When You’re a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail

Funny thing about advice we get, mentors we seek out, classes we take…

We *think* we know what we want to be told, so we gravitate toward those who will take care of that need. We do this so often, we may not even realize we’re doing it.

For example, y’all know I’m going through some non-optional massive self-care lately. Seeing a bunch of doctors, specialists, therapists of all kind, and of course — #SoOnBrand — all sorts of woo-woo practitioners.

One of the many many many convos about my health brought itself around to the possibility of seeking out the advice of a surgeon.

“Nope,” I said. “Not interested.”

Why?

Because when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

When you show up for a consult with a surgeon, it’s called a surgical consult. And guess what they’re gonna suggest. Surgery.

And I’d like to try about 342 other things *before* that.

But often in our creative lives, we seek out folks for advice without realizing we’ve gone in for a surgical consult.

You think your demo reel sucks.

So you seek out an editor.

Guess what an editor is going to suggest.

That you recut your reel!

You feel underconfident with improv.

So you sign up for classes at one of the big improv spaces in town.

What are they gonna suggest after your intro sesh?

More classes!

Hate your headshots?

Welp, if you book time with a headshot photographer, of course it’s gonna be to shoot (not figure out what to do with your existing shots… which possibly contain a perfectly good one you didn’t select when you first saw the proofs).

Because when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

Sure, you don’t meet with a headshot photographer to discuss old headshots. That’s a silly example.

But it’s one I’m using to explain why you end up shooting new reel footage when you just wanted to tweak what you currently have, how you wind up buying a social media following when you just hoped to spruce up your website, or why you turn out to be in craft classes with people who then shock you with suggestions they make about changing your name and fictionalizing your brand.

Those that are tougher to see coming? They’re tougher to see coming because you didn’t do enough asking around — specifically asking your mentor, your mastermind group, your Google for cryin’ out loud — to find OUT that you’re getting a surgical consult when you went in for a massage because your massage therapist is KNOWN for practicing surgery!

Whenever someone blindsides you with a diagnosis, a recommendation, and especially a harebrained scheme, do yourself a favor and look for the lessons. Look for the places you could’ve noticed you were headed for exactly what blindsided you. Find out whether this person is doing exactly what their nature, their background, their past behavior has dictated they will do.

Your friend who went FiCore will tell you (and everyone else) that they should go FiCore. Your buddy who moved to Hollywood will tell you (even though the BEST target projects for you don’t shoot here) that you should move to Hollywood. When you say you desperately want a sign that you should stick out this whole showbiz thing just one more day, you’ll absolutely find a way to make the penny you found on the street into that sign (or, you’ll find a thousand signs you should give up, depending on your setpoint).

There’s confirmation bias at work in our lives, pretty much always. And BEING WRONG actually fires up the same place in the brain that registers physical pain.

Ouch.

So we look for ways to be right about *anything* we want to believe.

Be sure — in your quest for being right, your quest for being open to learning and growing, your quest to just enjoy this damn life we’ve got — that you recognize hammers for the nail-seekers they are, that you forgive yourself for letting confirmation bias dictate you stick in ruts longer than you need to, and that you check with your gut before (and after) checking with anyone else about what you MUST do *ever*.

There are “signature moves” that certain people in this industry are just KNOWN for having. When I was doing a lot more casting than I do today, I could always spot a member of The Actors Network (odd-sized mailer), a member of a Thriving Artists Circle (scary phone call), or someone trained by Matt Barry (casting directors credited on actors’ resumés), and many more such “tells.”

You may never know who’s a fan of Self-Management for Actors because there’s that whole SELF thing, right up top. You do your research. It’s unique to YOUR life, your type and brand, your voice as a storyteller, your tier, your trajectory. You apply the data to some never-fail methods. It’s unique to YOUR ability to follow through, your skills in the room, your capacity for sustaining success once it’s starting up for you.

And I will never give a single piece of prescriptive advice out to 100% of the creatives I jam with as if it’s THE rule.

No such thing.

I’ll always do my Skinnerian best to figure out what YOU need to figure out… and then we’ll find ways to make that the most fun it possibly can be, while also being wildly efficient and hugely effective. IF you can stay out of your own way.

Ooh! Creatives of Chicago, New York, Toronto, and of course Los Angeles… grab your spots in my Self-Management for Actors classes coming up right here! Not sure which class is right for you? PLEASE ASK! My whole team is here to help you find the right fit!

Creatives of London? Hold tight! We’re cooking up some really exciting badassery for our time together later this year. 🙂

Oh my goodness, all this flying around? I can’t wait!

But for now, I’m prepping for Thursday’s event in Hollywood (You comin’?)… holy crap, it’s MARCH? Pretty much! Yowza!

By the way, Sunday is my favorite day of the year (because it’s a complete sentence): March 4th (March FORTH… get it?!?) so please be sure you start something really amazing. Get something off the ground. Start a guided 100-day challenge with me, maybe? No time like MARCH 4th to MARCH FORTH, y’all!

Jam with us in the comments about all this below. 😉

Make it good.

*smooches*


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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8 Comments

  1. John Wiggins February 27, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Hi Bonnie and the Ninja Team,

    Such a great blast! It is so appreciated and #SoOnBrand for you to use your journey as a valuable teaching moment for the rest of us. Sending you lots of love and clarity as this unfolds for you!

    If I may, I have two questions about the NYC events. First, I have a coaching session in the bank that I’d like to do while you’re here. Does the 3-week advance for scheduling apply here?
    And second, I want to sign up for one of the Alumni workshops, and am asking for a recommendation. My preference is the Alumni Master Class, hoping it would pair well with the private coaching session. But if I don’t get into that, will I still be able to get into the other Alumni Class?

    Thank you! Am so looking forward to some real-time face-time in May!

    xo
    John

    Reply
  2. Jenna February 27, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Hi!

    Bonnie, I hope you are on the road toward healing and feeling better. As always, thank you for your advice and thought-provoking insight! I noticed you mentioned Matt Barry in this post and was wondering if you’re saying it doesn’t look good to list a class with him on my acting resume?

    Thank you!
    Jenna

    Reply
  3. Erin Zapcic February 27, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    Hiya John!

    I know Bonnie is just as excited to be in NYC as we are to have her here! With regard to private coaching, we’ll be doing personal outreach in the weeks to come with information about how you can get your session on the books. 🙂

    If the alumni master class doesn’t line up for this visit, you will definitely be able to participate in either of the other alumni offerings (or both!), and here’s some more information to help you make your decision:

    The SMFA Alumni Class is similar in content to the Self-Management for Actors One-Day Intensive, but this alumni version is so we can go super fast through the concepts (absolutely NO defining of terminology or basic explanations of ninja concepts in this class) and dig deeper on targeting as well as issues of branding, content creation, and networking.

    The SMFA Brand Blitz is like just the type/brand and pitch portions of the one-day intensive, plus a bunch of #Brandprov prompts. Ideal for alumni headed into film festival meet and greets, agent or manager meetings, press of any kind, or just those who really want to focus on a no-brainer understanding of how brand, pitching, and Brandprov feel in their lives.

    Hope that helps! We are SO looking forward to jamming with you!

    Reply
    1. John Wiggins February 27, 2018 at 11:54 pm

      Thanks, Ninja Erin! This was so helpful!

      John

      Reply
    1. Jenna February 28, 2018 at 8:04 pm

      Oh, great! Thanks so much for your help!

      Jenna

      Reply
  4. Bonnie Gillespie Bonnie Gillespie February 28, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    Oh, Jenna, I love the article Erin found for you but that’s about listing CDs from workshops on your resumé as training.

    Matt Barry is an excellent craft coach who just happens to suggest that actors list the casting directors of projects in their credits section (like, in that third column where the director/producer/studio/distribution entity tends to go). He goes so far as to suggest a fourth column with the CD info.

    It’s clutter. It’s nonstandard. And while I appreciate that he’s trying to elevate and respect the role of the CD in the actor’s life, it’s something that I see as a “tell” that you trained with him. 😉 That’s all!

    The way I make sure my role as casting director is elevated is by contractually agreeing to having my name ON THE POSTER for the film. It’s also nonstandard, but it’s sexy as hell. 😉 Especially when your name is right there above the LIONSGATE logo. 😉 Heh heh!

    Reply
    1. Jenna March 1, 2018 at 5:18 pm

      Ohhh ok, gotcha! Thanks so much for clarifying! I love that you have your name put on the poster! So awesome!

      Reply

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