Core Belief #2: Don’t Take it Personally
At the core of Artist’s Strategy are four beliefs that we ask every client to at last work towards accepting. Core Belief #2: Don’t take it personally.
“It’s not personal, it’s business.”
Some of you may be groaning at your screen, others may be nodding in half-hearted agreement, and others yet may be throwing their device at the wall and plotting our downfall.
The words above are surprisingly loaded in our industry. Even though we’ve heard variations on this theme all our lives as actors (“It’s selection not rejection” or “You have to have a thicker skin”), each time we hear it said it moves something in us. Which makes sense, right? After all we are the product, aren’t we? When people don’t cast us, don’t return our emails, don’t represent us or whatever, it invariably feels like a personal attack.
For a minute though, imagine any other working American, from a Fortune 500 CEO to a cashier at your local grocery store, taking their job too personally. Do you think they would carry out their duties in an effective manner? Do you think they would be able to actually hold down their jobs?
Probably not. And we are no different.
As actors we have the luxury of taking our craft very personally, but when it comes to running our business, we tell our clients that their feelings often get in the way of making strategic and logical decisions.
Feelings as saboteurs
We’ve all experienced something like this: an exciting opportunity falls through. Maybe you got pinned for a series regular but it went to that Instagram influencer instead. Maybe a casting director came and saw your Off-Off-Off-Broadway show, but never called you in afterwards. Maybe you met Benedict Cumberbatch while you were catering a party and he said he’d love to see some of your work, but now his agent isn’t returning your emails (stranger things have happened).
As opposed to taking these things in stride, with a healthy perspective and a desire to figure out the next practical move, many of us collapse into deep despair. When things don’t “work out” at a civvy job it doesn’t lead to existential crises and deep depressions. For instance if a deal falls through, a salesman doesn’t say things like “Maybe the universe is telling me I should be doing something else.” They don’t fixate and spin out, it’s business and it has nothing to do with them. Instead, they adapt and focus on solving whatever problem they need to solve.
This isn’t just for the negative feelings by the way. Getting manic over our victories can also be dangerous as it can breed complacency and a sense of resting on our laurels. But if we look at it objectively every job will come to an end, and because of our false sense of comfort we have made nothing lasting of the opportunity.
A frequent complaint we get around our work with clients is that, although it is effective and breeds results, it doesn’t make people feel good. This is not because they are doing things that are wrong or against their morals, it is because they do not have a healthy relationship with accountability and aren’t willing to figure out a way to handle a healthy dose of self-imposed pressure. So instead of stretching themselves, they quit entirely, trusting their feelings over the tangible results they get.
However, if they were working a survival job at Starbucks, they would probably always show up to work, even if they were feeling shitty. Why? Because they must. They need to make the money and therefore figure out how to adjust and deal effectively with the negative feelings they may have. They would accept their negative feelings and do the work in spite of them. Why can’t they do the same for their own business, which enables them to do what they love?
Disassociating from our emotions as business people doesn’t make us “evil” or “bad artists.” It keeps our head clear and our minds sharp so that we set ourselves up for success!
So save the drama for curtains up or lights, camera, action! Trust me, life’s much more fun that way.