The Lukewarm effect…get your coach on!

Lets do a quick summary check on your career to date: You constantly consider your acting progress, where you’ve come from, and where you’re headed. Right? Great. You know what goals are, and you look for acting jobs all the time, always thinking forward and moving constantly towards a better version of yourself. Tick.

Now consider what happens if you keep progressing at the same rate for the next x number of years. Will you move forward positively? Absolutely! No doubt about it. The work you’re doing will continue to push you forward. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going at the rate you could be going at.

It is what I term the lukewarm effect. You will continue your along your path to success but you’ll be warm, not hot. “What…how so?” You ask.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”  Henry Ford (1863-1947)

Realistically I believe that the acting magic of truly great careers takes place when actors progress further, faster and more furiously paced than the previous year. Obvious, right? But how do they do it?

Well here’s the thing. There are a million ways that people keep hot, rather than lukewarm. And often it is easier than you think. If you knew how to find new ways to try something new (that’s a lot of NEWS is once sentence) who knows what could happen. Today’s blog is about just one possible way that you can do just that.

Have you ever considered a coach – A business coach, a life coach, a mentor, or a group? I have and I honestly believe they are wonderful options for us creative folk. Here is a list of potentials to open up your mind to new ideas and the way you go about the business of acting…. to get you from lukewarm to steaming hot in the acting arena.

Business coach: Business Coaches provide practical assistance in business areas of a person’s life, and are usually specifically related to a key business – in this case your acting business. A business coach may be internal in the form or a manager, or external in the form of an external consultant. Corporate coaching, executive coaching and leadership coaching all fall under this umbrella. This type of coaching does not involve being mentored or trained.

  • Cost: If they are an external coach, they’ll typically cost money. You can often negotiate with them based on a package deal, but realistically you’ll be looking at between £60 – £100 per session depending on their experience.
  • Time commitment: For you to get the most out of sessions with a business coach you will need to pre-plan your available time to accomodate having your thirty minute to one hour (typical time spent with a coach) sessions frequently over the course of a few weeks or months. Planning these out will make more effective use of your time together and for your homework in between.
  • B.A.B.E. recommendation: Check out Claire Habel at Inspiring Futures. Her coaching focuses specifically on women in business and helping them achieve their goals and business dreams.  She is inspiring, progressive and very thorough. Her business coaching transfers perfectly into the acting arena.

Life coach: With a Life Coach a person is offered assistance to help them identify their personal goals, and find ways to achieve them using a variety of tools, techniques and suggestions. They are not therapists, and they do not need to be trained Psychologists (well they may very well have a degree in Psychology but they aren’t there to use that for Life Coaching). Helping their client identify and achieve their goals is key.

  • Cost: Life coaches do cost money and they will usually have specific outlines on how much they cost per session or for a group of sessions, and how frequently you should have these sessions. Make sure you discuss this in advance so you aren’t stung for more money than you expect.
  • Time commitment: To be able to take full advantage of Life Coaching sessions you will also need to talk with the Life Coach and pre-plan how many sessions you might think you need to have. Again, you won’t know the full scope until you begin working with them. Some people only need a session to get them focused on something new, while other people can benefit from regular sessions over a longer period of time. 
  • Considerations: Take the time to make sure that the Life Coach jells for you. Don’t be bullied into working with someone who doesn’t hit the spot for you. You’re paying money for their expertise after all so you want to feel safe in the environment with which you are learning.

Mentor: Typically a mentor is a more experienced version of the junior person in that chosen area, with that junior person wanting to develop those same skills. For example, a new junior producer in a team may have a senior Executive Producer as their mentor to learn from, and to develop their own core skills in this area.

  • Cost: Mentors are free. You can either approach someone who you feel is suitable, or perhaps ask a colleague or someone more senior than you, who they might recommend. Being introduced to a potential mentor by someone else is often really useful as well – they can even big you up when they write the intro. It might also be nice to buy your mentor a coffee every once in a while to say thanks for helping you out!
  • Time commitment: Given that mentors offer their personal time for free, you may need to have a more flexible arrangement with them and also be willing to travel to them if skype is not an option. Most mentors are much more experienced than the mentee, and well worth being flexible for.
  • B.A.B.E. recommendation: While I can’t recommend a mentor for every person I meet, I can suggest ways that you might seek out an appropriate mentor within your chosen environment. For more info, feel free to email me. 

Groups: Definitely the toughest of the selection to get right. You need to be rigorous in your approach to selecting a group with the right fit. And it’s also very important to be equally clear about your end goal so you know if the group fits this. For example, if looking for an acting group is it to get practise with new monologues, to work on improv, or to produce a play. Be clear on your group goals.

  • Cost: Typically groups are free, with the exception of room hire. Asking to contribute to the price of the space is reasonable as many locations in London require you to pay for the use of a space. So if you are thinking of joining an acting group, check how much it is and what that covers.
  • Where: You can typically find acting groups through word-of-mouth, Facebook, Meetup, Stage 32, perhaps even twitter, fellow actors, and other acting websites with forums (Casting Call Pro has a huge forum section).
  • Time commitment: Often they are fortnightly or monthly arrangements.
  • B.A.B.E. recommendationWhy not consider your own network and who would work well with you on a month-to-month basis. Often you will find you have some great personal resources right in your back door in the shape of your acting friends.  Why not reach out to the ones you know are as committed as you are and see if they fancy getting together monthly to work as a group on acting. 

And finally, a little note – With any of these options you need to consider what they offer as their area of development. Is it aligned with your personal development or acting business? Sometimes you may even find that the first person you select isn’t the right personal fit.  When you are paying good money to have a coach, you need to be confident that you are getting something constructive out of it. If they don’t fit you, then it is absolutely fine to let them go and seek another person or approach.  Just be sure you aren’t doing this because they’re making you work too hard, rather than not fitting your core essence. And just because mentors are free, doesn’t mean you should continue if you aren’t learning anything. Your time is valuable.

And to ensure you don’t just give up, or decide you can’t be bothered to pay any more sessions because you are skint, be really clear at the onset what you need to get out of your upcoming relationship with them.  They’re running a business too.

So B.A.B.E.’s I hope this suggestion helps at least a few of you get back in that steaming hot tub of acting activity and out of the lukewarm swimming pool (couldn’t help the pun with the Olympics upon us).

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