A few years ago, I was executive producer on a film, and spent a few days on the set. On one of those days I got roped in as a supporting actor, an ‘extra’, and I spent much of the day doing the same thing over and over again. Needless to say, I didn’t have much of an idea what I was supposed to be doing. I couldn’t work out whether we were rehearsing or filming, so I asked Colin Salmon, the actor who was in the scene with me. His reply contained an important message with far wider implications.
“I don’t know,” he said, “I never concern myself with it… I just do it every time as if it’s a take. You never know what they’re going to use.”
Can you say you live your life like that – giving it 100% in every scene? Or do you sometimes allow your game to slip when you think it’s not important, when nobody’s looking, or when you think the audience isn’t worthy of your very best effort?
What’s true on a film set, is true in life. You never really know when the important cameras are rolling – when you’re in a potentially life-enhancing situation, or in the company of people who have more to offer you than you could ever imagine. It’s only with the benefit of hindsight, when you see the film being played back, that you realise you missed a massive opportunity by assuming it didn’t matter, when it clearly did.
The only solution is to do what Colin Salmon does – start out with the assumption that every situation, every meeting, every interaction is a ‘take’, the one that’s going to be used and may have a lasting impact on your future. That has implications for the way you dress, the way you look and the way you conduct yourself. Give it 100% every time. When you do, there are massive benefits not just for you, but for everyone you come into contact with.