What a night! So many things going on in my world right now, and last night was another truly wonderous night.
My wife Chris and I took an acting course with my friend Regina Schneider at her Acting School, Take2 Actors Studio. It was an 8-week course, and while I have taken a class before with Regina, it was Chris’ first class, and was a definite departure from her comfort zone. Last night was the Showcase, where all the students performed their scenes, Chris and I closing out the evening with our [performance from Beyond Therapy by Christopher Durang. Chris was awesome!!!
It is times like this I get to take a step back and just reflect on where I am and what I am doing. I do this a lot lately, because the changes and activities I am engaged in now, the direction my life is going, is so hugely different from where I would ever have imagined not 3 years ago. And it all started with taking a step, albeit a small one, outside of my comfort zone.
Now, I have journaled my journey over the years and shared many of the events with you, but the overwhelming feeling right now, and one I really want to share is how much different life can be, when you acknowledge your fears and anxieties, and take action despite them. Now, I am not saying throw caution to the wind and do things that are dangerous (without proper precautions), but how many of the things that we say “oh, I could never do that” could we actually do, and how would our lives change afterwards?
Pretty grandiose statement, huh? Do something you didn’t think you could do and your life will change. Let me explain.
I frequently quote from Star Wars because it has so many prolific quotes, and the underlying themes are such ready material for inspiration and hope. Obi Wan Kenobi says to Luke on one occasion “you‘re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” Read that a few times and just let it sink in. Focus on the words “truths” and “point of view” in particular.
If you think about it, most, if not all of the decisions you make in the course of your day are based on your point of view – your “perspective”. Things you learn, things you did and the results that came from them, things other people told you, beliefs and paradigms created when you were young as to who you were, what you did, what you were capable of. All of these things combine together to give you the picture and perspective of the world from which you create your truths and make decisions. How YOU see the world (your perspective & truths) will determine how you react to it (your choices and actions). Change your point of view, and your perspective will change.
Many years ago, okay, maybe 3 or so, if you asked me if I could perform in front of an audience, my answer would be a quick, yet absolute – NO!!!!! When you asked me why, I would tell you a few things:
- Oh, it’s just not my “thing”.
- I don’t have the nerve to do that
- I tried it when I was a kid in grammar school and it was horrible ( I didn’t actually, I had to sing in a chorus in first grade and just mouthed the words, but absolutely hated it – and that memory lasted from 1972 to 2015)
Now, the first item may be something that we have said on more than 1 occasion, and while it may be true, have you actually considered it, or are you just responding reflexively to something that makes you uncomfortable? I will be honest; I would say that initially to dismiss something that caused me anxiety – like acting or speaking in public.
The second item is really just a reaction to fear and anxiety. Instead of acknowledging the fear and exploring the opportunity or activity, you immediately make a decision that is difficult impossible to change, and will dismiss the consideration before it ever had the chance to be honestly see if there was truth or not. And, again, to be honest, I used this excuse as a reason not to try acting as well.
But the last item is the most important for our discussion today. How many of the “truths” that you cling to are a result of ideas, beliefs, patterns of behavior, and experiences that happened to us when we were young – like for me, when I was 6 and had to sing in the chorus.
We create the persona of who we are based upon our own beliefs and visions of who we are. But where do those beliefs come from? Why do we accept them as absolute and without reproach? Why do we reflexively say we can’t do something, be something, or have something because it does not “jive” with the vision, perspective, and point of view of who we are?
Before 2015, I was neither a public speaker nor an actor. Now, I do both. The opportunities I have now, the way I look at things, the very way my life is going right now, is completely different that where it was back in 2015. Things that “weren’t my thing” or that terrified me, I now do regularly, in front of audiences of varying sizes, and have opened my mind to endless possibilities and I am doing things I never thought possible. My perspective and point of view has changed and so have my truths. It’s inevitable, because I am now looking out at the world as a person who has acted and performed – I cannot see the world the same as before, because the world, and myself, are now different. And yet, all it took was 1 small step, 1 minor course correction, 1 Degree of Difference from what I was currently doing, to make that change.
Just remember, there is a difference between “truths” and “facts”. Facts are hard and firm, can be absolutely proven, and stand the test of time and scrutiny. 1 + 1 will always equal 2. “Truths” on the other hand, are subject to points of view – your point of view and when you open your mind to the possibility that your “truths” may not be “facts”, you open yourself up to a whole new world of possibility, and a world you that you may find satisfying beyond your wildest dreams.
Now, one more quick point. In no way am I suggesting that there will not be anxiety or fear when you “explore the possibilities”. When I went into the acting classes, saying I was anxious was an understatement. But I took the step anyway. I took action despite the anxiety and continued the steps with the anxiety. Eventually, your mind will realize you can do this, and while I still get anxiety today when I perform in public, it is one that is easily managed and does not hold me back. If anything, it inspires me to give my best performances, and that is an unforeseen gift that I never would have experienced had I given in to my fear and anxiety and never taken the step.
So, that’s my story for this week. If the opportunity presents itself, challenge your truths, especially when you find yourself saying “that’s not my thing”. Maybe it is, you just don’t know it yet.