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Don’t Get it Right, Get it Tight


by Christina Shipp

It’s not the last time you’ll hear me say there’s no such thing as Right and Wrong. ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ encourage binary thinking, ignoring any subtleties and variations—not to mention have no relevance when you consider everyone filters information through his or her own perception; one’s definition of right and wrong is therefore completely irrelevant to another.

Imagine for a moment the freedom you could have if you let go of your own preconceived notions of what is ‘right and wrong’ about you!

Folks were confused for years on what I did best when I was acting in New York. After a few success on the indie film and theatre scene, I started to notice that I was consistently cast as the victim whose abuses would catalyze her strength and turn her into a survivor in the end. Frankly, the work was fairly wrenching for me to do as a performer, but because I was good at it, and because I had some career successes, it felt ‘right’ for me to stay on that path, to keep doing projects where I was victimized on stage and screen, to keep showing up in roles telling the world this is the kind of work I do, and it became the kind of work I was known for.

But here's the thing: I was suffering. I had a huge chip on my shoulder because I was resentful about the career I had and the career I wanted. I couldn’t even see how much it affected my impact on others. I didn’t even notice I was short with directors, perceived as tough as nails and defensive, because that’s how my anger shows up in my body. I perpetuated the image of a tough gal who had something to prove, so that’s how I got cast.

But when I really thought about what I loved and what brought me joy, I realized: I would always rather make people laugh than make them cry. I was operating at a huge disconnect in my own value system. And why? Because someone told me once that comedy is ‘hard’, and it would be ‘wrong’ not to keep going in the direction I was headed. I was so obsessed with doing the ‘right’ thing for myself in my business, I was falling out of love with acting, and with my career.

I wanted to do comedy, dammit! I wanted to be perceived in one way but being seen in another. I was marketing to casting directors who exclusively cast for dark and gritty dramas. I was building relationships and targeting the wrong people. So I adjusted my tactic.

First- awareness is key. Being aware of why I was feeling so unhappy with my life and choices brought me to meditation and visualization. What I was doing wasn’t bringing me joy, and didn’t feel ‘right’ at all. So I started to visualize about what would.

I started to picture what would bring me peace, ease, and a sense of contentment in my ideal life and career. I daydreamed up scenarios that made me feel the feelings I was searching for, so I had access to them. So I could remember and call them up when I was feeling dark or overwhelmed or defensive. That sense memory training does come in handy, thank God.

Mostly, though, what changed, was giving myself permission to be ‘wrong.’ I started shedding limiting beliefs about what I could and couldn’t do and what was possible in my life. I told my self-judgment to take a hike, and any time I could feel it creeping in, I’d call upon my sense-memory-joy to talk me off the ledge.

Then, I asked for help. I got a career coach to help me become aware of why I was being perceived in a certain way, and what I could do to subtlety influence people in another direction through value-based marketing, personal style, and design. Just as your acting coach pushes you into doing your best scenework, a career coach pushes you to act with integrity, crystallizes how you are with who you are, helps you package with clarity and consistency, and shows you how to position yourself to people who can help you in the industry.

Lastly, I did my research. There is no way you’re going to target the appropriate people without a plan of action, and without knowing all the players. It frequently amazes me just how many of my clients pay to meet casting directors a) whose names they don’t remember, b) they never follow-up with, and c) aren’t in alignment with their career goals.

Once I had a sense of seeing very clearly what I wanted to do, experienced how I wanted to feel, and practiced how I wanted to communicate through my own particular brand of comedy, I had my targeted list of industry people to connect with.

How do you get yourself back on your path? What motivates you to break through bad behavior so you can be your best self? Post your comments below and let us know!

Yearning for your own personal transformation? Need a little mirror from an outside eye to show you how you’re being perceived, and whether or not it’s in alignment with your value system? Give me a call, or schedule your free intro session here. I’m here to help with your big shift and get you where you’re dreaming to go. 818.850.1039

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