How to Get Someone to Give Up On Their Dreams in 4 Easy Steps

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How to Get Someone to Give Up On Their Dreams in 4 Easy Steps

Dear Realist:

We all know a Dreamer.

Maybe it’s your cousin who calls herself an entrepreneur, the waiter who thinks he’s an actor, or your friend with the 90’s cover band.  

We all know these people who chase their dreams, create their future, and encourage others to do the same.

It’s getting out of control, and creating a culture of hope, of possibility, and of leadership.

And I, for one, am sick of it.

So, dear Realist, it’s time we band together and get people to stop pursuing their dreams.  

After all, we are the ones who know how the world really works.  We’re the reasonable ones, the reliable ones, and the predictable ones.  We don’t waste time dreaming of what could be -- we’re busy dealing with what actually is.   

We see life as it is, not as it ought to be.

We are a dying breed; but, we are the ones who must encourage Dreamers to take a more practical, more predictable, and more realistic approach to their life.

And we better do it quickly—hope can be contagious and spread quickly.

Here is the best way to get a Dreamer to quit in 4 Easy Steps:

1. Reinforce their fear of failure

Before you set off on this path, you may need a better understanding of fear.

Let’s take a second and clarify it further.

Fear is the emotional result of projecting a negative outcome into the future.

For example, I’m afraid to go to the doctor.  Why?  Because I assume the doctor will stick me with a needle, and that will hurt, so, I’m afraid of it.   

In this way, fear establishes our limits.  If I’m scared of heights, I stay low.  Scared of dogs, I don’t touch them.  Scared of relationships, I live alone.

Scared of my future, I don’t create one. 

Be careful, dear Realist.  Well-minded Dreamers are aware of the power of fear.  They will already have replaced “fear of failure” with “hope for success”.  This Hope for Success is very dangerous. 

It projects a positive outcome into the future, and creates a Hope Loop--a never ending cycle of positive projections into the future.   A Dreamer caught in a Hope-Loop is likely to never give up.  They will continue to see solutions, to adjust, and to make the best of a bad situation.

Here’s what the Hope Loop looks like: Hope replaces Fear, which opens the door for success, which creates more hope, which creates more success, which creates more hope, which creates more success…and on and on. #Annoying.

2. Remind them of the likelihood of failure

Failure is the inability to meet expectations placed on the dreamer by themselves or others.

To do this, take a second and throw some statistics at them:

“You know, 90% of new companies fail in their first year.  Only 1% of actors make it. 83% of online companies lose money.”

You can use these statistics to prove that failure is easier than success, even when they work hard to succeed.

Sometimes, though, these statistics won’t be enough to convince a true Dreamer.  If you find that statistics don’t pierce their armor, then, dear Realist, you must resort to stronger weaponry:  you must make use of their failures.  

3. Show them that their past equals their future

Investors know that past performance does not predict future performance, but dreamers don’t always realize this.

If there’s one thing that will kill a dream, it’s the belief that the past equals the future.  When a Dreamer sees their future from the lens of their past, their dreams often fade away into the void of impossibility.

There is nothing more destructive than the belief that the past equals the future. 

So, when you talk about their failures, be sure to position it as an indication of things to come, not as something that has already past.

You’re so close, dear Realist, and yet, there’s one final step to getting someone to quit chasing their dreams.

4. Make sure they see failure as an identity, not just an event

Failure must be WHO they are, not just WHAT they did.

Here’s how: Constantly remind them of what they are “not”.   

Tell the entrepreneur they’re not really a business person, and make sure the waiter calls himself a waiter, not an actor, and tell the working mother that she’s too busy to start a company.

When they are more aware of what they are not than what they are, the Dreamer will move from hope to fear, failure will move from a what to a who, and they’ll be well on their way to recovery.

In the end, a Dreamer values the possibility of uncertainty over the predictability of security, and it’s your job, dear Realist, to make sure they come to their senses, get a real job, and give up.

Go forth, and save the world.

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How to Carry a Trombone When You Weigh 68 lbs: 3 Things You Need to Consider About Acting

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How to Carry a Trombone When You Weigh 68 lbs: 3 Things You Need to Consider About Acting

I didn’t break 100lbs until I was in 9th grade.

So, in 6th grade…I was skinny—scratch that.  I was scrawny.  I had a tiny, little, rib exposing frame, and a big round head.

When our band teacher, Mr. Siler, asked me what instrument I wanted to play, it only seemed natural that I choose an instrument that looked like me.

The trombone.  I figured we had a connection.  We shared a similar lanky plight.

I remember going to the music store and picking out a trombone, playing with the slide, knocking things over with it….

In its case, it weighed more than I did and was bigger than me.  It’s difficult to hold something bigger than you, and I soon learned that carrying it on the bus was not going to earn me friends.

So, for three years in middle school band, I never practiced outside of class.  Mr. Siler knew it, my fellow trombone-ists knew it, and I knew it. 

I was last chair trombone in the Shiloh Middle School band. 

If you’re wondering… yes, last chair trombone means I was the worst trombone player in the band. 

I weighed 68 lbs, had a disproportionately large head, and I played the trombone.

(I was a stud.)

I hated to carry my trombone, so I hated to practice, so I never got better, so I hated band, and eventually, I quit.

Little did I know, however, that I was struggling with the very thing that can define the career and artistry of an actor.

My 68 lbs self did not understand the nature of practice, did not understand the relationship between being having a practice, and having to practice.

I see the same misunderstanding in actors today.

Practice is not the repetition of an activity. It is a mindset, a perspective, and an approach. 

Ultimately, it’s the relationship we have towards the things we do.  Do you do things to master them, to get them right, or to finish them? If so, it is not a practice. But, when we do things to learn from them, to investigate them, or to enjoy them, we are in practice.  

Like law, medicine, and yoga, acting is a practice. 

For an actor to have a practice, consider these qualities:

  1. A practice will emphasize the eternal over temporary.  Any activity that leads you towards anything finite is not a practice.  Yoga is a practice because it can never be finished.  Could you imagine someone saying, “I finished Yoga”.  A practice will lead you into questions, and discoveries, not into answers and certainty.  For actors, finite language like “objectives”, “tactics”, and “actions” often carry the weight of certainty, and do not lend themselves to a practice mindset.  But, infinite words such as “forgiveness”, “cause”, and “allowance” do.  
     
  2. A practice is not rooted in results.  When some thing is a practice, its worth cannot be measured in results alone.  Sure, maintaining a practice will have results—you will experience growth, peace, and joy within the activity—but it is not done with the express intention to achieve a result.  It is done, instead, for its own sake.  The very act of being in practice is reward enough.
     
  3. A practice emphasizes depth of process over height of product.  In practice, the actor’s process is attended to, not the actor’s product.  For example, when an actor rehearses a scene, they are not rehearsing the scene to get it right, they’re rehearsing to deepen their process.  It requires a different type of evaluation, a different approach, and a practice mindset.

For an a actor to maintain a life long journey of growth and artistry, they must come to see acting as a practice; a never ending process that can cannot be right or wrong, mastered or completed. 

I weigh more than 68 lbs now. 

And I’ve seen jazz musicians play the hell out of a trombone. 

I guess they practiced…

Do you have an acting practice? Do you have a practice mindset? Do you weigh more than 68 lbs?

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UnStuck Yourself: How to Free Yourself from the Quicksand in 4 Easy steps

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UnStuck Yourself: How to Free Yourself from the Quicksand in 4 Easy steps

I sat there for hours.

Looking at my computer like I was looking into the eyes of my 4th grade teacher reminding me to “color inside the lines”.

Blocked.

Stuck.

This is what Stuck sounds like:

“finally a quiet place to write look a hummingbird no focus on writing wow there’s three of them have I ever seen three at once quit getting distracted write did a hummingbird just pee on me WTF write! Fine. but why write it won’t be as good as what I wrote last time and I’ll never be Hemingway anyway and I hate putting myself out there what if someone comments again like last time why wont the Huffington post pick me up OMG SHUT THE F' UP!  Ok breathe just look at the humming bird to clear your mind oh look 3 of them quit getting distracted I am so stupid what is my problem…!

It’s like my creativity is taking a walk through the Forest of Dead and Dying Ideas and falls into an unforgiving pit of quicksand; and, the harder I reach for a vine to pull myself out, the more the sand swallows me up until my creativity finally dies a slow, choking, sandy death…

Yea.

It’s just like that.

#mightaswellquit

I’ve written about, spoken about, and struggled with getting UnStuck for years.  There is no shortage of tricks and perspectives that can help ease the pain of dried up creativity.  

But, the more time I spend focusing on quick fixes, the more time I spend stuck.  What’s that saying about only having a hammer…every problem looks like a nail?  

It’s time to take a deeper look at the quicksand.   Maybe then we’ll finally see a vine.

Here are four things guaranteed to pull your creativity into a never-ending pit of quicksand.

1. Comparison   

To stay in a creative flow, you must battle with your tendency to compare yourself to other people, past results, or self-imposed expectations. 

Believe it or not, comparison is the root of doubt.

Doubt is the result of comparing an uncertainty against your (often inaccurate) perception of your potential. When we interpret uncertainty through the lens of comparison, doubt triumphs, and our creativity is guaranteed to stall.  

Here’s the problem with comparisons: they have a magical ability to remind you of all the things you are NOT. You look towards the habits, successes, or abilities of someone else and tell yourself that you’re not as well liked as them, as productive as them, or as young as you used to be.  

This creates a ripple effect of self-centric doubt that will destroy your creative brilliance.  

But there’s hope!

The way to UnStuck yourself from the quicksand of comparison is to remind yourself of all the things you ARE.  Since comparisons often reinforce all the things you are NOT, you need to spend time reflecting on the things you ARE.  Can you list ten personal strengths right now? Can you write a paragraph about a time when you changed someone’s life?  

When you remember that who you are is more powerful than who you are not, you will finally remember that you are enough.  You will have pulled yourself from the quicksand of comparison.

2. Greed

Have you ever wanted something that did not belong to you?  Then you know what greed is.  

In today’s world, we usually point to people who seem to have too much of something as greedy.

But, really, you are being greedy anytime you want something that does not belong to you. 

My creativity is stopped when I find myself wanting something someone else has.  Maybe it’s a car, a house, or maybe it’s an opportunity or an award.  Anytime I find myself in a place where I cannot celebrate the victories of others, greed has taken hold, and I am damaging my creativity.

The only way to combat the debilitating effects of greed is to GIVE.  If you feel stuck, turn your work off, get up, and go give.  Give your time, give your money, give your ideas, give anything—just go give!  

Here’s the cool thing about giving: it’s the only non-possessive form of love and it never runs out. Only when you think you’ve given everything and are left with nothing but the desire to give more, have you truly defeated the quicksand of greed.  

So, get started soon, because each generous act is a vine you can use to pull yourself out of the quicksand.

3. Fear

I hate going to the doctor.  

Ever since I was a kid, the certainty that I was going to get pricked with a needle was enough to make me fake being healthy even if I was on my deathbed.

I’m scared of going to the doctor because, irrational as it is,  going to the doctor is going to hurt.

When the future seems worse than the now, we will be scared of it.

Fear is the emotional result of projecting a negative outcome into the future.

In this way, fear defines our limits.  If I’m scared of heights, I stay low.  Scared of sharks, I don’t swim in the ocean.  Scared of dying, I won’t live. 

Scared of failure, I won’t try.

When the quicksand in my head starts to tell me that no one will like what I have to say, that what I create isn’t very good, and that there’s no way I’ll ever amount to anything, I know I have succumbed to fear.

The only way to pull yourself out of the quicksand of fear is to replace it with hope. 

More specifically, replace Fear of Failure with Hope for Success.

Hope for Success projects a positive outcome into the future, and creates a Hope Loop--a never-ending cycle of positive projections. 

Here’s what the Hope Loop looks like: Hope replaces Fear, which opens the door for success, which creates more hope, which creates more success, which creates more hope, which creates more success…and on and on. 

Once you get caught in a Hope Loop, you will see hundreds of vines waiting for you to take hold and pull yourself from the quicksand.

4. Anger

You should see me in traffic.  I’m the guy who’s lost his mind.  I’m yelling, waving my hands, and in constant disbelief that YOU can’t drive faster.  

Yeah…I’m that guy.

And I’m sorry.  I’m generally pretty even tempered, but I drive in LA, and it’s rotted my soul.  So, I get angry in traffic.

Let me be clear, there’s nothing wrong with feeling angry and expressing it (a la me in traffic).  It’s not that you express anger, it’s where that expression takes you.

Anger can be quicksand, or it can be a vine.

When anger is a response to something you dislike, it will lead you into blame.  Since I hate being in traffic, traffic-induced anger leads me into blaming others for my discontent.  

But when anger is a response to something you love, it will lead you into solution.  If you love animals, their mistreatment will anger you and lead you to solution. 

When anger spurs a deep love, we move towards solution and find the never-ending fuel for our creativity: cause.

Cause is the key to a lasting creative flow; you must be driven by something bigger than yourself.

Your cause will be the thing that pulls you through the darkness and the difficult times, and roots you in meaning.  Your cause will be the thing you will spend your life in service to.  It’s powerful, strong, and the most important vine you’ll use to pull yourself from the quicksand.

Now that you have a clearer understanding of the quicksand below you, it’s time for your perspective to change.  Look up.  And grab that vine.

I look forward to celebrating your victories.

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