I hope these holidays have been a blessed time for you and your family.
We are so truly blessed, aren’t we?
Speaking of blessed, over the last four months I’ve had the honor of sharing some of my ideas, thoughts, and core beliefs through these newsletters.
Today’s newsletter is my thank you present to each and every one of you for taking the time to read these and especially for sharing your thoughts and reactions with me.
Although some of you have been on board from the very first newsletter, most of you have joined along the way – which means you’ve missed several. So my present is I’ve compiled all of them in order in case you missed some over our last 16 weeks together.
I tried to create a PDF and insert that file to make it easy for you to read but I couldn’t figure that out, so instead I cut and pasted them below.
If you’d like a PDF version just email me and I’d be happy to forward it along.
A favor – please share these with anyone and everyone you feel would appreciate them and please send them HERE to sign up for all future newsletters.
As always, I’d love to hear any reactions from you on our closed Facebook page (my favorite part of doing this is hearing from you btw!).
Most of all, thank you for your support and my hope and prayer is that each and everyone of us continues to get healthier and more free with all of our dreams, passions, and callings.
This world truly does need us – each and every one of us.
My love and best, Jim
ARTISTIC FAMILY NEWSLETTER TOPICS
- Who Were Your Greatest Teachers?
- The Curse of Being a Perfectionist in Art
- How do you deal with criticism?
- “I should have done more”
- The Most Important Question an Actor Can Ask Themselves
- How’s Your Dream Doing?
- What is your biggest fear?
- The key to hits are at bats
- Who changed your life?
- The #1 regret for most people
- How can you change this world?
- A life-changing epiphany
- The single most important thing to having your dreams come true
- Answer these two questions
- The world’s greatest lie
1. Who Were Your Greatest Teachers?
Happy Sunday! I’m just about to finish off my summer break and reopen our school and so blessed to be “back home” in Sun Valley, Idaho. And I’m even more grateful to be here with my daughter.
What are you grateful for today?
Recently one of my great teachers and heroes, Wayne Dyer, passed away at the age of seventy-five. Much too young yet a beautiful life well lived.
He was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2009 and chose an extremely unconventional treatment. Skeptics would say his approach didn’t work and in the end, cost him years off his life. He would say (and did) it gave him many years of quality of life and he had no regrets.
I don’t want to debate the merits of traditional vs. non-traditional approaches to fighting Leukemia and Cancer. In fact, I wouldn’t ever want to debate it as I believe it’s an extremely personal choice and there’s no right answer. In fact, one of the great principles of Sanford Meisner and the Meisner Technique is, “Trust your gut and follow your heart” and never, in my opinion, has this wonderful advice been more true to follow then when dealing with something like this. ??All I want to do today is honor this brilliant teacher for all he gave me and my career as an actor.
About twelve years ago I went through a very difficult time in my life both personally and professionally. I was dowwwwwwwwn and struggling to get up. My mom (my other hero!) gave me a book by Wayne Dyer called, “The Power Of Intention”. It was lot of information I’d been exposed to and believed in yet somehow his writings resonated in a much deeper way and had a profound impact on me. And the more I read the more I wanted to read.
I finally bought the CD’s of the book and listened to them constantly. And because of all the stress and chaos inside of me I had trouble sleeping so listening to him in the middle of night became a beautiful gift and routine.
Soon the depression and fear that “this would never end” began to lift. There were many contributing factors besides his books and CD’s (I bought them all) to my “comeback” but he was the cornerstone for sure. And I will be forever grateful.
I’m thankful to say that these days my life and career are extremely blessed – certainly not without problems and setbacks but my resiliency is solid as is my artistic health (something I’m going to talk a lot about in these newsletters). And one of the main reasons is because of this beautiful teacher of mine. Thank you, Wayne Dyer for everything.
Who and where do you go when you need talented balance and perspective? Maybe today is a good day for a check in because being an actor, artist, dreamer can be very “scary” and THE key is balance. Perspective.
And the other key is not waiting till we’re already drowning to ask for help.
I’d love to hear your feedback so let me know what you think by joining our Artistic Family Facebook page. This is a private group and a wonderful opportunity to get and give help to others and for all of you to share your thoughts, ideas and comments with each other and with me. Sign up here:
And remember now that you’re a part of our Artistic Family join us for our next Webinar (free to you!) on Saturday, October 3rd, 10:00am PST.
I look forward to spending time with you next week.
Until then, my very best, Jim
2. The Curse of Being a Perfectionist in Art
Happy Sunday to you!
I just spent the most beautiful weekend with my four sisters at a beach house on the coast. We get together once a year with no partners, spouses or kids to celebrate my mom who passed away four years ago. I am so grateful for such a beautiful weekend.
What are you grateful for on this Sunday morning?
So we reopened our school this week after a two and a half month break (grateful for that too!) and something very interesting happened in the new beginning class. A student quit after the very first night.
I could see him quitting right before my eyes in the middle of the class.
What happened was this: when I called him up to work for the very first time, he struggled trying to do the first step of the Meisner Technique. It’s a very basic first step but many people struggle. In fact, many people that night struggled, but he didn’t see that. All he saw was that he struggled and the more he struggled the more he struggled.
I addressed it right away but more to the room because he wasn’t the first person that night who beat themselves up for “not getting it right away.” I taught the importance of being a healthy, kind-hearted “learner” – someone who can celebrate the growing pains of learning something new and actually enjoy the stumbles because they’ll lead to growth.
I quoted Sanford Meisner’s wonderful teaching on this, “Mistakes are good. Mistakes are how we grow. Fall down. Screw up. Todays manure is tomorrow’s masterpiece!”
But I could see when he sat down he was defeated. And we hadn’t even begun to get into the work.
At the end of class I called him over and asked what was going on. He said, “This isn’t for me.” I asked, “What isn’t for you?” He then said something very truthful and very sad, “I don’t like making mistakes, especially in front of other people and I can tell I’m going to be making a lot of mistakes.”
I tried to encourage him and give him healthy balance and perspective but again, I could see he was already emotionally out the door. I asked him to think about it and give me a call the next day with his decision.
The next morning he called to say goodbye.
What happened to him/for him is something I’ve seen many times over the years – the curse of perfectionism. The curse of “If I can’t do it well and quickly, no thanks!”
Being a perfectionist has many wonderful attributes, but when trying something new – especially something elusive and ethereal like being an actor (or any art form) – it is a curse.
To be a student of acting in a legitimate acting class requires tremendous humility, vulnerability, freedom and courage.
You must be able to not take the teachings personally.You must be willing to embrace “screwing up” and not have that define you.
You must be comfortable not being perfect.
What kind of “learner” are you?
After a quarter century of teaching, I’ve come to believe that if you’re an artist of any kind, a dreamer of any kind, you must tame the beast of perfectionism. Otherwise, you’ll never enjoy the journey because no true artist is ever truly satisfied. You never conquer your art. You simply continue to grow into yourself and for that you must be wide open and willing to suck. A lot!
Thanks for taking the time to be with me today and I’ll see you next week.
My very best, Jim
3. How do you deal with criticism?
Happy Sunday to you!
I spent yesterday driving the coast and was so grateful all day long to live in such an amazing place like Northern California. The coast highway was stunning!
What are you grateful for on this beautiful morning?
So last week’s newsletter on the topic of being a perfectionist clearly struck a chord with a lot of you. In fact, it generated the most feedback and response of any newsletter to date so we’ll be coming back to this topic, I’m sure of it.
Today I’d like to talk about dealing with criticism as an actor/artist/dreamer.
First of all, let me say it isn’t easy being criticized. It STINGS, especially when it’s done in a very public forum, but if you’re really going to go after this then here’s a fact: the louder you get, the more successful you get, the more criticism you’re going to have to deal with.
I remember the first negative review I ever received for my one-man show, Vincent. I’d already been touring it for years and up to that point all my reviews had been extremely positive. So when this negative one came out it was a blow and it took me (and my ego) quite awhile to get rid of the “sting.”
What helped me greatly was remembering something Sanford Meisner had taught me many years before. He said, “If you’re going to believe the good reviews from complete strangers then you have to believe the bad ones, too. And for what it’s worth, both are unhealthy to believe in unless you value and respect the opinion of the critic. Consider the source because everyone’s a critic. Everyone thinks they too could be an actor, so people will be very free about their opinions of your work. I say screw ‘em. Screw your critics. In the history of mankind no one’s ever erected a statue to a critic. You just have to know you did the best you could. Figure out what you learned, forgive yourself, and go again.”
Sandy’s not saying all criticism is bad. He IS saying consider the source, and if you value and respect that person’s opinion, then listen to what they have to say. If not, then don’t waste a second taking on their beliefs about you, your talent, and your dreams.
Years ago while I was living in Sun Valley, Idaho, the Dali Lama was coming for three days of teachings and talks. My ex-wife and I were part of the committee to plan his visit because we were practicing Buddhists in a town with hardly any.
At the very first meeting we were sitting on a sofa with another committee member when my ex turned to her and said, “Isn’t this exciting?!” The woman curtly replied, “Isn’t what exciting?” “The Dali Lama’s visit.” This woman then said something that has been one THE greatest gifts I’ve ever received on the topic of dealing with criticism. She said, “I don’t know what all the excitement’s about. He’s just coming here to sell a bunch of books.”
I was stunned. This lady was criticizing the Dali Lama for being a greedy opportunist!
And in that moment I realized Sandy was so right, everyone’s a critic. So consider the source!
What beautiful advice for all of us actors/artists/dreamers because the criticism probably started the second we told people we wanted to be an actor. And that really stung because it often came from people closest to us – our family and friends.
How do you deal with any form of criticism toward your work as an actor and your dream of being one (especially when dealing with that unhealthy critic/perfectionist inside all of us)?
I say consider the source.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions so please post them on our private Artistic Family Facebook page. Until then, thank you for spending another Sunday with me.
My very best to you, Jim
4. “I should have done more”
Good morning and happy Sunday,
For forty years my father and I had incredible 49ers season tickets.
When the 49ers moved to Santa Clara last year, we were given the chance to move with them and keep our seats. The asking price for what’s called “a personal licensing fee” (short for “Our fans will pay to build this ridiculous stadium not us”) was $60,000 per seat. I’m not kidding.
We said no.
I’m so incredibly grateful on this beautiful Sunday morning that I didn’t purchase those seats and I don’t have to go watch this horrible team play!
What are you incredibly grateful for today?
So the other night I went to dinner with my sister and her husband. We were joined by some of their friends as well.
Before I explain what happened next, it’s important for you to know that my sister and her husband are not only very wealthy, they are two of the most generous, giving people I have ever met. They have multiple foundations, endowments, scholarships, charities, and causes that they support year after year. They both sit on a myriad of boards and give hour upon hour to those in need.
What I’m saying is they give a lot to help make this world a better place.
It’s within this context that I share what happened next at the dinner table.
The conversation soon turned to the state of the affairs our country and the world is in and “what can be done about it.” My brother-in-law then said something that really shook me. He said, “Remember at the end of the movie Schindler’s List when Schindler says, ‘I should have done more’ (and this is after all he’s done and sacrificed to help these people). That’s how I feel. That’s how I think we’re all going to feel at the end of our lives. I should have done more.”
Again, this is a man and a couple who give tirelessly all the time.
Man, this hit me hard. Not because I’m not doing anything to try and help make this world a better place. I actually became an actor 28 years ago for this very reason and all these years later, I know I’m helping many people through my films, plays, children’s shows and teaching.
No, his comment hit me hard because I think he’s right. I think no matter how much we give and do to serve and help, we can always do more. And in the end, we’ll wish we had.
And I don’t mean laying some guilt trip on ourselves over it or becoming obsessive about it, “I need to do more. I’m not doing enough!” I mean in a healthy way asking ourselves, “Is there something else I can be doing to help this situation, this cause, this person?”
Many of us are spread so thin it feels like we don’t have the time or energy to give anything to anyone.
I get it. I’m spread pretty thin myself these days.
And forget giving money away. That feels impossible for most of us. Instead we say to ourselves, “I’ll start giving some money away when I get more of it first.”
Again, I get it, but what would happen if instead of giving away lots of money and lots of time and lots of energy, we chose instead to give away lots of kindness? That’s free, right? We don’t need lots of time, energy, and money to be nicer to people.
In fact, it doesn’t cost a thing to help someone put their luggage in the overhead bin as they get on the airplane.
It doesn’t cost a thing to say hello to every person we pass as we walk down the street.
It doesn’t cost a thing to let someone into our lane while driving or not tailgate them once they do.
Being kinder really would change everything.
Try it today. Try being kinder to everyone in every situation and see what happens. For one day, be able to answer “No” to this question: “Could I have done more today to help this world by being kinder.”
I look forward to your thoughts and feedback so please if you haven’t yet joined our Artistic Family Facebook page (it’s a closed, private group btw) then please do. And if you already have then I’d love to hear from you.
WEBINAR UPDATE Our Q&A Webinar was a HUGE success. We had dozens of you there with lots of wonderful questions so thanks to all who were able to participate! And for those who couldn’t attend, we recorded the whole thing and we’ll be sending you a link soon.
I’ll see you next Sunday so until then my best,
5. The Most Important Question an Actor Can Ask Themselves
Good morning and happy Sunday to you.
I am so grateful because I got to spend the weekend with my daughter! What are you grateful for on this beautiful Sunday?
So, I want to talk about what Sanford Meisner said is THE single most important question you’ll ever ask yourself in pursuit of being an actor.
Why are you doing this? Why do you really want to be an actor?
Sandy went on to say, “There’s no right answer, but it is very important to be clear because the clearer you are, the clearer you’ll be as to what to do next.”
This question has been on my mind because last week I went down to LA for some meetings – the type of meetings I’ve spent twenty-eight years creating and earning so a very cool trip.
As I flew back I kept thinking about this question and I was so grateful that I’m clear about my answer. That clarity has guided every decision I’ve made about my career all these years later. I’ve been able to make a beautiful living and on my terms and one of the main reasons is because I’ve been crystal clear on why I’m doing this.
I became an actor because I wanted a voice for the things I was passionate about. I wanted to say some things that I hoped would help people, shake people, move people, and inspire people. And who knows, maybe even change some people and in so doing, make this world just a little better.
Why are you doing this?
For many people, this dream started when they were very young. They saw a movie or play and it all seemed so magical and something “clicked” inside and they “knew this was it!”
Or maybe they were in a play and all that energy from the audience – from the laughter to the applause – hooked them instantly and they also “knew!”
But “knew” what?
You see, there’s a very common perception that actors are starved for attention and that’s why they desire to be in front of people and that is why they’re really doing this. Sandy believed this perception was very common as well. He once said, “Most people doing this do not want to be actors. They want to be rich and famous so they can say to everybody back home, ‘See, I told you I was special.’”
Why do you want to be an actor? Is this really your dream? Or is it your fantasy to fill a big void inside of you?
Again there’s no right answer, but I have found people who are doing this for ego reasons verses healthy reasons usually quit pretty early on. And for those that stick around, they’re never happy unless they “make it big.” And for most, that break never happens so they’re miserable “going after their dream.”
Going after your dream should be fun! It should be exhilarating, intoxicating, and inspiring – even with all the struggles.
And if you’re an actor, there are going to be lots of struggles. There are just too many people who want work and not enough jobs, so it’s incredibly competitive. In fact, it’s been called the most competitive profession on the planet for good reason.
So to go after this you must be incredibly healthy and resilient to hang in there but I do know this – if you’re doing this to help and to serve then your career can be successful every time you get a chance to do that through your work.
I taught all week long and I know I helped a lot of people. Several of you reached out to me with questions about your careers and I got the chance to be of service. Dozens of you were part of our Q&A Webinar last Saturday and I had the honor of helping and serving there as well.
This is why I became an actor and this is why I wouldn’t trade my career with anyone. And although I am not rich and famous, I feel incredibly successful as an actor.
Why do you want to be an actor?
I’d love your feedback and reactions (in fact, this has become a favorite part of my week) so please share yourself with the rest of your Artistic Family on our private Facebook page and if you haven’t joined yet, get on it – Here’s the link:
Again, thank you for spending some time with me today. You are greatly appreciated!
My very best, Jim
6. How’s Your Dream Doing?
Every time I start these newsletters I try and take a moment to ground myself in what I’m truly grateful for. I don’t do this for effect or to have a “catchy way” of starting these off with you. I do it because it helps me get closer to my intention of why I’m even writing these newsletters – how grateful I am for the chance to serve and the honor of doing so.
I just finished reading the New York Times. It was full of news about suicide bombers, refugees struggling to survive, political scandals and on and on.
Sometimes I take for granted just how lucky I am and so on this beautiful Sunday morning I’m incredibly grateful and extremely humbled with how blessed my life truly is compared to most everyone else in the world.
What are you grateful for right now?
This has been very nostalgic week for me. It was a year ago this last week that I launched what was called, “the most unique, ambitious, and unconventional campaign in the history of Kickstarter.”
My goal was to raise $1.5 million dollars in thirty days for my film, Talk Is Cheap. Raising a lot of money for a project on Kickstarter is not so crazy or unique. What made my campaign sooooo unconventional was how I was going about it.
Talk Is Cheap is about the power of one person to make a difference in this world and what can happen when a bunch of “one persons” come together because then they can literally change the world.
Now most Kickstarter campaigns are all about getting as many people to donate as much as possible and the more they give the more they get.
I chose to do the exact opposite. Instead of going after a few people to give a lot, I created a Kickstarter campaign that mirrored the message of the film – the power of one person to make a difference. And so the only amount you could donate was $1 dollar.
This meant I needed to find 1.5 million people in thirty days to donate $1 dollar each.
Most everyone told me I was crazy. I remember thinking, “Yup, crazy like a fox.” You see, I was positive this was going to work. Not because I’m some genius but because when the idea to do it this way first came to me it hit me so hard, so deeply, so clearly that I “knew” this was going to be a success. I was positive of it.
For the next six months I worked 70-80 hours per week to get the campaign ready to launch. I had an incredible staff along with scores of volunteers to help and I hired one of the top PR firms in Hollywood to get it out to the world.
We launched on October 15th, 2014.
We were the lead story for major newspapers around the world and were the featured story for Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, and Good Morning America along with several others.
By the end of the day we were the top campaign trending on Kickstarter as well as the “Staff’s Top Picks.”
Thirty days later we raised a total of $26,089 dollars.
An epic, colossal failure.
I can’t begin to describe to you how bummed and stunned I was – not because I didn’t raise the money but because of how positive I was that it was going to happen.
And yet, in spite of all this, today’s newsletter is not about my Kickstarter campaign.
Today’s newsletter is about being an actor because if you’re an actor you have big dreams. And if you have big dreams, if you swing for the fences, if you pour your heart and soul into something and it doesn’t happen, how do you deal with that “failure?”
Today’s newsletter is about about the importance of being resilient if you’re an actor because you’re going to be dealing with a lot of “No’s.”
The great director Harold Clurman was once asked, “How do you produce a hit on Broadway?” His answer was pure gold, “The exact same way I produce a flop. You see, I pour everything into both. I work so thoughtfully, painstakingly, sincerely, and knowledgeably as I labor on any production. Yet for all that my efforts to bring about the hoped for results, it may be in vain. The magic doesn’t happen. I fail. It’s what I do next that’s critical. I learn everything I can from the experience, I forgive myself, and then I go again.”
For many people when life says “No” to them – whether it’s their dream, a job, a relationship – they not only take a step back, they stop moving forward.
They’re so crushed, so disappointed and defeated and disheartened that they quit.
Have you had to deal with a big “no” from life lately and more importantly how did you deal with it?
Resiliency. Mental toughness. Forgiveness.
These are the traits of dreamers who able to hang in there long enough to create their dreams.
How’s your dream doing? I would love to hear your feedback on our Artistic Family Facebook page so if you haven’t yet joined GO HERE.
And until next Sunday, I’m sending you my very best wishes that your wildest dreams are coming true and closer than ever because of your resiliency.
My very best, Jim
(If you’d like to check out the greatest failure (and gift) of my entire career GO HERE
7. What is your biggest fear?
Good morning. It’s Sunday which means I get to spend another day with you so I’m very grateful for that and what I’m most grateful for is your feedback so please feed back!
What are you grateful for on this beautiful morning?
Today I’d like to talk about fear.
I want to talk about fear because if you’re an actor you DO have big dreams and going after those dreams can be very scary, very intimidating, and that produces fear. And if you don’t deal with it, you will quit on your dreams.
Sanford Meisner once said, “Everyone has a dream but most people aren’t pursuing it. That’s not a criticism. It’s just that the fear is too much so they don’t do it, which leads to a safe and fairly mediocre life.”
Fear kills dreams so if you have big dreams you must transcend your fears or you’ll be one of those people who are actually tormented by the very thing that should make you the happiest.
The best definition I ever heard about fear was this: “Fear is the emotional rehearsal of a negative outcome.” And considering how powerful our thoughts are, it’s no wonder we often produce the very result we don’t want.
Fear is a topic I am extremely passionate about because after 28 years of going after my dreams, I’ve had to deal with many of my “fears.” In fact, I’ve found the more I dream, the bigger I dream, the more I can scare the hell out of myself.
The Only Way Out Is Through This quote has always resonated with me and it’s one of my favorites when it comes to fear because when fear comes up we have two clear choices – to deal with it in a healthy way or an unhealthy way. And the only way out is through:
- Fear without knowledge is amplified
- Fear without a plan is debilitating
- Fear without a goal is endless
My goal, my plan for fear is balance. And I don’t mean a little balance. I mean a LOT. I mean a daily routine of drinking in the best of what works for me to balance fear out.
For me, that starts with morning prayers and meditation. Then I read the words of people whose lives I admire greatly. Next I work out for an hour and a half and then I eat a wonderful, healthy breakfast.
And most importantly for me, I don’t go near my phone until all this is completed.
By having this balance in place BEFORE I start my day, I’m able to use my fears that come up to inform me but not guide me.
Also, by addressing my fears in advance I’m rooted in this mantra, “I feel you, fear, and I’m still moving forward.”
One Thing I Know For Sure The story of the life you choose to go after is much more interesting than the excuses you have for not trying.
What are your greatest fears as an actor? A dreamer? A human being?
How are you addressing them? Are you choosing healthy or unhealthy ways?
What’s your plan? Is it working or do you need a new one?
I look forward to hearing from you, so if you haven’t yet joined our Artistic Family Facebook page GO HERE.
I hope you have a beautiful, fearless Sunday. Jim
8. The key to hits are at bats
Good morning and happy day after Halloween. I hope your night was wonderful and full of fun. I’m not a big Halloween guy so I’m grateful it’s over because we now are one step closer to my favorite holiday – Thanksgiving!
What are you grateful for on this beautiful morning?
Last week we had the honor of hosting actor Garret Dillahunt (Deadwood, No Country For Old Men, Hand of God, Raising Hope, The Mindy Project and LOTS more – IMDB) at our school for a talk and Q&A.
For those of you who were there, you know what an incredible evening it was. Garret was gracious, humble, funny, kind, helpful and really, really cool.
What I’d like to talk about this morning is how it came about because if you’re an actor/dreamer, how it came about is important.
“So how did it come about?”
We reached out and invited him and he said yes.
That IS it.
We swung the bat and got a hit. And if you’re a dreamer, the keys to hits are at bats.
When I was living in LA (now, 22 years ago – sheessh!) and climbing my way up the Hollywood Food Chain, I was doing everything I could think of to advance my career.
My routine every morning was to read all of the industry trades and newspapers along with the LA Times for the purpose of finding projects I might be right for and self-submit.
Rarely did it lead to anything in terms of booked worked, but what it did lead to was me being proactive. And that led to me feeling empowered, and when you’re trying to find your way in Hollywood, feeling empowered is HUGE.
One morning I got the idea that, along with all this marketing work I was doing, I was going to reach out and write a letter a day to someone whose career I admired. My goal was simple. I was trying to find people who were “way ahead of me” in hopes they’d be willing to meet and help me, advise me and mentor me.
For over the next year that’s what I did.
And because of why I became an actor, I reached out not just to actors and directors, but producers, studio heads, politicians, world leaders – to anyone who was trying to make this world a better place.
I wrote to Kevin Costner, Bruce Willis, Al Pacino and Robert Duvall. I wrote to Steven Spielberg and Oliver Stone.
I wrote to Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton.
I wrote to Oprah. A lot.
I’d love to tell you that my “letter a day campaign” was a huge success in terms of response.
It was not.
And yet, it was a HUGE success in terms of what it brought to me. You see every letter I wrote, I was one step closer to my dreams coming true.
If you’re trying to create something form nothing (our careers and dreams) then the key to hits are at bats. You must swing the bat to get a hit, which means you must step into the box to ever swing the bat which, means you must suit up to ever step into the box, which means you must show up to ever suit up.
And if you do this daily – this chop, chop, chopping towards your dream, then even if you don’t get a positive result, you ARE (I promise you) one step closer to getting a hit.
What can you do TODAY to advance your dream? What is one simple thing you can do TODAY that’s within your control and power to bring yourself one step closer to your dreams coming true?
I’m really asking so really let me know. Go to our Artistic Family Facebook page and share with me what you did today to get empowered and closer to what you want and deserve.
I’m posting mine shortly as well.
Thanks for taking the time to hang with me. You’re greatly appreciated.
My best, Jim
9. Who changed your life?
Happy Sunday to you.
I saw a young girl yesterday in a wheel chair and it was clear, she’ll never walk again. I’m grateful beyond words that I can walk and even more grateful that my daughter can.
I’m also extremely grateful for this young girl reminding me how blessed I am.
What are you grateful for right now?
Today I’d like to talk about what honestly believe is the whole point of this human experience – to figure out why we’re here and to bring forth those gifts and be of service to others.
In fact I believe the greatest thing we can do in our lifetime is to help, serve, and elevate others.
To mentor people who want what we have.
If I hadn’t been an actor I would have been a college basketball coach. The reason was because in high school I had the honor of playing for a legendary coach, John Fitzgerald.
His impact on me (on all of us) was enormous. He turned us from boys into young men and taught us the value of work ethic, hustle, commitment, and never giving up.
He changed my life forever and I will forever be in his debt for what he gave to me.
When I was in my 20’s trying to figure out what to do with my life I seriously entertained becoming a coach because of Coach Fitzgerald. It wasn’t about coaching basketball or the games. Instead, it was the opportunity to mentor young people and inspire them to be better.
Basketball was simply the backdrop for what I really wanted to do.
But instead I chose acting. Or I should say it chose me. And I have no regrets. It was exactly what I supposed to do and be.
And now a quarter century later, my career as an actor and teacher fulfills all the reasons I wanted to be a coach which was to mentor and be of service.
And it’s all because of my greatest mentor, Sanford Meisner.
Besides my parents and sisters, Sanford Meisner was the single greatest influence in my life. He saw something in me, pulled me up, made me better, and made me believe I could actually do this.
He gave me my career and the chance for my wildest dreams to come true.
Who changed your life? Who saw you?
I mean reeeeealy saw you and got you and inspired you and because of their belief in you, changed you? And made you better?
Do they know their impact on you? Have you told them lately, thanked them lately for all they gave to you? If you haven’t then I say today is a beautiful day to let them know.
And call instead of emailing them if possible.
Once you reach out to them please go to our Facebook page and share with us who they are/were and how they helped you – GO HERE.
One more question. Who can YOU reach out today and mentor, help, and elevate? Let us know who that person is as well.
I hope you have a beautiful rest of your day and as always, thank you for spending time with me.
My very best, Jim
10. The #1 regret for most people Hey there,
I had an amazing week being a teacher and that’s what I’m grateful for – the opportunity to help and mentor anyone who cares.
What are you grateful for? Really?
I have another question for you.
What do you think is the number one regret of people on their deathbeds?
Ready? They wish they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves, not the life others expected of them. They wish they hadn’t worried so much and instead took more chances.
It’s easy to see why people feel this way. This is how most people live their lives – terrified of change and the unknown so they play it safe. And as Sanford Meisner once said, “A safe life leads to a mediocre life.”
One of the really cool things about teaching actors is my classes are filled with people daring to live a life of no regrets.
Yet I see how scared many of them are about actually doing something with their dream. Again, at least they’re taking a step towards it by going through this training but doing what they may have to do once it’s done – quit their job, move away, leave a bad relationship – terrifies them.
So most don’t do it.
That’s not a criticism. You have to be incredibly healthy to face your fears and transcend them.
Today I’d like to honor and celebrate someone who is a beautiful example of just that – Melissa Thompson Esaia.
Melissa is a heroic dreamer.
When I met her she was one of the most respected and successful actresses in the Bay Area. Yet she knew something was missing in her craft so when she heard about this acting teacher who’d come to town she decided to check him out.
That teacher was me and I accepted her on the spot.
It was so clear how much she wanted this dream of hers. She turned out to be the single greatest student I’ve eve had the honor to work with. By greatest I mean everything – talent, passion, work ethic, humility, patience, determination, and respect for the teachings.
She was a force who made every partner she had in class better because of who she was.
When Melissa finished the training she was at a crossroads. She worked for the county and was paid extremely well with a wonderful package but she hated her job.
Melissa was also in a marriage that was suffocating her. She was married to someone who was fine with her acting as long as it never grew beyond what it was, which was a problem because Melissa wanted her wildest acting dreams to come true.
She sat her husband down and told him she wanted to move to a bigger acting market and she wanted to quit her job and act full time.
He said no to both.
Melissa left her husband a week later but she needed her job with the county more than ever so that she didn’t quit.
In the meantime my school was growing rapidly and I needed someone to teach alongside me to help me expand the school. I asked Melissa if she’d be willing to try it and see what she thought. It would be tough because she’d have to work all day at her county job then drive down to the city and teach late into the evening, then get up and do it all again.
She never hesitated and soon became invaluable to the students and to me because she was incredible.
And she loved it and she thrived but this brought her to another crossroad. You see, the more she did what she loved the less she wanted to do what she didn’t love – her secure government job.
And then she did what every hero on his or her hero’s journey must do. She faced her fears head on and jumped. She quit her day job, took a pay cut in half and began teaching for me full-time.
And never looked back.
Seven years later Melissa is thriving. She’s the finest teacher of the Meisner Technique in the world who never studied with Sanford Meisner.
She continues to act but only in projects she’s passionate about.
She’s a director of films and now a producer as well.
Today is also her 40th birthday.
So on this very special day I would like to honor this very special woman. Happy birthday to you, Melissa! You are an incredible, amazing, courageous, heroic dreamer and we’re all better because of you.
What can you do to move just a bit closer to your dreams coming true? You don’t need to quit “everything” but is there something you CAN do TODAY to move you closer?
Please share with all of us on our Facebook page what that is!
As always, thank you for spending time with me.
My very best, Jim
11. How can you change this world?
Good morning and happy Sunday to you!
What am I grateful for today? It’s really simple. My daughter arrives this evening from the East Coast for the Thanksgiving holiday and I cannot WAIT to pick her up!
What are you grateful for? Really take a moment and answer this because it feels really good when you do.
I had a very blessed, wonderful week being a teacher and it all started after the Paris attacks. The reason why it was so incredible was because I had the honor of addressing every single class about one of Sanford Meisner’s most beautiful teachings:
“Being an actor was never supposed to be about fame and money. That’s new. Until recently being an actor was a religious calling because the serious actor took a vow of poverty upon entering this profession, but it was worth it because you literally have the opportunity, the honor, to impact a human being’s life forever if you work on material that stands for something, that says something, and what a responsibility because this world needs you. No exaggeration there. This world literally needs you.”
I love Sandy. And man, was he right.
You see, Sanford Meisner believed that to be an actor was a very noble profession because our job is to help humanity see just a bit more, feel just a bit more, and heal just a bit more through our acting, plays and films.
So in classes all week long, I did my best to remind every single student that what they’re doing is important because they’re all growing into their voices and their voices are needed more than ever.
Who knows? Maybe a current student of ours will someday act in a film or make a film or write a play that is so good, so powerful, and so right that someone who sees it IS forever changed. And then that person is now empowered to do something, and who knows where that will lead?
“Most people are sleepwalking through life so it’s our job to wake them up. “ …Sanford Meisner
I agree with Sandy 1000%! Yet sometimes it feels like this world is so lost and so screwed up that “doing something to help” seems either impossible or pointless.
Paris. Beirut. Suicide bombers, downed jetliners, and ISIS are the big issues of the week.
Next week there will be horrific new ones.
Ahhhh f@*&k it. It IS overwhelming so sleepwalking sounds good.
But we can’t. Not US. Not us actors, dreamers, and rabble-rousers. We have the opportunity, the responsibility, the honor and the gift to hold a mirror up for humanity.
So let’s get to work please.
My issue is climate change. And today I am thrilled to announce that my film on this very topic, Talk Is Cheap, will begin principal photography August 1st, 2016. The kicker is I haven’t yet raised the $400,000 I need, but what the hell. No more waiting. No more sleepwalking. It’s time. So today I declare it.
What issue are you passionate about? How you can help make this world better through your voice, your talent and your gifts?
It’s time. This world needs you.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and my very best, Jim
P.S. – My mom was a pacifist. Her issue was war and the death penalty. The bumper sticker on her car said it all: “I think when Jesus said, ‘Love thy neighbor’ he probably meant don’t kill him.”
My mom was really cool.
12. A life-changing epiphany
I’m grateful I only gained three pounds since Thursday and not the thirteen it feels like.
What are you grateful for today? Right now? In this very moment?
I was married for fourteen years (I’ve been divorced for sixteen years and something else I’m extremely grateful for is my divorce with my ex, Suzy. You can’t do it any better if you have a child involved than we did).
When she got pregnant we chose to leave Los Angeles and move to the island of Hawaii for a two-year sabbatical. Two years turned into four.
One day a woman at the beach said to me, “You’re both so lucky to be able to do this for your daughter.” I thought, “Lady, luck had nothing to do with this.”
You see, it was a really, really tough thing to do. I realize it’s hard to feel sympathy hearing we took four years off, hung out every day with our daughter while living in Hawaii but we both had just walked away from beautiful careers and lifestyle.
Instead, for the next four years we lived off savings and the courage and faith we were doing the right thing for our daughter.
Recently Suzy and I were talking about our time in Hawaii when I said, “I wished I’d known everything was going to be OK. I could have just relaxed more and not stressed so much about money and what next and how we were going to survive.”
I wish I’d known everything was going to be OK.
Last week the Golden State Warriors were going for their 16th win in a row, an NBA record. I wanted to watch it but couldn’t so I recorded it to watch it first thing the next morning.
When I woke up I first headed to Peete’s for coffee. I turned off the car radio so I wouldn’t hear any sports updates and I kept my head down as I walked past the newspaper rack. Just as I took my place in line the guy in front of me answered his phone: “How about them Warriors! Sixteen in a row! Incredible!!!” Seriously?! I walked out, got in my car and drove home, my perfectly planned morning now ruined.
After pouting a bit more I finally decided, “What the hell. I’m going to watch the game anyway. I still don’t know the score and who knows, maybe something incredible happens.”
As I sat there watching a sporting event I already knew the outcome for something incredible DID happen – not for the Warriors, for me.
You see, I connected some dots I’d spent years creating. It went like this: “I know the outcome to this game so there’s no stress or drama. In Hawaii, I wish I’d know the outcome so there wasn’t stress and drama.”
Now the epiphany.
“I know what I believe about this human experience, why we’re here and what happens after I finally take my last breath. So just like the Warrior game I already I KNOW the outcome to this game called my life so what the hell, Jim Jarrett, just relax and trust more because everything is OK and IS going to be OK.”
BOOM. That hit me hard.
What do you believe happens after you take your last breath? If you’re with me then I say it’s time to relax just a bit more, trust just a bit more, and enjoy this beautiful thing called your life just a bit more because you already know the outcome.
Everything’s going to be OK.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions. You can share it with just me or with the rest of our Sunday Newsletter family on our private Facebook page. Either way, thanks in advance if you do. It’s always appreciated.
And so are you. Jim
13. The single most important thing to having your dreams come true
Good morning and happy Sunday (where did November go?),
Last evening was the closing night of our 3rd annual Sanford Meisner Film Festival and I’m so incredibly grateful to our students and alumni who participated. In spite of all the reasons and excuses not to do it, they made their film. Man, I am so proud and grateful for every single one of them.
What are you grateful for today?
There’s a saying I respect very much and that is this: “Success leaves clues.”
At this years film festival our guest of honor was Anthony Montes. He is an actor, writer, director, filmmaker, and teacher. He is also one of my oldest, dearest, and most respected friends.
And for all you dreamers out there his journey has left a lot of successful clues. I’d like to share with you the most important one – he didn’t quit when everything (and everyone) said quit.
These days Tony’s career and dreams are in beautiful shape. He’s written, produced and starred in two films over the last year.
His reputation as a teacher is growing like crazy. Tony teaches at James Franco’s studio in Los Angeles and over the last six months he’s taught acting in Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Mexico and next heads to Dubai and South Africa.
No one I know deserves success more than Tony Montes.
But I’ve known Tony for twenty-five years now and I’ll be honest with you, it’s only been the last few years that he’s had this type of elevated success.
For most of the time I’ve known him he has struggled. And there have been times where he has reeeeeeealllllyyyyy struggled. Trust me on this one – most people would have quit if they had endured the lows of his dream and career.
But he didn’t quit. “Success leaves clues.” The successful clue of Tony’s story isn’t that he didn’t quit. It’s why he didn’t. And the reason why he didn’t quit is because he’s doing exactly what he was put on this earth to do.
One of my favorite quotes from Vincent Van Gogh says it all: “Your profession is not your job. Your profession is what you’re put on this earth to do with such passsion and intensity it becomes spiritual in calling.”
And there it is.
Are you doing what you were put on this earth to do? Do you love your job? Are you passionate about it? And even if you’re not, are you at least devoting some time and effort towards your calling?
And if not why not? What excuses do you use to not live the life you want?
And if you are then you understand that even if it is a struggle, even if it’s really scary and overwhelming at times, you can’t quit. You just can’t. And Tony’s story is living proof of what happens when you don’t.
I’ll leave you with one more quote. This one from Sanford Meisner who so beautifully once said to us dreamers: “Someday time will catch up with you and your dream and it will all come together. And you’ll look back on all this heartache and struggle and realize it was worth it. That’s if you can hang in there.”
How’s your dream doing today? I love hearing your reactions so please take a moment if you’re inspired to do so and share yourself on our Artistic Family Facebook page.
And as always, please know how grateful I am for YOU!
My very best, Jim
14. Answer these two questions
Happy Sunday to you!
As I write this I’m sitting at the Mauna Kea Resort in Hawaii. It has one of most beautiful beaches in the world and it’s where I’ll be for the next several weeks. To say the least I’m extremely grateful for this blessed opportunity to come back home to the island of Hawaii.
What are you grateful for? I’m really asking you so if you can’t think of something right away take a moment. It’s worth it.
Last week I wrote about a man I admire very much, Anthony Montes. I celebrated his resiliency to hang in there as he’s gone after his dream for 30 years with such integrity.
Today I’d like to introduce you to somebody else I have enormous respect for. His name is Bubba Rutledge. Bubba was my dearest, closest friend when I lived here. I moved off-island 18 years ago and all these years later we’re closer than ever and my respect for him has only grown.
For 30 years Bubba had the best job at the best office in the world.
He was the beach captain at Kona Village Resort. If any of you have ever been to Kona Village you know how beautiful that place is and what a step back in time it was when you stayed there.
Bubba’s job was to make sure every single guest was spoiled rotten the second they set foot on that beach. From the time they arrived to the moment they left nothing but aloha.
He was verrrrrrry good at his job.
The guests were often rock stars, movie stars, great athletes and some of the most powerful, influential businessmen and women in the world. And this is what makes Bubba so incredible because he was family to these people. Their kid’s kids kept coming back year after year and one of the main reasons was to see “Uncle Bubba.”
This will give you an idea of the type of influence he had on people and their families.
When Steve Jobs passed Bubba was the personal guest of the Jobs family. When he arrived Steve Jobs children ran to him with big hugs and screaming, “Uncle Bubba, you came!!!”
I’m sure as he sat there with Steve Jobs wife Lorraine on one side and Bill Clinton and Bono on the other, the guests had to be wondering, “Who the hell is that guy sitting over there wearing an aloha shirt?”
The reason I’m sharing him with you is this: I hung out with Bubba and his beautiful wife, Lydia last evening. And as I drove home I was so struck by how pure, grounded, and “in balance” he is as a human being.
Now he’s lived Hawaii for the last 50 years so he’s not around a lot of “out-of-balance” people, energy and situations. And for those of us who live on the mainland we are surrounded by a tremendous amount of “out-of-balance” people, energy and situations.
And that leads to a question I’d like to ask of you. What aspect of your life is “out of balance ” because of your daily routine. Is it physical, emotional, financial, professional or maybe all of the above?
And the real question is what can you do, TODAY, about it? What one step can you take to begin to get “in-balance?”
Next weeks newsletter is going to be a continuation of this so for now I’d like you to go to our private Newsletter Facebook page and answer these two questions. Where are you most “out of balanced” in your life and what can you do TODAY to begin to balance that out.
This is going to be fun! I can’t wait to read what you share.
Until next week, ALOHA, Jim
15. The world’s greatest lie
Happy Sunday and Aloha from the island of Hawaii,
I’m grateful beyond words to have spent the last week “back home” on the Big Island. It is such an incredibly special place for me and I’m better because of my time here.
What are you the MOST grateful for this morning?
Did you just skip over one of THE best questions of this day? Really answer it. It feels good.
So last week topic was on the importance of being in balance – especially if you have big dreams inside of you.
And forget big dreams. Just going through life every day these days requires one to be incredibly balanced. And if you’re not then stress and fear are what follow.
So I’d like to continue on the topic of balance a bit more.
There’s an old Buddhist teaching about balance that I love. It goes like this: “When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out. What comes out of you when you’re squeezed?”
When I’m not “in balance” and life squeezes me what comes out of me is impatience. I notice it especially when I’m driving.
Very bad Buddhist driver sometimes.
One thing I’ve learned from all these years of teaching is that most people just need to be turned up a little bit in some areas and turned down in other area.
I’ve been coming to this beach every day since I got here and one thing that’s so clear is how out of balance most people are physically. Most everyone I see is overweight and out of shape.
Like really sloppy.
For all you actors reading this you have no excuse being out of shape.
In a profession where so much is outside our control the things we DO have control over, we most own. And being in shape is on you.
I’m not saying it’s easy getting back into shape when we’ve let this slide but I am saying it is on you.
So own that.
And that leads to the point of today’s newsletter and one of my favorite topics and the worlds greatest lie.
People don’t change.
Now it is true that MOST people don’t change because most people lack the mental toughness and discipline to change behavior and patterns that aren’t working for them.
But “people don’t change” is complete BS.
So let me ask you a question. What pattern or behavior in your life is not working for you?
The next question Id like to ask is this. Have you tried to change it with little or no success?
And finally, would you like some help?
If yes then hit reply and tell me one thing about your life you’d like to change that you’ve been struggling with. I won’t share this with anyone but soon I’m going to extend something to you alI that I’m incredibly excited about – the keys for successful, lasting change in your life. I’ll keep you posted when it’s ready so be looking for that announcement.
In the meantime, the next time we hang out together Christmas will have come and gone. And even if you don’t celebrate Christmas next week I have a present for YOU so be on the lookout for that as well.
Until then I’m sending you and your family my best wishes for a safe and incredibly happy holiday.