How to Handle Failure

Being an actor unfortunately means that you will experience failure.  I have experienced failure, stars have and you will also as you move along your journey as an artist.   It’s part of the game and if you’re not failing, then you are not trying.

At the end of the day failure is simply feedback. You will experience rejection and you will have tough moments in your career when you feel like you royally messed up. Maybe you lost your lines at an audition or simply didn’t’ perform well, however you should always remember that it is never as bad as you think it is.  It never is.  As an artist we always focus heavily on our failures rather than on the positive aspects of our careers and performances. 

However, our goal as performers is to develop the ability of thinking extraordinary, not common and normal.  Thinking extraordinary means having the ability to experience failure and have the discipline to ignore those failures, move past them and immediately focus on the next audition or performance.  What separates those we admire in any field is their ability to ignore their failures, to learn from them and to move past them. 

A more normal way of thinking is to ponder heavily on our failures and to only see the negative in our performance. That’s normal because that’s how our brains are wired. They are designed to think of the negative first so that we are able to survive. There isn’t a performer who has not experienced failure and had a massive disappointment. It is important for you to remember you will get another opportunity to perform and make up for it.  

Here are some exercises to help you get over the failure:

  • Write down two or three actions you could have taken to prepare differently and that might have helped you improve your performance.   Ask yourself, honestly:  Did I prepare enough? Did I go to bed at the right time? Did I drink too much the night before?  
  • Write down two or three actions you feel you also did well. It is critical to focus on the positive so that you can ingrain what you did well and give yourself a better chance of repeating it. Train yourself to focus on the positive even if you feel like you did nothing well.  It can be as simple as how you walked in and out of the room. Or how you marketed yourself to get the audition. Train yourself to always focus on the positive.

Also, make it a part of your mission statement as an artist that when you feel tired, or feel too stressed for whatever reason, you will not give yourself the excuse to not be fully prepared. You won’t use the excuse, “I’m just too tired to work on this material”.   The thing that separates elite performers from everyone else is their ability to prepare when they don’t feel like preparing.   

Your job is to hammer away at all cost at your craft even when you are exhausted and don’t have the energy.  That is what will separate you from everyone else and it will change the course of your career.