Star of Your Own Life

06/15/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Some dozen years ago I had a life altering realization, an 'aha' moment, in which I realized how much all of the self help, personal growth, transformational courses and books available were similar to the work I had been doing in my 20 years as a professional actor, director and acting coach. I'd been coaching others on how to be powerful, dynamic 'players' on a stage. Why wouldn't it work in 'real life'? Why can't everyone be a star in their own life'?

You may feel as if you're a supporting character, randomly re-acting to circumstances beyond your control, but the truth is you are here, the play is going on and no one, including the most powerful 'characters' around you, have any more foreknowledge past what the very next line might be. So, in the play that happens today, you might as well be the star.

Every character is important: would a playwright add a character that didn't move the action of the play forward? Everyone is integral in the play's theme.

Each individual scene is a chance for you to move closer to your purpose. Every movement and gesture should occur as urgent and important, true to your character and purpose: 'suit the action to the word, the word to the action'.

If a character in a play comes up against a challenge or obstacle every fiber of their being is involved in figuring out how to get around that obstacle to get what they want.

A character is defined by what they will do to get what they want in spite of obstacles and what they will do is only real if it actually occurs on stage, not just in their minds.

Every actor in the play has played someone else in another play. Who they were yesterday has nothing to do with who they will reinvent themselves to be today.

The actors will repeat the play over and over again but will apply craftsman-like effort to make it appear fresh and new every time.

The main tool the actor will apply is 'as if' it were so. They will act 'as if' they were the king, the prophet, the princess or heroine. Acting 'as if' will move them closer to what they're transforming themselves into being. They will 'fake it til they make it'.

You can't act on a 'negative'. Try 'not sitting'. Instead of the negative you'll find that you're actually doing something positive like standing or squatting, etc. Form your being into positive, forward motion and don't allow yourself to 'operate from a negative'.

As Napoleon Hill said to his acting troupe (just kidding), "Whatever the mind of man can conceive, he can achieve". Playwrights, directors and actors create whole worlds with words, some lights and a few pieces of cloth. The impossible can be 'staged' with the right approach!

Stage fright is very real and every actor experiences it at least once in their career. There are techniques to overcome this fright and in fact, there is a lot of energy to be channeled from fear! And the show must go on!

Actors need to bond and trust their fellow players in the pursuit of ensemble, creating with their fellows whole world from words, actions and intentions.

The actors have to stay in character and be truly authentic or they'll lose their audience.

Actors choose what to wear, apply makeup, and assume the bearing of their character. If you're playing a successful businessman you stand tall, assume a confident stance, dress in a costume that gives others the appropriate message about who you are being.

Actors have to have reserves of energy and stamina in order to share a dynamic energy that radiates to others and beyond the stage. They have to achieve a balance in their lives of physical and intellectual conditioning and be in a state of continuous improvement.

Characters on stage have a finite time before the curtain comes down so every second onstage has to count.

Remember, no matter what the critics say, how poorly your performance is judged or how quickly the show gets closed by the producers, it is just a play. In the long run, it's just a scene in a bigger play. The applause is not why you do it but, at the final curtain, you want to say 'I did my best'. Make sure you gave it your all while the lights shone.

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'Break a leg' my friends -- which means 'Good Luck'!