If you were ever a serious athlete, you can’t really ever escape that mindset. I always look back on my athletic training when I need advice. This week’s advice came from cheerleading.
When I was younger, I was on an extremely competitive team for awhile. We were young and a lot of times we would complain about the rigorous training. All of our friends were able to hang out after school and just have fun… but we had to work. To combat our laziness, our coach told us that if we’re serious, we need to train harder than anyone else out there. There are plenty of teams who are training harder than us, giving more… being wholly dedicated and invested in the sport.
Lately I’ve been tired… really tired. Work is absolutely crazy, I’m babysitting constantly and I have rehearsal for 9 hours each week and at least one show a week until Christmas. With all of my responsibilities, I’ve kind of just been going from place to place without trying hard. I’ve just been showing up. The result? Lazy work.
So yesterday, as I was trying to not fall asleep on the bus that was taking me from work to babysitting then eventually to rehearsal… I thought of the advice my coach gave me. I thought to myself – how many other people are out there trying so much harder than I am?
I realized what my problem was on one of my improv teams. I have been in a slump lately and attributed it to confidence, long work hours, the late rehearsals… pretty much everything but myself. When I thought about it, I realized that I wasn’t really trying – I was just showing up. I got to this point in my training where I felt like I had enough natural talent to just show up and hope for the best – which wasn’t true.
Training involves reevaluating your strategy from time to time. So last night, as I was headed to rehearsal, I started to think of myself as a performer… where do I really shine? While the first answers that came to mind were, “When you’re good friends with everyone on your team!”, “During shows… on stage!” or “With your favorite coach!”… I realized that in all of those cases I’ve still had off days. So where do I really shine? In auditions.
It’s been a common theme throughout both my professional and performance life… I am best when the stakes are high. Really high. When the next few months, years or decades of my life will be decided by how I perform in this single audition or job interview. While some people choke, I shine because I get really serious. I’m someone who requires focus and these situations help me do that. I know exactly what they’re looking for and how to pull out all of the stops… I know there are no second chances. This is my one shot.
During my walk to rehearsal, I decided to treat the next two hours like an audition… like I had only one shot to impress these people. I figured why not try this mindset? Maybe it’ll make a difference, maybe it won’t – but there’s nothing to lose. The result? My first successful rehearsal since we started. I felt really good walking away from it… like I finally proved myself worthy of being there.
Sometimes you just need to take a step back to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself what you’re good at… then strive to apply those same skills to every situation. And don’t get lazy. Laziness is just wasted time.