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It's a Brain Thing

Have you ever noticed what happens when you want to buy a car? You start looking thru magazines and newspapers, you walk outside and start looking at all the different cars on the road and you go to dealerships and take a few test drives. One day, you finally make your decision. As soon as you walk outside the door you are struck by how many of that very model of car is already on the road. "I never realized how many people out there are driving that car I want."

Sound familiar? It should, because it's a function of how our brain works. You see, our brain can only focus on 7-9 things at a time and the rest of the stuff becomes generalized and thrown in the background. The brain interprets whatever we focus our attention on as "the most immediate and important" and so the brain becomes hyper alert to that particular thing. In a phrase: Whatever we focus on gets bigger - we see more of it.

So what does this have to do with a career in the arts? Well, what would happen if you applied this principle to your career?

What are you "focusing" on in your life and career? Are you focusing on problems and what you don't have? Are you sitting with a bunch of other musicians or actors and bitching about how unfair the business is or how no matter what you do "it's all luck and no one ever gets a break?" Do you find examples of that unfairness everywhere you look? Are you surprised when something good happens and wonder how long it will last? We all know someone like this. In fact, we all may have a little of that in us. But there is an alternative.

What if you played another game? What if you started to focus right now on what is going right? What if you became opportunity focused? Instead of seeing problems as walls to stop you, look at them as opportunities to use your creativity on. What if instead of looking for how unfair things are, you started looking for ways to create your own luck? By doing this and focusing our attention in a positive direction, the brain will then begin to identify "that positive" as "most immediate and important." The brain will magically be on the lookout for "that positive" and we will begin to see more opportunities, possibilities and creative solutions to the very same situations that have held us back before.

Instead of looking for what is missing start looking for what you already have that you can capitalize on. Use some of that brilliant creativity artists all have and apply it to your business and life. Then, just watch and see how your results will improve!

This Month's Experiment:

1) Chose 1 problem that you are stuck on in either your career or your life and use that as your experiment.

2) Write down on a piece of paper everything you think about this situation. Make that list and get it out on paper.

3) Look at that list. Where is the focus? Where is your attention? Write that conclusion down. You may want to get some help from a friend or a coach to help you see where your focus is.

4) Now, with the awareness that you gained from #3, take the list you wrote and identify a positive alternative for each negative statement/focus. Use that positive alternative to replace the negative thought habits that you discovered above. For example, maybe you wrote "my script keeps getting rejected." Your positive alternative might be "I have an opportunity to use my creativity to find the right collaborators for this project and in the meantime, I have a list of contacts in an ever expanding network." ( -- isn't that more motivating than "no one will buy my script... the business is unfair... I will never get a break... am I good enough...etc..."?)

5) Practice this all month long. When you find yourself slipping back into an old habit, pull out that list and ask yourself, "How can I see this differently so it pushes me forward and sends me into action instead of stopping me?" (Hint - find a few people who are willing to play this new game with you. They will help keep you on track and can provide some helpful "positive alternatives" that you may not have thought of.)

6) See what happens!

Have a great month!

By Roger DeWitt, ACC

Roger DeWitt is Certified Life Coach specializing in working with performers and people in the arts. An expert in "the business of acting," he works with his clients to change the way they think about "the business" and their life. They move "up the ladder" faster and happier with better results. A specialist in procrastination and overwhelm, he also offers a complimentary e-course at Roger works with individual clients and groups and can be contacted through and
© 2004 - Roger DeWitt and Life Artistry Coaching (