“The work is to find the joy in the every day. And that means the victory is in staying in. The victory is I didn’t pack it in and say it’s too hard. I may have taken a break, but I’m coming back. And I’m coming back stronger.” — Bonnie Gillespie
This episode is part of Season 5, a short series where I share conversations I’ve had with my heroes and role models. My hope in sharing these conversations is that you’ll pick up something that inspires and motivates you. More importantly, I hope these chats move you to sit down and have similar chats with your role models and heroes.
One of the books that I devoured cover to cover was written by my guest today. Funnily enough, it is also the book that I would never have thought I would ever have a need to read. It’s called Self Management For Actors. I’m not an actor and had never dreamt of being one. And yet this book, is one of the best books I’ve ever read about managing ourselves and our careers.
After reading that book, I wanted to know all about the author. Fortunately for us, we now live in a world where we can follow our heroes and the people we admire the most and learn from them from afar.
Bonnie Gillespie has been working in the film industry for decades, both in front of the camera (earlier on in her career) and then later, as a casting director. In addition, she has been helping fellow actors by demystifying the casting process and illuminating the business side of pursuing a creative career.
She writes, coaches, and teaches on enoughness and cultivating an empowering mindset for our chosen journey. Bonnie has been featured on Good Morning America, BBC, Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, among others.
For me, Bonnie is the epitome of a woman who is comfortable in her own skin, someone who continuously stretches herself and graciously shares her journey. I definitely consider her one of my role models. And I’m beyond thrilled she was game to come to the show.
We covered many things in this interview. But two things I truly appreciated were (1) the bits about rejection, which is my personal life’s work, and (2) the bits about enoughness, which is, in a way, related to rejection.
Bonnie and I also talked about how she maintains positivity, how she uses compartmentalization, focusing on the right results when measuring success, and the importance of celebrating every step of the way.
Links From the Episode:
Here are a few highlights from our conversation:
I’m not going to take a survival job that turns out to be golden handcuffs.
Actors are interesting critters. We choose a job with no rules. And then we want to know the rules. I get that. We don’t want to color outside the lines unless we know where the lines are.
Following your passion, discovering what it is that lights you up, these are wonderful goals because it means that you are going to be more aligned with what it is that you do every day. But even in following your passion, there are going to be some days there that are just hard. There’s going to be work. Like it’s not rainbow-pooping unicorns every minute of every day. Your passion can also involve a lot of struggle and a lot of stress.
If we’re not finding joy in the every day, it’s not like suddenly we’re going to reach that benchmark and go, finally, I can be happy. If we were miserable the whole road, there’s not a place we get where suddenly we get to be happy because we’re too practiced at being miserable.
The work is to find joy in the everyday. And that means the victory is staying in it. The victory is I didn’t go home. I didn’t pack it in and say, this is too hard. Or I did say today is too hard, so I’m taking a break. But we took a break, not had a breakdown. Or even if we did have a breakdown, we know we’re doing this so we can rebuild and come back stronger.
I have always been good at measuring against the “past me” as opposed to measuring to outsiders. Because, different lives, different experiences, you can’t compare. But a lot of people do. I have been very good about always just comparing to where was I last year and have I made progress from that point.
I’m so looking forward to what I will learn about my process, having those outside goals. But not making those outside goals the thing that measures success or failure. I think that’s the big trick for me.
I have choices and the choices have consequences. And I’m going to choose joy more often. I’m going to choose kindness more often. I’m going to choose to believe in the good in people more often. I don’t serve the world by getting bogged down in the pain or the stress, or the struggle.
There was this moment in the not so distant past where I had to work when I wanted to stay in bed. I wanted to stay in bed in the fetal position crying because I was so devastated by things that were going on in the world. And I said, what kind of leader do I want to be? I wrote it on a little post-it note and put on my laptop next to the little webcam. What kind of leader do I want to be? And I realized my work is to show up. To be there for my clients who also don’t want to get out of bed today, who also want to just cry and give up. And they are going to be looking to me for what do we do with this pain. And my work is to make sure that those artists can put that pain into their work and create change,
I stay positive by reminding myself constantly, our work is important. Our work matters. Artists matter. The voice of art is a healing voice. That there’s a big responsibility here, and I don’t take that lightly.
If you’ve chosen any kind of career that is other than working in a cubicle at a desk for someone else for 40 plus hours a week, you are a leader. You’ve chosen a life of leadership because you are doing something different than what most of the population chooses to do.
It’s not that I lack confidence or have low self-esteem. It’s that I’m just less practiced in this area. And so I start to look at well, how do I become more practiced at succeeding in an area that I haven’t gone into yet?
For me, enoughness is something that we are constantly buoying ourselves by the things that we choose to surround ourselves with, and the people we choose to surround ourselves with. And most importantly, the thoughts that we choose to surround ourselves with.
Whether you see it as confidence or something that you have to kind of borrow from a different place in your life or just a state of knowing — I’m going to be okay, no matter what happens, I am enough. There’s not any amount of things that I need to do to prove that I’m enough. Not any amount of work that has to exist to prove I’m enough. Not a certain amount of money in the bank that proves I’m enough. It’s just my knowing.