What Brad Pitt Taught Me

Hi there,

Good morning and happy Sunday to you.

Next week will be a year ago that I launched my first newsletter. I had no idea how many weeks in a row I’d write them because I had no idea if anyone would ever read them.

I’m thrilled and honored to say that 52 weeks and 52 newsletters later you’re still reading.

And that’s what I’m so grateful for today – you. I write these for you in hopes something I share helps you and that’s why I’m so appreciative when you reach back – either on our Facebook page or just hitting reply – and share your reactions with me. Last week’s newsletter was a beautiful example of what I’m talking about because your feedback was so helpful and appreciated.

What I’m saying is, I’m really grateful for you and your time.

What are you grateful for on this beautiful Sunday morning? Sometimes we have to stop and really think about that question but please do. It feels really good when you find something and REALLY take a moment to say thank you for it.

WHAT BRAD PITT TAUGHT ME THIS WEEK That’s a catchy subject line, isn’t it?

But the truth is, I learned a great lesson from Brad Pitt this week. I want to be clear, I don’t know him (I do know two people who know him quite well and they say he is an AMAZING father, husband, and actor so that’s nice to know, right?) but I’ve studied his career and the way he’s handled “his ride” since the beginning and I’ve always been impressed by him.

Anyway, the other day I was watching Brad in some movie and my daughter was sitting near me and I thought, “Man, I know what my life is like as an actor (blessed beyond words) but I wonder what his is like and the things he can provide for his kid – the experiences, the travel, the lifestyle, the homes, the planes, the fun” – and before I knew it, I was down a rabbit hole comparing my career with Brad Pitt’s and all of a sudden, my career didn’t feel very good.

The irony of this was not lost on me. You see, when I go on teaching tours and talk to actors early in their careers I say (and mean it), “I wouldn’t trade my career with any other actor. I make a beautiful living on my terms. I only work on projects I want to work on. I can live anywhere I want because I’m not beholden to Hollywood to work.”

Yet here I was, comparing myself to another actor’s ride – and not just another actor but one of Hollywood’s biggest stars!!! And not just comparing, but wanting to trade with him because of what, more stuff? Better stuff??!

This all came from an understandable source (I guess) – a parent wanting an even better life for their child. But ready? My daughter has an amazing life and she too is blessed beyond words. So it didn’t take me long to “snap out of it” and come back to a healthy, balanced reality.

And this is what I learned and wanted to share.

THE BEST ADVICE I EVER GOT EARLY IN MY CAREER “Don’t compare your career as an actor with anyone else’s. You’ll go crazy. Every career is different and there is no one single career that’s the same so just go after yours, embrace yours as your own and see where it takes you.”

Man was this brilliant advice at a time when I needed it.

I’ll admit it’s not easy to do.  When I was building my career in Los Angeles I knew actors who had very little talent and even less work ethic make it big while I was working my ass off and barely surviving.

Even worse, I knew some incredibly unprofessional, unethical people get huge breaks while I was doing my best to go after this with class and grace yet struggling like crazy.

It didn’t seem fair! It isn’t fair! Hollywood isn’t fair!

Boo@^$&@hoo.

And here’s the gold – if you compare your ride in this crazy business with anyone else’s then you’ll often be miserable with where you are instead of loving the fact that at least you’re living your dream.

Again, it’s easy to do and very understandable because we live in a society where we start comparing where we are with everyone else almost the second we’re born.

Our parents will gladly do this for us first by telling everyone how advanced “we are” verses “the rest.”

Then the second we begin school, getting compared to others and/or doing it ourselves becomes almost an obsession – from grades to good looks, to cool cars and even cooler boyfriends/girlfriends to SAT scores and acceptance into top colleges verses “those colleges” – it’s relentless and it fosters an environment inside of us where we never feel like we’re enough because it feels like someone is always better then we are.

And even if we’re “doing better” than whomever we’re comparing ourselves to, we may feel good for a moment but it will never last because there will ALWAYS be someone cooler, prettier, wealthier, hipper – whatever.

Always.

And for actors, this is never truer because we’ve chosen a profession where being compared to extra cool/pretty/hip people IS the job. In fact, every single time we audition and lay it out there we are being compared to every other person walking into that room.

Just drive down Sunset Boulevard one evening and look at all of billboards lining the street. Those posters can be really ugly mirrors showing us exactly where we aren’t and what we ain’t.

Humbling. Depressing. Understandable.

And knock it off.

Seriously, stop it please because it is hell and will NEVER lead to truly enjoying your journey, your ride, your dream.

So wherever you are today in your dream, I want you to be happy. Be grateful you even get the chance to go after it and live it because there are so many people who don’t even have the chance to think about it much less go after it.

Also, please find the good in where you are and what you’ve done so far. If there are some things that need cleaning up or addressing then address them, but be really nice to yourself and honor what you’re doing and how courageous you are.

And celebrate exactly where YOU are in your journey – this unique, once in a lifetime story called your life, your dream.

You’re something special – just as you are.

Til next week, Jim

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