Ch01.Blog14 What's stopping you?
There’s a lot of discussion that goes on around how fulfilling your work life should be.
And as an artist or storyteller you hear a lot of advice of this type:
“If you don’t love it, do something else.”
“It’s not enough to be talented, you’ve got to really want it.”
“If it’s not fun then maybe you should find something that is.”
“How long will you have a go at it before you give up and try something else?”
“Acting is hard work.”
“If you pick a career in the arts you are choosing a life of struggle.”
What do people mean when they suggest the life you’ve chosen is “hard” or that it will be a “struggle”?
They’re not talking about studying 11 years to pass your doctorate or performing surgery. They might mean making enough money to keep a roof over your head but they aren’t talking about having to flee your home in a war torn country.
I’m not saying that as an artist staying motivated, handling rejection and moving forward even though you’re not sure where your next pay cheque is coming from is without challenges. But why do people ask a performer how long he/she is going to try to live the way they believe they should before they pack it in for something else?
I doubt it’s something you would ask someone studying law, or commerce or science.
You wouldn’t say to a doctor who was about to go into surgery “If it’s not fun, do something else”. You’d be more correct to say “If it’s not important to you, do something else.”
This quote by American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist, Leonard Bernstein, particularly resonates with me:
“Art never stopped a war. That was never it’s function. Art cannot change events, but it can change people”.
That’s right. Art can change people.
One way I get around resistance in my life, both internal and external, is by reminding myself that what I do is important to me because I believe it can create change. A lot of the time it’s fun, and most of the time I love it, but that’s not what really drives me. If it did, I’d spend more time snow skiing.
I’m currently in post-production on a short film that is particularly important to me. Over the last 12 months I’ve learnt an enormous amount and overcome some big, to me, obstacles to bring my project to fruition. But I’ve also put things off and delayed starting things that challenge me even though they are ultimately essential to achieving my goal.
We do that a lot, huh?
We put off things that are important, or difficult, or that we know will bring us joy in the end. Maybe we’re tired or uninspired or don’t have enough time, but most likely, we’re just afraid.
In his book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield says “Fear is an indicator. It tells us what we have to do.” He’s right, often the things we most want to achieve are the ones that we are most afraid of. So let that be your guide.
Today I challenge you to find the thing you fear, to take the focus off how fun it will be and think about how important it is, to move past worrying about how long it will take you or whether you should give up, and to see what life is like when you let yourself be powerful beyond measure.
Because really, what’s stopping you?