Tuesday, 29 April 2008

If you can't be perfect be good

And the Words of Wisdom? If you can’t be perfect be good. If you’re preparing for an audition, there are some types of piece you can polish and polish and polish – just like in Groundhog Day – until you have the ultimate performance. But you can’t always do that, particularly with comedy pieces. You can never do them the same way twice: there are simply too many variables involved. This sometimes leads to a feeling of disappointment, because after you’ve done it well, you want to be able to do it just as well again, but every time you do it, it comes out differently. Accept it: remember the best is the enemy of the good. Don’t punish yourself with perfectionism. If you can’t be perfect be good.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Don't waste time and energy on the trivial: focus on what's important

One person who inspired me when I was a teenager was the Australian athletics coach Percy Cerutty. He used to take his runners to a training camp he had by the sea and have them run up and down the sand dunes, live naturally in the open air on a better diet and train incredibly hard. One story he tells in one of his books I have never forgotten.

Cerutty noticed that there was one bunk in the hut where the runners all stayed that always seemed to be occupied by the best athletes. This was the bunk of Herb Elliott, who was to become the best runner in the world, and many other champions. Now it wasn’t the best bunk in the hut, in fact it was the worst, being on the ground by the door, and Cerutty worked out why this was. He watched how a new bunch of boys would arrive on the bus, how they would race excitedly to the hut, making a lot of noise, and sling their bags to grab the best places, at the top and near the stove. Except the one who was going to be a champion didn’t do that. He knew they weren’t there merely to get the best bunk; he was there to aim for something bigger than that. And that’s why he got the worst bunk.

I remember that resonated with me when I read it at the age of 16 and I resolved in that moment to live like a future champion and not get tied up with trivia. And I commend that to all of you. If you’re an actor you can be waylaid by all sorts of things: the pay, the billing, how unnecessarily early the call was and how you’re now having to wait around for hours, all the backbiting that goes on whenever two or three (actors) are gathered together. It all gets in the way of your main aim. And so the Words of Wisdom are: Don’t waste time and energy on the trivial; focus on what’s important.