So I had this big audition, fresh after graduating from theatre school, to win a coveted spot in the Stratford Festival’s actor-in-training program. Now in case you’re not familiar, The Stratford Festival is one of the most famous theatre festivals in all of Canada. And if you want to perform classical theatre, it is thee theatre company to belong to. Landing a spot in their training school means there’s a pretty good chance you’ll also land a spot on the roster for their upcoming season.
Now I wanted to get in of course, but didn’t really believe I had a chance. And so instead of working really hard for it, I did the opposite.
It was homecoming weekend, and the night before the audition there was this party. So I convinced myself I would be ‘good,’ only drop in for a little bit, have a drink or two, and then leave early enough I still had the evening to prep for my big audition. I asked my parents to pick me up at either 8 or 9pm, can’t remember now, so I wouldn’t be tempted to stay any later. They very kindly obliged, however at that point I was already a few glasses of wine in. Who’s kidding who, there was no way I was in a place to properly rehearse that night! And I didn’t. I crashed early instead (should have just stayed partying!) In my attempt to do both – both party and prepare – I ended up doing neither.
And yes, if you’re thinking I shouldn’t have left it so last minute in the first place, you’d be right. Procrastination was another pattern I seemed to be pretty good at. Especially when stuff was really important.
So the next morning arrives and I drive to the big audition. I practice my lines in my head, I wear my Shakespearean skirt, and I sit patiently in the hallway with all of the other hopefuls… all sizing one another up and down.
My name was finally called, and I take a big breath in as I walk to the centre of the room. I try to ground my feet inside my character shoes on the floor, state my name, and begin my monologue.
I’m less than two lines in, and it happens.
The thing all actors dread.
I stop mid-sentence, and completely blank on my lines.
Now if this were a modern piece of text, I may have been able to add lib or fumble my way through at least a few words until I found my way back. With Shakespeare’s poetry and and rhyming iambic pentameter, it’s a little more difficult.
So I stood there for what seemed like an eternity, until I simply couldn’t bear it any longer, and did what you are NEVER supposed to do in an audition: I broke character, I apologized, and I walked out.
Yup. For the first (but only!) time in my acting career, I TOTALLY bombed the audition, was completely mortified, and never again attempted Shakespearean theatre.
Now you and I both know the issue wasn’t about the audition at all.
The problem was my mindset and preparation – or lack there of – going into it.
I was clearly not all in!
Being ‘ALL IN’ means you’re going full steam ahead for something. It means you fully believe in something and you’re going all the way. It means you’re willing to sacrifice whatever it takes in order to get what you want or where you want to go.
When you’re all in on something, your eye is on the prize. There is no room for second guessing. There is no turning back.
When you’re all in on something, there is no plan B.
I hate to admit the number of times I’ve been way less than all in on something, in case it didn’t work out. The number of times I’ve self-sabotaged myself. Because if I do give my all, and it doesn’t work out, then I’ll be even more disappointed. And I’ll have failed.
But the truth is, I’m going to be way more disappointed in the long run if I don’t set myself up for my greatest success, if I don’t allow myself to give it all I’ve got, even if I do fail. Because going all in, whether it works out or it doesn’t, is better than half assing it, or even worse never trying at all.
Instead of having your toe dipped halfway in the pool, or too many toes tipped in too many pools, it may be time to go all in on one thing. On something.
What if it doesn’t work? That’s okay! At least you tried… and failure is a necessary step along the path to success.
And moreover, what if it DOES work?!?
It’s time to go ALL IN. To be all in.
Not sure what it takes? Here are three steps:
I had a total shift in perspective this week, when my amazing mentor shared why he didn’t believe in goals, targets, aims and objectives. At first I was quite disheartened – I love setting goals! – but then he went on to explain so long as we’re only aiming for something, and we fall short, it’s okay. He gave an example of a company who ‘aimed to be ethical.’ I got it. It almost gives you an out, doesn’t it?!? But if you COMMIT to something, it becomes way more powerful. It becomes real. When you’re ready and willing to seriously commit, to put a stake in the ground, by golly you’ll make sure it happens.
If you’re really serious about being all in on something, there are going to be other things that will have to go. You just can’t do it all (at least not all at the same time!) And as my wise theatre school director once said, in her beautiful British accent, “There will ALWAYS be another party!” It’s true. There will always be more parties, more opportunities, more distractions. They’re not going anywhere any time soon, so don’t worry!
One of the dominant themes I’ve been hearing recently from thought leaders and super successful folks, is that if you want something bad enough, you just have to keep going. An overnight success is at least 10 years in the making. So if you REALLY want something – whatever it is – keep at it. Don’t stop, even if it doesn’t work the first, the second, even the tenth try. Heck, the lightbulb took over 10,000 attempts! It’s not about how many times you fall down, it’s about how many times you’re willing to get back up. (yeah, yeah, cliché, but true!)
You’re never going to know what you’re truly capable of until you go all in.
And it’s time.
This week, I dare you to get your brave on and go all in. On something. One thing. An action, a belief, a desire. And then be prepared to commit, prioritize, and persist. You’ve got this!
I can’t wait to hear all of your brave commitments in the comments below! I’m cheering you on…
Have a FAB week!