Hello my fellow perfectionist. How are you?
I know. You’re “Great!” Because you’d never tell me you’re a little on-edge, low-grade anxious at all times, wondering how long you can get by on so little sleep, and feeling like you need to work harder to fix what’s starting to slip through (although you were so sure you had it all covered).
Get out of my head, voodoo woman!
I know you.
I was you.
So, I mentioned that we went to a couples camp with The Hendricks Institute last month (The Hendricks Institute as in Gay Hendricks as in The Big Leap — a book you may have first seen in my Self-Management for Actors work in 2011 — and all its upper-limit problem goodness). I have quite a few things to share from this long weekend of immersion in all things next-tier. No, I won’t pack ’em all in at once (that would be a perfectionist’s tendency and I already told you, I was you. That’s past-tense. I’m killing off my perfectionist for my 48th birthday. Feel free to hold me to it — today I made great progress. The Hay House rolled out a massive marketing campaign in which the words “sneak peak” appeared together thrice. I said nothing. Even though what they’re describing with that phrase is a creeper of a mountain, not an early look at something. — The mantra I am using: “It is not my life’s work to correct people on the internet.” Woof. This is going to be challenging. Good. That means it’s worth changing).
There’s a beautiful concept that was encapsulated so wonderfully by Katie Hendricks (Gay’s wife) up in Berkeley last month and I’ve been thinking a lot about it as I continue my mind-body work and rehab myself back to an active and fit life after bedrest.
At some point, our ways of BEING became inconvenient for our caregivers. And this is when we learned new ways of DOING, so we could earn their love and attention when our ways of BEING wouldn’t suffice.
This is important for artists and other creatives — the majority of the humans I work with every day — because most of us got into show business not just to tell stories to help heal the world but also because being validated by others is our favorite drug.
And it’s super addictive.
Once we train our brains to enjoy positive attention (applause, good reviews, compliments) those same tracks are used to crush us with negative attention (rejection, bad reviews, haters). Ugh.
I’m going to share with you the trick I use for retraining my brain about this issue. (Yes, I am in the midst of rewiring the neural pathways that led to “The Great Health Mystery of Early 2018” — so I’m getting ridiculously skilled at selecting the highest-quality brain experiences to create massive success in every area of my life.) I call it the, “Of course Oprah is calling,” attitude.
Every day, one of my tasks (yes, this should be outsourced but I secretly love it and I’m not yet ready to give up EVERY single thing that is a part of my daily routine, though I am getting leaner with it all) is to visit Self-Management for Actors on Amazon.com and check its sales rank for both physical and Kindle editions.
When it’s in the top ten, I tweet a little celebration about it, say to myself, “Of course it’s number 5,” smile, and move on to the next thing.
Here’s what I don’t do: I don’t think, “Oh, thank GAWD! They like me! I’m safe! Phew!” and when it’s *not* in the top ten, I don’t think, “Oh no! What happened?!? They hate me! What are we going to do?!?”
Nope. No train can get down the tracks on this topic whatsoever because of my, “Of course Oprah is calling” attitude.
I get feedback that someone loves something I wrote maybe years ago? Cool! So glad they found it. I log in and see a new one-star review. Cool! They usually have said something like, “Gillespie makes this all seem way too complicated with data and research and pattern tracking and creating your own work…” which frankly is GOLD for filtering out slactors who want to believe showbiz isn’t a BUSINESS.
See, I wrote what’s getting the reviews or unsolicited emails or social media inbox goodness or even lovely mailed thank-you notes (often from parents!) *years* ago. Yup. The work was long-ago done — just like your work in getting cast starts WAY before you ever get in the room for any one particular audition. And by the time you get cast in a truly life-changing role? Honey, you booked that role WAY before that *one* read in the casting office.
So it’s like you do your work, you build your craft, you keep your mindset healthy, and when “the good thing” happens, your reaction is, “Of course Oprah is calling.” Because that’s the whole point. You’re so good at what you do that it’s turning heads like it’s supposed to. It’s law, baby. And it’s not that one thing you JUST did… it’s something that happened because of who you ARE.
Let’s lay that out again: When we *stop* standing on our head in an attempt to impress someone into liking us, when we *stop* trying to be perfect in order to get respect for a job well done, when we instead just lean into exactly who it is that we are (that’d be living on-brand, y’all… unapologetically) and do good work because it feels good to us — not because of what we hope we’ll earn from others by doing so — suddenly we’re appreciated for BEING, not for any of our huge stacks of DOINGS.
When I got really laid out earlier this year (like, probably while I was in the hospital for a few days, getting all the tests and being put on all the drugs), I surrendered to this. I said, “If I never again create ANYTHING for the actors of this generation, I have already done enough.” I had to say that because all I had running through my brain — well, along with all the fears of what mystery illness had gripped me and whether I’d continue spiraling down ’til I’m never allowed OFF bedrest — was fear that I would lose who I *am* if somehow I could no longer DO things.
Turns out, nope. I am worthy of love because I *am*, not because of all that I *do*. Letting go of the DOING really happened for me at this point. I’m sharing this with you so you can smooth this issue a bit before it gets to such a crisis point, should perfectionism be a drug of choice for you.
When we find ourselves exhausted by this business, overtaxed by key people suddenly not respecting our boundaries, and slowly becoming aware that there’s NOTHING we could *do* that would finally win over everyone whose love we’ve always hoped to gain — and by now we’re resentful for how long and how fruitlessly we tried — it’s time to revisit that big why, set and stick to a boundary that’s super kind, and focus on the BEING instead of the DOING.
And then this is when I’ll check in on my enoughness.
“Am I trying to do all the things because I’m feeling less-than-enough as-is?”
“Am I hoping my DOINGS will make me more lovable than I am just by BEING?”
“Did I let that last call from Oprah lay down some dangerous tracks for validation and therefore for lack of validation to get to me?”
And then I stop whatever it is that I’m doing because it’s not something that’s born out of inspiration or even motivation; it’s something the perfectionist in me is trying to make happen a certain kind of way so that I can win some sort of result (love, respect, applause, whatever).
How can you soften any perfectionist tendencies that may exist for you due to this whole BEING vs. DOING thing? Share with me in the comments below, please! Ooh, and is it possible that all perfectionism lives in that neighborhood? Is an enoughness check the fix for everything?
(Hell, it sure is the bottom line for a LOT of work we’ve been doing in the dojo for Get in Gear for the Next Tier lately. Wow! What an amazing way to reframe everything from not getting your brand figured out to staying with a crappy agent and from not creating your own content to being overly promotey about a project even you aren’t that excited about. It’s a really great issue to tackle together! You can join us in this 100-day experience here if you’d like.)
Reminder: Our free quarterly SMFA Tune-Up call is Wednesday (mah birfday!) so please be sure you’re all signed up to join us by filling out some goodness over here. I’ll be sharing details about how you can score “buy two, get one free” coaching hours with me in celebration of my turning forty-GREAT and of course we’ll be jamming about all sorts of trends in our glorious industry while fielding all your badass questions! 🙂 My favorite way to spend a birthday!! With YOU!
Sure do love you beautiful people! Stay inspired so you can stay inspiring! It’s important. 🙂 YOU are important.