Recently, a person I met while traveling described a sales seminar she had just attended for a multi-level marketing business she had been trying to grow for a few years. She was suffering over the fact that the people she had been trying sign on as new members of her “team” were either not showing up to the business meetings they had scheduled with her or they were simply not taking a serious look at the money making opportunity she was offering to them. At the seminar, this woman had shared her frustration in one of the training sessions and that the trainer, a very successful higher-up in the company, responded in this way. “Do you have an actual invitation from these people to ask them to join you?” I asked this woman how she interpreted what the trainer said. She told me, “Well, the trainer suggested that I was trying to get these people to sign up without first having a relationship with them. He said that I needed to first, be interested in them.” This woman also shared that this was an absolute revelation to her and something she never considered.
None of this surprised me. We can all relate to the experience of dealing with salespeople who unleash their old, practiced and by rote sales tactics on us in order to get us to buy something from them we don't actually want or to get us to pay for a service we don’t actually need. It is clear that they have no actual interest in us whatsoever, as winning is key.
I believe this is how many people enter into relationships, with their own agenda, without a deep interest in the other and in an attempt to win. I can say for sure that in this interpersonal soil, there is absolutely no chance in this world for authentic relationship to grow.
Now if this is the sweeping truth in our world, do you really think that the acting classroom will be any different? Interesting dilemma as the art of acting is an art of authentic relationship. It is really very simple: no true relationship = no true acting.
Of course, many acting students come with a deep desire to learn and grow. A second group come with something else, they come with the unswerving commitment to work hard even when the challenges of the work become more difficult then they imagined possible. And then there is a third group…
Fortunately for me, the majority of the students who attend my training programs, are in a third group of students. These students come with that deep desire to achieve excellence, they have that fortitude to work hard in the midst of frustrations and personal suffering and there is something else - they do it all with a keen and true interest in the well being of the others in the group. In fact, this group of students care as much about the well being of their partners as they do about their own.
I have worked with groups for years now and with thousands of acting students. I want you to know two things and I want to be very clear.
First. I have always seen the most profound growth in the students who are members of that third group, isn’t that interesting? Listen closely! It is the student who has the ability to get their attention off of themselves and to give their “rapt” attention to the others in the room that I have witnessed experiencing the ultimate joy of fulfilling the gifts and talents the universe has blessed them with. These are the people I have seen go to the ultimate places in the art of acting, venturing into the great unknown where creation is actually possible. This goes against the grain, as many students are so wrapped up in their own psychological drama and their continual worries about “making it” that the room around them and the lessons of the present moment do not exist for them; they drift off easily, they can’t really “see” the work that’s happening in the exercises, they don’t appreciate the struggles and the triumphs of the others in class and they create tremendous distractions for the students who choose to play a role in their drama.
Second. The problematic students are vary glad to pull you down with them. You will have to make a choice and it may not always be easy. But if you understand what "winning" actually means, if you really grasp that the source of all aliveness and joy is “over there” in the others, there is a simple phrase from the 12 step groups you may find useful in your studies, “Stick with the Winners.” Look towards the others who live in that third group for inspiration, practice giving them your interest and your attention. Listen very carefully and you will discover that there are students in the room who have an authentic need to make a very big difference on this planet through their art and who strive relentlessly, every day, every class, in every exercise, to fulfill that need. Align yourself with them."