The F Word Equation | Failure – Fear = Freedom|
Let’s talk about the F words which are too often shunned by society – Failure and Fear. These emotions are a natural part of daily life and are usually associated with negative connotations, though I promise you they are each powerful teachers that can allow you to be a stronger person. In fact, you can’t succeed without them!
I experience failure every day – and that’s okay. Perhaps you do too – and that’s okay. Whether it’s the fear of failure or failure itself, don’t let the fear take over. It’s easy to be so caught up in the negative moment that you close yourself off to the greater experience. Don’t let the negative voices creep in and cloud your experiences.
Instead, try to be aware of the situation and practice positive thinking. Train yourself to be open to the lessons that failure brings, then you’ll be able to expedite the success that follows.
Failure is Inevitable!
Positive thinking takes more conscious effort, but the more you do it, the more natural it’ll become. A positive shift in your awareness could change your life. Know that you’re going to fail. You’ll make mistakes. You will feel fear, though you don’t have to let it control your life. You can change your relationship to these experiences and use them to improve, because you are so much more powerful than you imagine.
It’s important to experience the feelings of fear, pain, sadness, and anxiety because they are all real human experience. As an actor experiencing it in an aware state, you’ll be able to access and portray it realistically when acting. Remember, authenticity is the very thing that sets you apart from other actors, it’s the thing that will make your audience feel your humanity.
Stay Present…throughout it all
Be present when you fail and know that there will be a lesson in it, even if not immediately obvious. At some point you’ll be able to access the lesson from the chaos. It might take a good bit of time to figure that out, but if you’re open you’ll realize the lesson and grow from it. Our self-created fears and anxiety about what we do (especially in this business) are our greatest saboteurs.
My big “Failure Story”
When I was a struggling actor working three jobs to pay my bills, I had a final call-back for a Mortal Kombat movie. The character was Goro; a half-man, half-dragon, full brute-force character. This was an extremely big opportunity for me – I knew it could be the break I needed so I wouldn’t have to work so many jobs and I could focus more on my passion. At the audition, I realized I was totally out of my element; nervous, anxious… I was simply terrified. Ultimately, I pulled myself together and went all in for this boisterous, screaming and roaring warrior. Afterwards, I was kind of exhausted and I allowed myself to show all of that. I brought this whole drama thing as I recovered from my performance – breathing heavily, hands on my knees – to the point that one of the ladies eventually asked if I was alright. I said, “Yeah” and she replied, “Okay, great. Thank you. Next!”
In that moment I realized the drama I’d just created in the room took me out of the running for the job. That was hard, but the lesson was easy: don’t bring drama into the studio! It’s good to feel all the emotion, but express it in the appropriate place. Needless to say, I did not get that movie role, but I decided I’d let it go over the years, and I even got to work on the Mortal Combat games later on.
What I didn’t know…
20 years later, when I recalled (and researched) that story for a Blumvox Studios Voiceover Class, I realized that I hadn’t really let it go completely. Even though I’d already beaten myself up that day and I’d learned the lesson to curb the personal drama, I was still carrying that drama failure with me. Out of curiosity, I looked up who ultimately got that role. It was Kevin Michael Richardson, an amazing guy and an incredible voice actor who was already an established actor at the time – and if I were casting, I would have used him too, because he was right for the role.
I didn’t know that info at the time. We don’t know all the details when we’re in the booth. We just assume everything is our fault. Your perception is what drives your assumptions. I had let my anxiety and fear – over years – have the power. I assumed it was my failure that day that cost me the part – which could be true, though the larger truth is that they had someone else who was right for the role. The casting decision was not in my control. It’s as simple as that.
Don’t focus on what “was!”
This is true for each obstacle that you come across… from the small hurdles to the big challenges. Don’t let it grow into a snowball of negativity. There’s no benefit to focusing on one negative thing, to another negative thing, etc. Don’t beat yourself up. Know that you will fail. It does NOT define you. Become resilient. Try to learn from it, laugh it off or cry it out, and move forward.
By accepting your own failures – and not being owned by the fear associated with it – you become an expert in knowing what you don’t want which gives you clarity to what you do want. Knowing what you want is half the battle in life, and in this business. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, and if you do your best each time, regardless of what you’re doing personally or professionally, you’ll be able to learn from the failures with less fear – and that will give you a special kind of Freedom altogether.
If you’re still reading, I hope this is meaningful to you, especially at this time. There’s lots to be fearful about, but the only thing we can truly control is ourselves, our inner conversation, and our awareness. Fear happens, focus on what you can get out of the experience that is positive. It’s a key to your success.
Here’s a reminder from T.O.M to help bring it home: https://youtu.be/pNxvpWaRqLs
Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experiences with us! This honestly can’t be said enough but you’re right that failure is shunned in our society and it’s a real shame that it is. It’s all about perception and what you choose to do with your experiences and where you go from there. Embracing both the positives and negatives is truly important and a part of life’s balancing process (like yin and yang, sun and moon, summer and winter). You truly get to live once you experience what the world has to offer, both the good and the bad of life– like a heart beat.
Fear and failure are huge obstacles for me, and I try to shy away from them to avoid getting hurt. However I realize that it’s good to feel those frustrations and emotions because it’s good to get them out. I love how you seemed to stress that here.
Thank you for sharing Steve. When reading this I couldn’t help but quote Yoda, ” Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is.” Fall seven times, you get up eight and learn from the seven.
It’s great to hear your experiences on failure. I’m glad you were able to realize that they found the right actor for the role. I do believe we learn from our failures. It also can help motivate us to work even harder the next time. It really is good to stay positive and keep moving forward.
we must be relentless in our pursuits and with that comes failures… i learn from my failures and from falling down. this is crucial for a voice actor as we have to let go of the things that restrict us to live in a space of creativity and balance.
Failure can be a hard thing to recover from, especially if it happens too often. It becomes the expected outcome. But what do we do when we fall Bruce
This is such a great piece to share. It really helps us beginners to hear your story of failure and fear. It helps us by connecting us with how you felt and gives us pointers on embracing it and helping us grow.
Thank you for sharing this Steve. Fear is like a constant companion in my life, sometimes we fight, sometimes we don’t, sometimes I am able to take over my days. I have learned from many experiences in my life, and still am, and knowing this now that you have shared with all of us, helps so much. Fear can come in so many forms, fear of losing, fear of heartbreak, fear of loss, so many many forms, but, I think with reading what you have written here, regardless of fear’s form, there is always something to gain from it.
Thank you for sharing and telling us this. This honestly helped a lot. Because I’m a perfectionist. And it can be helpful at times. But it holds me captive. Frozen sometimes. Because I’m always worried and fearful of what “not perfect” looks like. And in the end, there is little to no progress. It’s something I’m working on. But I realize that fear really holds me back in expressing myself fully, and doesn’t allow me to grow. And I fully punish myself for it. But you’re right. Sometimes things are not in our control, and when rejection happens, it’s a blessing in disguise. I’ve recently had a moment like this. And I’m so grateful for it. Reading this just helped validate that feeling. Thank you. Stay Safe.
Read interesting how much people struggle with the idea of failure- without failure, success isn’t as meaningful. It’s inspiring to see how you worked around it.
Thank you for sharing this Steve. I have came across failure lots of times. I have to admit it sucks but its a life lesson that somes failure is harsh but its meant to lead for sucess. Sometimes it takes time to let bad events go even if it takes so long. But I make the most of what I got and move forward.
It’s always nice to get a look at what happens behind the scenes.
I feel that you really connected with fans like myself.
TOM was a huge part of our childhood and we appreciate the effort you put into his character as well as many others.
I hope to meet you one day at a convention.
Everything you have mentioned, hits home with my situation at this exact time in life. Again
appreciate EVERYTHING you say. Getting primed to join the classes soon.