There’s a guy I know in Los Angeles, his name is Mo, and he is a professional auditioner. From the outside he looks like an actor: He gets cast in shows, he takes acting lessons and even has an agent representing him. He is a guy really working at his craft. But if you ask him what he does for a living, he will tell you he is a professional auditioner.
I asked him about this once, expecting him to make a joke about how most actors were actually professional waiters so he just gave himself a title change, but he was very serious. He explained he’d go crazy if he focused solely on getting cast as a measure of his acting abilities. So many things are completely out of his control- how tall he is, his hair color, or whether or not he has “the look” a director wants for a particular role. Instead, he focuses on the things he can control. Is he on time for the audition? Does he know his lines cold? Is he enthusiastic for the role, not matter how small the part? When he is well-prepared, he can be happy with himself regardless of the outcome. He knows that he has no control over the final results, so he just lets that piece go.
Put another way, it looks like this:
How often do we control the pieces we can control and let go of everything else? If you’re anything like me, not very often. We grab onto the things we have no say over and gnaw on them like we’re dogs with new chewy bones. We take an idea, a problem or a worry and we fling it around, this way and that, over and over again, not making any progress at all, except to tire ourselves out. In the process, we let slip by us those things we can control. The result of this is we only heighten the anxiety, stress out more and have very little in the end to show for it.
So most of the time, it actually looks like this:
When we spend time worrying about the pieces we can’t control, we’re really just finding excuses to avoid hard things, anxiety or just plain old boredom. We put the metaphorical cart in front of the horse because it sure is easier to fuss about the cart instead of taking care of the horse. However, when the horse starves to death and someone finally comes to give you a ride in that cart, you’re not going anywhere, are you? Spending all our energy thinking about the things we have no control over never gets our dreams very far at all.
So today, I’m going to try really hard to focus my energy on the things I can control and try not to obsess over the things that come after that are out of my control. Even though I really, really, really want to have a say in them. I’m going to trust the process, take control of what I can control, and leave the rest for someone else. Want to join me?