes that jarring jolt of momentum coming to an end. It’s all over. Or, so it feels, at first.

Weather that. Keep pedaling. The *last* thing you want to do at that precise moment is stop moving forward because you’re afraid you’ve made it all too hard! Just know, though, that you will be expending more effort for what feels like less progress… for a teeny little bit of time. WEATHER THAT.

And then you’ll pick up the pace again, you’ll get going at your new tier (in your new gear) and then, you guessed it, it’ll be time for another change of gears soon enough. Always stay ready for that eventuality.

Give yourself slack for that. Prepare for that! It’s how you someday FLY without much effort at all.

Keep your perspective sharp, with all of this, too. There will come a time when you feel like you’re not making much progress at all. You’ll feel as though your glory days are behind you, even though your bookings are at a higher tier than a long-ago version of you ever would’ve dreamed you’d reach. This, my friends, is when you’re no longer learning how to change gears, you’re certainly not back at the beginning (y’know, when you had training wheels on your kiddo bike), but instead, you’re shaving precious seconds off your personal best, as an elite racer in one of the most competitive rides of your life.

Baby steps are easier to applaud because they’re easier to see and they happen much more frequently. When you’re in your career’s higher gears, please remember to celebrate how far you’ve come and how fast you’re going. Even when it feels like you’re not getting anywhere.


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


Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001865.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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