Look at Any Job or Opportunity as a Stepping Stone to the Next
"There are no small parts, only small actors."
This is one of the oldest theater quotes around, speaking to the idea that not only is everyone important and integral to the process but that we must take pride in the role no matter its size or scope. While this is so true for the one just starting out and getting their feet wet in the world, it may be even more true for the veteran who is taking a "step backward" or transitioning to a new phase of their career.
I have been at both points when it comes performing, from one show where I was the lead, starring role to the next where I was in the back line just trying to keep up with the choreography. The trajectory of most actors is not the A-list, where you can call your own shots and pretty much have whatever role you want. It is a literal competition in getting cast for every show, knowing that most of the time I won't get the part. But when deciding what to audition for or offers to accept, there is often much more at play for me to consider than just the size of the role or pay. There is the creative team or theater location or just earning more work weeks to qualify for health insurance through the union.
All of these decisions can lead to further opportunities like working with that director again or adding new depth and dimension to my resume. Nowadays, careers are not often straight lines up the corporate or theater ladder. They are stepping stones and wandering paths of dead-ends and opportunities, and it's up to us to figure out which is which.
Four common ways you may be standing in the way of your personal growth.
Before launching Microsoft, Bill Gates was a Harvard University dropout and co-owner of a failed business called Traf-O-Data. As Paul Allen relates in a Newsweek piece, "Traf-O-Data was a good idea with a flawed business model. It hadn't occurred to us to do any market research, and we had no idea how hard it would be to get capital commitments...
I had been in New York for two years, and wasn't getting any auditions. I thought maybe I needed a change in representation in order to be sent out more. I had a meeting with a talent manager - I performed a monologue, and chatted with him for a bit about my type and brand. I felt good about my...