How Actors Benefit From Embracing A Beginner’s Mindset

Mindset + Motivation

Turn inevitable moments of self-doubt and uncertainty at the start of something new into creative fuel with this simple mindset shift.

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embracing a beginner's mindset.

How often do you feel like a newbie? If the answer is a lot, don’t worry! I actually think that’s a good sign that you’re growing as an actor (or any type of creative person). But it can also be scary and confusing. By embracing a beginner’s mindset, you can turn that fear into fuel. 

Once you commit to a brand new project, start to learn a new skill or pivot in your career, you’re inevitably going to have moments of self-doubt and uncertainty. The trick isn’t to avoid these feelings but to acknowledge and work through them. 

That’s where the beginner’s mindset comes in handy!  And even seasoned actors can benefit from being a newbie once in a while.

embracing a beginner's mindset.

Growth doesn’t happen in your comfort zone.

Think about it: if you always do the same things over and over again, it’s true that you’ll probably make very few mistakes. But you’re also not moving forward either. 

It’s when we step out of our comfort zone (and into discomfort) that we’re able to make progress. And with that comes a few mistakes along the way. 

Being a beginner doesn’t always mean going back to square one though. You still bring all the skills and amazing qualities you possess to the table, but you also recognize that you don’t know what you don’t know. 

A beginner’s mindset is a mindset of openness. You’re willing to give it a try, to figure it out. To be curious and experiment. And the best part is: when you’re new, you’re free to make mistakes and take risks you might not have considered before. It can lead to some serious innovation and creative breakthroughs.

Think of some of your favorite acting performances. I guarantee you that in order to embody the characters, the actors had to let go of their fear, embrace uncertainty and dive into new accents, stunts, and emotional situations they’d never experienced before. 

I mean, we’re not on the hunt for a role we can phone in… we’re up for the challenge!

Embracing a beginner's mindset

Here are just a few examples of actors stepping out of their comfort zone:

Adrien Brody took extensive piano lessons to prepare for his Oscar-winning performance in the titular role of The Pianist

Reese Witherspoon was seriously anxious about acting alone in 2014’s WIld: “I hadn’t ever been alone in scenes for days and days. There were probably 25 days of the shoot where I had no other actor opposite me.”

Nicole Kidman struggled nailing Lucy Ricardo’s voice for last year’s Being the Ricardos: “It was terrifying! It was so out of my reach… and I was going, ‘Psssh, how am I going to pull this off?’” 

And even me! I recently decided to explore audiobook narration, and even though I’ve been acting for years, I still have moments of judgment where I think, “I’m an actor, I’ve done plenty of VO work… WTF, I should be better at this already!”  

But once I remembered that I’m just a newbie right now, and what that time period looks like, I was able to shift my mindset and start having more fun learning how to transition to something new creatively. 

Actors embrace a beginner's mindset all the time.

Now, if you’re a bit of a control freak, it might be super difficult to let go, so here are a few quick tips to help you embrace a beginner’s mindset.

Tell Your Inner Critic To Split

As adults, we are usually our harshest critics. We set way-too-high expectations to prove our worth to ourselves (or some imaginary jury of our peers). Then when we don’t meet the bar, the negative talk starts to flow. So remember to be gentle with yourself as you’re taking baby steps into new endeavors and opportunities.

Remember that you’re not supposed to know everything at this stage. Remind yourself where you’re at — the beginning, and it is OK to have no clue what you’re doing.

Anytime you realize how much you don’t know, it can be really f-ing hard! So take comfort in the fact that everyone begins here, with everything we do. It will get better as you move through it.

Practice, Practice, Practice. 

So how do you put a beginner’s mindset into action? Just like learning your lines, or a choreography or recording a self-tape — practice makes perfect! Create routines and rituals that will help you stay consistent and move forward faster.

Just like with any goal, break it down into smaller, more manageable components and determine your milestones. Then create a schedule for yourself, so you’re dedicating time each day toward learning and experimenting. 

Pick a few favorite mantras to repeat when you notice your inner critic making noise in your head. I also recommend trying meditation and journaling to reflect on this unique time in your life. You may even discover it brings gifts or ah-ha moments you didn’t expect. Be sure to reward yourself for both your big and small victories. Celebrating your progress is an important element to continued success.

Embracing a beginner's mindset means making mistakes, and that's OK.

Seek Out A Mentor or Coach

You don’t think Adrien Brody sat down at a piano for the first time and immediately played like a concert musician, do you? And Nicole Kidman has been working with dialect coach Thom Jones for years to perfect her voice for films like The Hours

Working with a coach, mentor or teacher is a nice (and sometimes essential) way to begin anything new. 😉 It can make the process of embracing a beginner’s mindset more fun and open you up to new ideas you didn’t see before. Plus, it helps you move farther faster with sometimes less effort involved. Your mentor is creating the plan, so you can focus your energy on putting it into action!

The best part is that investing in professional guidance forces you to be accountable. You’re required to dedicate time to specific exercises and action steps and check-in with your coach, so it’s harder to flake when you’re frustrated or you hit a setback.

Like any relationship, working with a coach is similar to dating; you want to find someone you respect and click with to be your cheerleader and give you tough love when you need it. And you have a guaranteed platform to ask questions and get clarity around your vision. Being a beginner means you don’t know, so ask someone who does.

Remember To Enjoy The Process

Commit to the learning rather than the goal at the end. Goals are important and have their place, but they are just destinations, stops along the way. There is a misconception that if you cannot learn and excel at everything within your goal (being the best business owner ever, or a flawless dancer, or an acclaimed actor, etc.) then it’s not worth even trying.

Forget that! There is SO much joy to be found in the journey, and many lessons about yourself to glean along the way. The work is where it’s at!

And like I’ve said before, finding the joy in life, outside of your work, is essential to a healthy mind, body and spirit. When you’re a well-rounded, fulfilled human, it can only enhance your acting too!

How do you embrace a beginner’s mindset? What new skills or projects are you diving into this quarter? Let me know in the comments below.

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I'm Moniqua, your new let's-get-real friend.

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A Real Food Devotee + Self Care Connoisseur + Jedi Mindset Master dedicated to helping you elevate your health, your life—and your career.

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Health Coach + Confidence Curator + Wellness Expert
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