Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Self criticism is the engine of improvement

The Words of Wisdom this week are self criticism is the engine of improvement. To get better at your craft, indeed at anything, you need to work hard at every aspect of its performance. If you do so, by gradual increments you will improve. Great effort is required for small gains and if you are too easily satisfied with yourself you will not make it. No-one ever became a great artist without having a level of discontent with what they were. So you must examine yourself and use the results of this self criticism to drive yourself. Self criticism is the engine of improvement. But there is a rider to this. You do need to recognise when you’ve done something well, pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself. Even a donkey needs carrots as well as the stick. So, recognise when you’ve done well and say to yourself "Well done."

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Be A Magpie

Let’s start with the Words of Wisdom: Be a Magpie. Those dapper little birds, supposed to bring good luck or bad, depending on their numbers, are reputed to make their nests by stealing any bright object that catches their eye from anywhere. Notoriously they are supposed to steal the tops from bottles of milk. Actors have to be a bit like that. They never know what the next part might be, so the more general knowledge they have about all walks of life, the better. Try and learn about psychology, history, politics, war, buildings, medicine, the law, the wealthy, people living on benefits, finance, manufacturing, education, clothes and fashion, sport, aviation, fishing, cars … I could go on, but you get the idea: let the whole world be your subject. You can learn a lot from reading and television, but also take any opportunity of mixing with people with a different background from your own: observe their behaviour, their speech, their body language, their unspoken assumptions. Watch people in the streets and on the underground and at the airport: how much can you guess about their lives? Be a Magpie.