I am very much inspired by Simon Sinek’s new book, The Infinite Game. I’ve spent the past week or two noodling on how to take the principles he lays out for corporate America and apply it to show business.
First, some helpful definitions.
Simon’s definition of playing a finite game is focusing on achievement, aka making things about winning or losing.
An infinite game, on the other hand, is making moves toward the advancement of your Just Cause.
A Just Cause is “a specific version of a future state that does not yet exist; a future state so appealing that people are willing to make sacrifices in order to help advance toward that vision.” A Just Cause is bigger than ourselves, and it has an open invitation for anyone who’d like to participate in spreading it’s message. Everyone likes to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves, and I know I’m particularly moved by the idea of working together to promote a more inclusive version of our world, city, society, schools, stages, etc.
Ok now that we know that, let’s dive in.
Auditions: Finite vs. Infinite Mindsets.
A finite minded person is out to WIN the part. They view everyone else in the holding room as competition. They view each audition as transactional: a necessary action to move ahead to advance their career and climb the proverbial ladder of success. People are only important if they can help them win. And, most likely, once this person does win this part, they will fulfill the duties of the job without contributing any more than they are contractually obligated.
An infinite minded person shows up for auditions knowing that performing is simply one of the ways in which they can advance their Just Cause. They patiently wait their turn in the holding room while genuinely wishing others good luck. They might even offer to run lines or read sides with the auditioners around them. As the infinite minded individual walks into the room, they are excited for the chance to perform, to share their joy and lift others up, even if it’s only for the three people behind the table. They offer up their performance, their work, as a gift for the people in the room. They, like Outward Bound, have decided to leave the field better than they had found it for the people who’ll come after them.
Within an infinite mindset, an individual doesn’t WIN a part, they are AWARDED an opportunity. The part is a token of recognition for this person’s commitment and service toward advancing art as an art form. They are AWARDED the opportunity because they showed up to serve the art, serve the craft, so that they can advance the positive impact of the arts to others.
WINNING the part makes auditions and bookings all about the individual, aka all about ME. Being AWARDED the part makes it all about contributing to society and serving others. If you’ve ever felt guilty pursuing a performance career because someone has told you it’s a “selfish” profession, consider adopting an infinite mindset. “No, Aunt Sue, I am not *selfish* for pursuing a performance career. I am performing so that I can spread the message of my Just Cause far and wide. I am committed to working together with my artistic community to advance this mission, and I will not rest until I do.”
How’s THAT for a Thanksgiving comeback?!
When you shift your view of an offer to see it as an AWARD, you might find yourself feeling more appreciative of any and all opportunities to share the joy art brings you no matter the medium. You might find yourself showing up with more generosity to the people and the processes with which you’re involved because you’re motivated by the bigger picture. You might even find yourself volunteering to work within the communities you find yourself to spread the arts to as many people as possible.
I wonder: how can we work together to adopt a more supportive, more positive, more generous mindset to better serve our artistic community? If our community shows up for itself during audition season, our community will be better prepared to serve the cities across America in which we find ourselves performing this year. Instead of feeling depleted at the end of audition season, we can feel energized. Instead of feeling alone, we can feel part of something. We can recommit to a sense of purpose to change the world through the stories we tell.
Audition season is right around the 2020 corner. How will you show up?