Here’s another in the on-going series of posts from Bob Fraser that I’ve been featuring.
THE TRUTH ABOUT INSPIRATION
by Bob Fraser
In our little part of the business world we hear the word inspiration a lot. “His performance was inspired.” “Her voice inspired a generation.” Not to mention the claims of inspiration we lay claim to, when we relate our own successes … or once in awhile our qualified failures – which the French call “success d’estime.” (Please don’t write in about spelling, I don’t really know a lick of French.)
My humble opinion (LOL) is that there are many mistaken notions about the entire concept of inspiration and what it means to those of us who ply our trade on “the boards.”
For instance, there are those actors who don’t believe in inspiration at all. Who think that everything we do is a function of methodology, rules and plotted out behaviors. Not to put too fine a point on it … they are just wrong.
Or those of us who think that inspiration will come out of the blue, like a bolt of lightning, a falling Granny Smith, or a brilliant performance by Pauly Shore. They are also mistaken.
Most at risk are those folks who believe that inspiration is a gift from God. They are almost right – but generally use their belief as an excuse to skip over the most important part.
THE GIFT MUST BE OPENED
No matter who (and let’s not discuss the various Entities who might be the benefactor to our muse) gives us the gift of inspiration, it is important to recognize that it is a gift. And, as with all gifts, inspiration must be unwrapped, opened and used – for it to have any impact on our actual results.
Like a set of golf clubs, a food processor or an exercise bicycle, your inspiration won’t help you at all – if it’s left in the box it came in, and never used.
Here’s where many of us ‘come a cropper.’ We are often inspired to write the great American screenplay, but somehow never manage to sit down and start typing. Oh, we can tell you about our “great idea” until the cows come home – but pages are not forthcoming. Those of us who act, too, are subject to this ‘slothful’ phenomenon.
One week we are a flurry of crazed activity, doing all we can to pursue our dream of performing success. But the next week we vegetate in front of the idiot box (pick your poison … TV, Playstation, or computer), or we waste time at parties filled with other actors, like ourselves, who are doing their best to remain calm, collected and – above all – cool. Oh, we will hear a lot of “balloon juice” at these conventions, which generally never helps our forward progress an iota.
There is just no question that we all get inspired, it’s true. Almost constantly, in fact. But we, invariably, forget the dictum of Thomas Edison (who was probably not the first to say it):
“Success is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration.”
The truth is that too many of us have a half-right, totally wrong or grotesquely twisted vision of inspiration – which is why we often expect it to do more than it’s required (and limited) 5%.
Worse, because of our less than perfect understanding of this phenomenon, called inspiration, we generally don’t even bother to find out how to use it. Believe me, inspiration must be USED – to have any value at all.
So how to use inspiration?
It’s my deeply held conviction that you must use it to encourage yourself – to convince yourself – to exhort yourself – to compel yourself – to shame yourself if necessary – into DOING the other 95%.
In other words, it’s in the DOING of the 95% where inspiration shines. DOING always results in something real, something concrete, something special, something useful – in other words, something worthwhile. Even failing at what you DO, has great lessons to impart.
If you don’t believe in inspiration at all, or you totally depend on it for forward motion, or you think that it is the “be all and end all” – then take my word for it, inspiration is as useless to you as a Christmas fruitcake from my Aunt Imelda.
My advice? Get inspired – but then get sweaty, too. It’s the only way to enjoy our precious gift.
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