She could tell I was uncomfortable. I was sitting across from Kelly Kimball, the respected acting coach and director I've written about before. I had just told her about a video project I wanted to film, unlike anything I created before. She quickly laid out all that might be involved, the preparation I could do, some adjustments I would need to make. It was masterful.
I must have visibly sunk into my chair. This will be worse than 10 TED talks, I thought. It was too much, and I would never be good enough.
Kelly noticed my apprehension, looked me in the eye, and said, “You’ll be great.” She talked about the work she had seen me do and why she knew I could pull this off. Then she paused. “Just ask yourself, before you start, ‘Am I in or am I out?’” It’s a question she has her acting students ask themselves before they do a scene.
If you’re out, you’re thinking about all that might go wrong. You’re focusing on why it needs to work - for the money or status or both. You’re questioning your ability and your choices.
If you’re in, you’re thinking about why you wanted to do this kind of work in the first place. You’re focused on who it’s for, and how it can help them. You’re thinking about the contribution you’ll make and the learning you’ll take away no matter what.
I sat up, smiled, and thought, I’m in. I told her that was a question I could ask myself before every talk or workshop, whenever I write, and any time I was about to do something I cared about.
This year, as you take a step, as you attempt something new - to learn, explore, or do anything that stretches you in some way - what mindset will you bring to your work, to your aspirations?
Are you in or are you out?
Note: For years, I've written every Wednesday and Saturday but on two different sites. Today, I've changed that, and merged everything here, including mailing lists because over time my work and life have blended. I'll continue to publish twice a week, and almost everything will relate to improving how people relate to themselves, to each other, and to the work they do.
Wherever you wish to go next with your career & life, I hope my work can help you in some way.