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As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that all the things I’ve said “I Don’t Know” in response to – I actually did know.
I’m not talking about knowing the answers to advanced physics or calculus theorems.
I’m talking about knowing the answers to questions that pertain to the heart.
You do know what you want to do.
You do know what you want to become.
You do know what’s possible for you.
But the “I Don’t Know’s” keep us in a place of inaction, confusion, inertia. They keep us stuck, legitimized in our excuses, off the hook.
When you’re asked a question, and your response is, “I Don’t Know,” wait for the second answer.
It’s the true answer that you don’t want to say out loud.
You judge it. You’re scared of it. You think other people might judge you. It might hurt someone’s feelings. You might have to get honest in a way that requires you to change something in your life that isn’t working. It might bring up feeling.
I have a friend who was in a bad relationship. I asked her why she didn’t just leave the guy. Her response, “I Don’t Know.”
Of course she knew. But having to say what she knew required her to confront areas of her life she didn’t want to face (the fear of being alone, the admittance she deserved better, the realization that her self-worth was determined by another person). She thought by not acknowledging it, she wouldn’t have to face it.
Denial postpones. It doesn’t prevent.
I ask an actor why he hasn’t called his agent. His response, “I Don’t Know.”
Look behind that answer. What are you scared of? What would it mean to actually initiate movement in your life in an area that’s stalled out? What would it mean to speak honestly about your needs being met and what you deserve? What would it look like to be liberated from the imprisonment the “I Don’t Know’s,” lock us into?
The next time you say “I Don’t Know” to something. . . Stop. See if you can identify the pay-off in responding that way.
Then wait for the second answer.
What would it feel like to give that answer a voice? A place to be expressed? An opportunity to be shared?
I don’t know.
“There are no short cuts to any place worth going.” ~ Beverly Sills
The answer to everything you are up against in life is. . . well. . . you.
Or rather, you hold the answers to all your questions.
But in order to access them, you have to ask different questions that require you to express your needs.
Why is this so hard for us? Why are we so scared to ask for what we deserve?
Especially when it comes to agents and managers?
You’re repped by someone and haven’t gone out in six months and yet you’re too scared to have a conversation. It might “rock the boat,” or “mess up a good thing.”
You’re not repped so you take the brain drain train and think to yourself, “I’m not good enough,” or “No one is ever going to want me,” simply because you’ve been rejected in the past.
Our fears are tied to our own childhood images of self-worth. We think if we express our truth we’ll be abandoned, or punished, or lose.
But here’s the irony. If we’re in a relationship that isn’t working (we’re being taken advantage of, or we aren’t respected or we aren’t having our needs met) it’s never going to change unless we communicate.
Even though in the short term our worst fears might be realized – we break-up, or our agent drops us — in the long run, those actions spurn us toward where we ultimately want to go.
Homeostasis = Stagnation. Stagnation = No Growth.
Here’s this week’s homework:
1). If you have a great agent/manager relationship – you’re auditioning and you talk regularly with them — thank them for the wonderful job they’re doing! Do you know how rare it is for them to hear a client say “thank you” just because? They work hard. Let them know you appreciate them. Not just when you book.
2). If you haven’t talked to your agent/manager in months and have had zero auditions, call them. Start a dialogue. Communicate your needs. Find out how you can help. If it’s not a match, let it go so something new can come into your life.
3). If you don’t have an agent/manager. Find one. And don’t stop until you do.
“Today you are you, this is truer than true, there is no one alive, who is youer than you.” — Dr. Seuss
Why do we wait? For what? We wait for the better airfare, or for the date we went out with last week to call, or for permission. We wait until we lose 10 pounds, or until we get our haircut or until we’re “more prepared.” We wait to get new headshots or write that novel or ask that person out on a date. We end up wasting so much time “waiting” for the right moment, that eventually the things we were “waiting” to do – slowly disappear from our lives. We end up not doing them at all. They become long-lost dreams that for some reason, we seem to be okay with not having anymore.
So when is the right moment?
Stop waiting for things to get better or easier or less busy. Stop saying that you need to wait to be better prepared or more secure or more sure of yourself. Stop waiting for the girlfriend or the husband or the agent or the manager. Stop waiting for the right look or the right age or the right resume or the right time.
Stop waiting for someone or some thing to give you permission to be all that you already are.
Stop putting your life on hold, thinking you’re still missing something in order for you to do the things you want to be doing. You can do them now.
Homework: What have you been postponing? Putting off? Delaying? This week, go do the thing you’ve been waiting for “the right time” to do. Take the trip. Write your screenplay. Enroll in a class. Go to the gym. Ask for help. The time is now. It always will be.
“Life is being on the wire. Everything else is just waiting.” — Karl Wallenda