POINT TO PONDER
"If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all."
STORY LINE by Rajiv Shah
A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of coaching a prominent UFC fighter for a movie audition. This fighter had very limited acting training and had only auditioned a few times before. I wasn't sure what to expect, considering his dominance as a two-time world champion fighter and relative inexperience as an actor.
As we began to work, we would rehearse a scene and I would ask him how he felt about his performance. He looked at me blankly at first and muttered, "fine, I guess." Clearly, how he was feeling was not something he was accustomed to pondering. We continued, working on a scene and then we'd stop and I'd ask how he felt. After one take he said to me, "you know, in what I do it's a weakness to show emotion. I've learned not to show much and here, in acting, it's the opposite. Showing emotion is a strength, it's different." It was clear that tapping into those emotions would be a challenge that he would need to work on before the audition.
He took on the challenge as any athlete would. He drilled and worked each scene. Over and over, he would run them until the scene was second nature to him. No longer did he have to think about what he was doing, he just executed the scenes to the best of his abilities. Later he explained that when his martial arts coach tells him to work a kick, he does the kick 500 times, until it becomes second nature to him. He didn't question it or theorize, he just did it. Even when he was tired. Even when he felt his kicks weren't the best. It was this same work ethic and drive that he applied to his audition preparation.
Once his audition arrived, those emotions he was looking for were there. He had done the work but he had stiff competition as a lot of professional actors were vying for the same part in this major studio film. He wasn't concerned with others, focusing solely on the task he had at hand.
In the end, the same work ethic that made him a UFC champion paid off for him as an actor as well, and he got the part.
When I look back on this experience I come away with five important things:
1. You focus on what you can do, not what you can't.
2. You work hard even if you might not be feeling up to it.
3. There is a clear difference between theory and practice. Theory means nothing unless you get up, make mistakes, and work through them. You learn best by doing.
4. Repitition leads to flow states. By doing something over and over, you stop thinking about it, and it becomes second nature.
5. You can always learn from others, no matter what is the assumed "experience level."