You Can’t Afford NOT to Invest in Personal Development

Post originally published on Backstage.com 

It was one of those auditions where I didn’t feel like I deserved to be there.

When I arrived, casting was on break and I felt intrusive. Suddenly, I was self-conscious of everything I did. Am I sitting too casually? Should I put my phone down so I’m ready when they are? My head was spinning, despite not having one negative word said to me—the negative chatter was all my doing.

It was an uncomfortable reminder of how easy it is to feel small, insignificant, and a general sense of “not enough” as an actor. We see the clients behind the table, often with a delicious spread in front of them. (“This cheese is for anyone, yeah?”) If we’re struggling with finances, we notice the nice clothes the clients are wearing. Meanwhile, we can’t wait for payday so we can finally buy a new pair of nicer dress shoes. All the while trying desperately not to make it obvious how much we’d really, really like to get cast so said paycheck can come sooner.

When this negative chatter goes off and running, focusing on disempowering thoughts and emotions, what are we supposed to do?

Returning home from the audition, I grabbed a snack (they didn’t share the cheese) and pulled up a Backstage article written by casting professionals. Slowly, started to develop a more empowering view of myself as an actor. Later in the evening when I was making dinner, I listened to a recorded coaching call I had saved where Dallas Travers shared some empowering ways to view yourself as an artist, specifically when it came to finances.

Since learning about the world of personal development, I’ve taken it upon myself to consume self-help books and podcasts. Just as important, I believe all actors should invest in professional development specifically for the craft. Read articles. Listen to acting podcasts. Consume positive and empowering content from the people who have been in your shoes and know what you’re going through. Doing this not only drowns out that negative chatter, it rewires our thinking so we believe, rightfully, “Yes. I am enough. They’re lucky to be seeing me today. I’m awesome for doing this.”

I’ll end with one of my new favorite mantras from “The Power of Vulnerability” by Brene Brown, an excellent author who writes on personal development and learning to dismiss that negative chatter: “Don’t shrink. Don’t puff up. Let yourself be seen.”

Don’t hide who you are, actors. Don’t overcompensate, either. Just let yourself be seen and trust that it’s enough. Let’s go get ‘em, friends.

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Thanks for reading!

By the way, I’m Tony. I live in Chicago. (Duh.) I’m an actor and blogger living right up the street from Wrigley Field. 

My blog is here to help others take control and live a more authentically positive life on their terms. Since working with a coach and learning more about personal development, I’ve started sharing my learnings with others. (I have a lot…)

If we’ve never meet – shoot me a tweet!  Would love to hear how you found this 🙂 

Wanna see more? Check out my actor website or YouTube channel!

Wanna make sure you never miss a post? Click the “Follow” button in the right corner to enter your email and subscribe! 

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How a bunny rabbit reminded me to be happy

In 2009 I decided I was going to move to Chicago.

I was about to enter my senior year. During class the previous semester, a professor mentioned some cities around the country that are great for pursuing theatre. Chicago was one of them. Seeing that I had an aunt and uncle living in the city, plus always wanted to try living outside of New England, I decided to check it out.

I contacted my aunt and uncle and booked a flight.

While I don’t remember all the details, I remember the first night of my first visit very well. The weather was nice, so I went for a walk with the two of them around their neighborhood. I specifically remember this because we saw a little guy cross our way…

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Actual bunny from that day 

Okay I lied. That wasn’t the actual bunny. (But it is AN actual bunny, guys…)

I wasn’t used to seeing bunnies randomly on the sidewalk. 21 year old Tony was thrilled. That trip, I decided I was moving to Chicago. (I suppose a couple of other things influenced my decision.)

It wasn’t an easy transition after the “I’m going to move!” honeymoon phase ended. I remember being scared about so many things: Would I have any friends? Would I get cast in anything? Will I be able to afford my rent? How do I even get an apartment? We’ll save Long story short, it all worked out. (A lot of credit goes to my family and other kind souls…we’ll save that for a future post 🙂 )

Fast forward seven years and two weeks:

I was taking a walk. It was another beautiful night. I usually don’t take walks at night, but I needed to get out of my apartment for a bit. I was stressed. I felt behind on my goals. I was about to enter hell week for my workout program (check #TonyDoesHell week for updates!) and wasn’t looking forward to it. And we won’t even get into the confidence issues I was having that night.

Then I saw a little guy. A little guy I hadn’t seen in seven years….

bunny.jpg

Same actual bunny from that day

Okay I’m totally kidding. There’s no way it was the same one.

But I did see another bunny rabbit. And I thought back to my first day visiting Chicago and realized what I have been missing: I’ve overcame a lot to get to where I am. Now I’m living in my own apartment, paying my own bills, have an agent, and am auditioning for projects that make me stupid excited just to show up for. In comparison to where I started, I realized this: I am successful.

It’s easy to get weighed down by everything that life does. I think it’s even easier to forget how far we’ve come and all the good things are happening because it’s so freaking simple to focus on the negatives.

I hope you’ll join me in continuing to seek the good things that are right in front of us. I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Let’s go get ‘em, friends.

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Thanks for reading!

By the way, I’m Tony. I live in Chicago. (Duh.) I’m an actor and blogger living right up the street from Wrigley Field. 

My blog is here to help others take control and live a more authentically positive life on their terms. Since working with a coach and learning more about personal development, I’ve started sharing my learnings with others. (I have a lot…)

If we’ve never meet – shoot me a tweet!  Would love to hear how you found this 🙂 

Wanna see more? Check out my actor website or YouTube channel!

Wanna make sure you never miss a post? Click the “Follow” button in the right corner to enter your email and subscribe! 

There’s nothing wrong with you. You don’t need fixing. But this might help…

I saw another friend yesterday post about how they were struggling with self esteem.

Automatically, I found myself furiously typing. “Here’s how I used to feel. Here’s how I feel now. Here are three things I recommend. And here are some ways to flip your perspective….”

I stopped.

Will this even matter? Will they actually listen to me? Who the hell am I to help this person? And how can I share this with them so that they take my advice, rather than dismiss it? 

I have this inner dialogue every time I see a friend share that they’re in pain. I hope someday to have a better way of helping them.

If I could share a message today for anyone – friend or other – who might be struggling with self esteem, this is what it would say:

At the risk of sounding like a broken record….

There’s nothing wrong with you. You don’t need fixing. You are not broken. You just suffer with incessant negative chatter. You’ve bought into one of the bullshit beliefs, like that other people’s opinions of you get to dictate your self confidence. Or that your resume dictates your self worth. 

I know the feeling. I’ve suffered it a lot. In fact, I still do. 

I don’t want you to suffer anymore. I hope you take the time to start reading personal development books, working with a life coach, and finding more positive people to spend time with that already have the confidence you desire. Do it. You can’t afford not to. And if you can’t do it for you – do it for someone you love. Someone you can’t bear to be in pain. You can help them by starting with yourself. 

Finally….stop taking yourself so damn seriously 🙂 Most of our problems go away in a day, a week, or a couple months. We find new problems. Don’t worry. This problem will go away and that future one will too. 

And when you forget all of this because you’re a normal human being who forgets stuff – no sweat. Just hit the reset button. Being perfect is s waste of time and energy, anyway.

I love you guys. 

 

I really do.

 

Let’s go get ’em.

 

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Thanks for reading!

By the way, I’m Tony. I live in Chicago. (Duh.) I’m an actor and blogger living right up the street from Wrigley Field. 

My blog is here to help others take control and live a more authentically positive life on their terms. Since working with a coach and learning more about personal development, I’ve started sharing my learnings with others. (I have a lot…)

If we’ve never meet – shoot me a tweet!  Would love to hear how you found this 🙂 

Wanna see more? Check out my actor website or YouTube channel!

Wanna make sure you never miss a post? Click the “Follow” button in the right corner to enter your email and subscribe! 

An interview. With me.

GUESS WHAT YOU GUYS?

“Tony. Stop shouting.”

Sorry Fred.

I’m going to be speaking as part of “Homeset!” this coming Saturday!

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“The thought behind the series is simple – artists flourish when they are in conversation with one another, and experiencing and examining one another’s work — especially in times of social and political unrest. It propels our aesthetic and understanding farther forward, and stokes the fire of active engagement.” (Quote source here) 

 

Below is a Q&A with me and Denise. I wanted to share this here because the themes I’ll be speaking about Saturday go hand in hand with what I blog about. Thoughts? Tweet me! 

Denise: What inspired this piece?

Me: Before I realized I loved talking to others about personal development themes, I was involved in network marketing for three years….and I failed a lot. There were a plethora of embarrassment, but with it came valuable lessons. I learned a lot about branding and content, and it’s actually what led me to start doing #SundayVideos on facebook live every week. Those messages were a big inspiration for the work I’ve started sharing in person – like what we’re doing here tonight!

What really inspired me to start sharing positive messages has been a four year journey where I keep finding more and more ways to see tedious life challenges in a more empowering way. Once I discovered how much happier this made me, I couldn’t not share it with others!

Denise: Has anything you’ve learned recently surprised you?

Me: Since working with a life coach and consequently learning about the world of personal development, I just assumed that immersing myself in self help materials (books, blogs, podcasts, etc) were the way to go. But actually the past month has made me realize that a more proactive way to approach personal development is to a) get clear on what areas you want to specifically learn and grow in, and b) actually complete the exercises come up in the materials. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve skipped most parts where it involves actually completely exercises. I’m currently reading a new book with a lot of “write down this” sections – and I’m not skipping this time! So it’s been surprising to realize that after all this time where I thought I was an expert, I was really just an novice. I have a feeling that in another four years I’ll find myself in a similar boat.

Denise: What challenges you as a creator?

Me: Confession: Being a life coach and doing live workshops and talks has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. I’m grateful it’s happening! Yet…I’ve yet to get out of my own way when it comes to creating opportunities for my acting career. Putting on a show? Producing my own short film? This is where I’d normally tell others to stop listening to that gremlin voice saying, “You could never afford that,” or “That will take way too much time…”

I KNOW that’s not true! I’ve freaking done it before with raising money for non acting endeavors! I just get overwhelmed and then listen to all my doubts. So if anyone wants to give ME a motivational pep talk on this – let me have it. I’m a good listener.

Denise: What do you want to see more of?

Me: I want to see more of my peers celebrating the little things: Getting called back to that same casting house, regardless if they book. Getting seen by their favorite theatre company. Their first booking for a non union industrial. I want to start seeing more happiness and confidence before we’ve “made it.”

It’s easy to let our friends and family to dictate our success. Waiting for other people’s approval for achievement is a recipe for stress, anxiety, and a path to being miserable. Why? Because it’s out of our control!

Sure, there’s something to be said about setting high goals and measuring your progress. I just think that success is something younger people tend to “wait for,” and along with it sits our happiness and confidence. One of my mentors Dallas Travers says, “You can’t build on success you don’t acknowledge.” If we can’t be happy with the little wins – we’re just going to keep setting the bar for happiness higher and higher. So let’s start now, yeah?

Denise: What should folks know about what you’re bringing to HOME SET?

Me: That I’m loving this process of helping others – and that I’m doing it because I started learning this stuff because I needed it. Just because I’m “teaching” and sharing it doesn’t mean that I’m don’t need it myself. I very much do. The themes I talk about are usually the ones I need the most.

I find this usually is applicable to anyone teaching a skill to others. I used to get turned off because I thought teachers and motivational speakers were condescending. Then I started hearing some of them share that they’re also still not perfect with what they were sharing. It made them seem more human and more likable.

I want my peers who read, see and hear my work to know that I’m a constant work in progress.

“You are perfect, whole and complete – but you’re not finished.” –Preston Smiles.

 

Let’s go get ’em, friends.

 

Here are the deets! 

Pop Magic Productions invites you to HOMESET, a quarterly salon series bringing artists together to share ideas. Each HOMESET will give 3 artists space to showcase their works in progress, lesser practiced skills, and interests in a casual atmosphere.

The thought behind the series is simple – artists flourish when they are in conversation with one another, and experiencing and examining one another’s work — especially in times of social and political unrest. It propels our aesthetic and understanding farther forward, and stokes the fire of active engagement. 

In an effort to cultivate these nurturing spaces for artists, and in response to the need for more cross-exposure in the Chicago arts scene, HOME SET was put into action.
Join us in reactivating our community this winter. Connect with creatives whose interests and passions can bolster your artistic practice. Support the growth of Chicago’s independent art scene.

January 6th, 2018
Location: Secret Location in Uptown (You will receive the address
when you RSVP @ dime.io/events/homeset.

​The acts of the night are:
​Oratory by Tony Rossi
Arcana Obscura with Cassie Bowers
All The Happy Endings We Were Promised by Lucky Stiff
Music by Kathryn Lachey

Snacks & Drinks will be provided. You are also free to BYOB.

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Thanks for reading!

By the way, I’m Tony. I live in Chicago. (Duh.) I’m an actor and blogger living right up the street from Wrigley Field. 

My blog is here to help others take control and live a more authentically positive life on their terms. Since working with a coach and learning more about personal development, I’ve started sharing my learnings with others. (I have a lot…)

If we’ve never meet – shoot me a tweet!  Would love to hear how you found this 🙂 

Wanna see more? Check out my actor website or YouTube channel!

Wanna make sure you never miss a post? Click the “Follow” button in the right corner to enter your email and subscribe!