The Problem is the Solution

The big obstacle that’s preventing you from taking action could easily be turned into the motivation you need

Written by Dallas Travers, CEC

When was the last time a big problem, obstacle or fear prevented you from taking action? If you’re like most people, more often than not, obstacles either stop you from living large or at the very least, distract you from your goals.

What if I told you that the big obstacle that’s preventing you from taking action could easily be turned into the motivation you need to do the very thing you’re afraid of?

What if I told you that the problem is actually the solution?

I first heard of this concept from a student of acting coach Cameron Thor. She explained to me that Cameron encourages his actors to turn their perceived obstacles into opportunities to improve their craft. He teaches them to turn the problem into the solution.

Okay, so what does “the problem is the solution” really mean?

Let me share an example. If you don’t know the best way to stay in touch with your agent, don’t suffer through trying to figure it out on your own. Don’t try and guess what your agent wants. Simply ask your agent. 

The problem: “I don’t know how I should be communicating with my agent.”

The solution: “Hey agent, I want to make sure I keep up my end of the bargain, and I’m not sure of the best way to communicate with you. So, I’m just going to ask; what’s the best way to stay in touch?”

So now instead of avoiding your agent because you’re afraid of reaching out inappropriately, you can channel your fears and use your desire for clarity as the very reason why you reach out.

The problem is indeed the solution, and you can apply this principle to all areas of your career and your life.

A lot of actors struggle to bridge the gap between knowing people personally and working with them professionally. The problem here is that the fear that your industry friends may think you’re using them, right?

So, instead of giving your friends the opportunity to decide for themselves if they’d like to help your acting career, you simply don’t ask. You don’t want to be ‘that actor’, so you just zip your lip and hope that your industry friend will intuitively know what you need and how they can help you.

Truth time: your industry friends are in your life because they like you. These people actually want to help you, but they can’t help you if you don’t ask for it. Discussing your career, sharing your goals and expressing your needs are essential to your success. But, how do you confidently talk about the business without acting weird or making your industry friends feel awkward?

You guessed it. The problem is the solution!

Think of someone you may know socially but haven’t bridged the gap between friendship and business. What problem is preventing you from talking about your career? Do you feel awkward talking about the business because you fear it will harm your relationship?

If so, the solution may be confronting that giant pink elephant in the room. Ask your friend the best way to navigate the relationship and use the fact that you’re unsure about bridging the gap as your reason for checking in with them.

Maybe you could say something like, “I feel awkward talking to you about the business because I respect our friendship. So I want to check in with you to see how comfortable you are if I share career updates with you and reach out occasionally to ask for business advice?”

Michael, an actor who also works as a bartender, has several regular customers at the bar who also work in the business. Michael has grown to know them well over the years. Now, Michael’s customers are also his friends, but he just didn’t feel right bridging the gap between bar talk and industry talk.

Michael knew that he was missing an opportunity, but he didn’t know how to fix his dilemma. This situation isn’t unusual. In fact, this is one of the most common obstacles that I see actors put in front of themselves. He was so afraid of damaging the relationship that he simply kept his mouth shut.

I encouraged Michael to find out for sure how open his customers were to helping him. Rather than deciding for them, he gave them a chance to decide for themselves how involved they wanted to be in his career.

The problem is the solution! He simply checked in with each individual asking them how open they were to giving him some career guidance. Of course, every one of Michael’s customers were happy to help him. In fact, one of them became his manager when she found out that he was an actor.

The next time you’re looking to bridge that gap between your friends and your acting career, don’t spend hours stressing about the perfect way to say something or, even worse, not saying anything at all. Just remember that your problem is the solution. Simply turn the thing you were worried about on its head and use it to open the door to new opportunities.

Respected as one of the entertainment industry’s leading experts, Dallas Travers teaches actors the career and life skills often left out of traditional training programs. Her groundbreaking book, The Tao of Show Business, has won over five awards including first prizes at The Hollywood Book Festival and the London Festival along with the National Indie Excellence Award. She has helped thousands of actors to increase their auditions, produce their own projects, secure representation and book roles in film and television.

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