Why We Give Up

Why We Give Up

Mark Westerberg 

Being the best helps you stand out from the crowd and in the acting business, that’s essential for success.

But the journey to be the best is a difficult one and most give up on the way. Many settle for being just good enough to work, but working actors often confess to me that they are concerned about the quality of their work.

Getting good at anything has a predictable journey.

Every endeavour starts off as relatively easy and fun.  Over time, as we get better, we have to raise our game to higher and higher standards if we want to move from beginners to professionals.

As we do this, the level of fun drops and the difficulty increases.  And, for a considerable part of our journey, it stops being fun altogether, it just becomes difficult and frustrating.

This is where the best become separated from the pack. And it is not by their ability, their experience or knowledge that separates them, it is how the best behave during this tough time.

The best acknowledge that there is a period of pain, a period where it is pure graft, and struggle, and an uphill struggle at that, but they respond with perseverance.

The rest fall foul of a simple misunderstanding about talent and skill development that is prevalent in our society. We think if something was easy and fun to begin with, that if we are getting better at it, it should get easier and more enjoyable, after all, those with ‘talent’ or ‘ability’ should naturally find things easier.

This is the mindset of an amateur.  And that’s why so many of us give up. We give up learning languages, playing the guitar, pursuing a certain careers, and of course, getting better at any skill based endeavour, because it stops being fun. And as amateurs, we only do it for the love of it, so when the difficult level increases and the fun vanishes, where is the point in carrying on?

The mindset of a professional is that becoming expert at something MUST undergo this inevitable inverse bell curve. It will start as easy and fun, it will rapidly start becoming more and more difficult and let and less fun, then it will be difficult and frustrating for quite a period, then it will become fun and easy again.

If you want to be the best actor you can be, expect what author Seth Godin called ‘the dip’, expect the difficulty to increase and expect the fun levels to drop. Expect to encounter a period of frustration and it may be considerable in length.

But giving up when you have invested so much time, money, and energy, just because the inevitable dip occurs, that’s just crazy.

Those that make it to the other side become exceptional and those that do not -well, they take up a new hobby.

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