People who won't try

2019-06-09

I had a conversation with a friend the other day which blew my mind.

She’s a voice actor. She said it really helped her when she was getting started to go to meetups with other voiceover artists.

She quickly figured out how to predict how successful someone would be in the industry. It wasn’t the people with the most skill or the best voices who were booking the best jobs. It was the people who tried the most.

Some people put themselves in a box. When a big job came up they would say “Oh wow, that’s way beyond me.” So they wouldn’t audition. They’re trapped in a self-fulfilling prophecy: they feel like they’re not good enough because they never get jobs like that, so they don’t try, which means they never get jobs like that, which confirms the idea that they’re not good enough. A vicious cycle.

Meanwhile, some people will audition for anything. They might not get the job, but it’s not up to them to decide whether they’re good enough or not. All they can do is audition for the jobs they want. Someone else will decide they’re good enough. Who knows? You might surprise yourself.

I can list a dozen examples from my own life where I don’t follow this principle. And the fact is, it’s holding me back. Anytime you rule yourself out without even trying, anytime you stay home because you’re scared, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

That kind of preemptive self-judgment feels like a deep part of who I am. I have trouble imagining being any different.

But there’s a glimmer of hope. I’ve found that facing that rejection gets easier with practice. You can learn to apply for jobs you’re not qualified for, talk to people you think are more interesting than you, speak in front of huge crowds. It’s painful at first, especially when it doesn’t work the way you wanted, but it gets easier the more you do it.

The unusual thing is being willing to start the cycle. To stretch beyond your comfort zone and give yourself a chance to be surprised.