You know what's interesting? The number of actors who started out in ballet. To name just a few, Charlize Theron attended the Joffrey Ballet School, Elisabeth Moss studied at the School of American Ballet, and Penelope Cruz trained at Spain's National Conservatory.
What's also interesting is a saying often quipped amongst this breed of dancer: "Miss one day of practice and you notice. Miss two days of practice and your teacher notices. Miss three days of practice and your audience notices".
Our own pirouetting prowess aside, there's just as much truth in this for us as actors. While our individual Training Menus will differ, we can only maintain and strengthen whatever it is we've chosen to "practice" on a daily and weekly basis by constantly showing up. For anyone with Ambitious-Ass Goals, consistency is key.
What's in it for us?
We're proper advocates of the "control the controllables" mindset here at the Dojo. As we're all painfully aware, actors don't control a whole lot in the industry as it stands today. Our preparation, however, is one of the precious few we do.
A vast body of research — spanning several fields — supports the direct correlation between consistency and peak performance. To highlight just three of the most compelling benefits for us as actors:
- Objectivity. This isn't something we frequently encounter on the actor's path, so sneaking some in can provide welcome ground to stand on. Assessing progress objectively is simply easier (and more accurate) when we have numerous data points to compare. Can we truly measure our growth vocally, for instance, if the last warm up we hit was three weeks ago?
- Proficiency. This is a bit of a no-brainer, but its significance is hard to overstate. As BJ Fogg (author of Tiny Habits) has said, "In general, the more you do a behaviour, the easier it gets". And when it comes to opening night or our first day on set, the less we have to struggle against, the better.
- Identity. Perhaps one of the least-acknowledged rewards of consistency — despite its power. Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do", which holds true in both the big and small. If we hit the yoga mat each morning, we're a yogi. If we put pen to paper every night, we're a writer. If we religiously tend our collection of succulents, we're a gardener. Repetition reinforces identity. Practice makes permanent. We, in fact, bestow our actor-ness on ourselves.
Doing "consistency" right
First, we have to get crystal clear on what behaviours and actions we need and want to be consistent with. Actor busy-work may make us feel as though we're being productive, but if this lacks intention and purpose, we won't be moving the needle.
Fortunately, we've got the needle-moving game plan down to a fine art for y'all. The formula is straightforward — the real work is putting in the reps.
From here, we turn our goal into an actionable Training Menu through the magic of reverse engineering.
These behaviours and actions are then the ones we double down on. And these behaviours and actions will move the needle because they're in direct service to our goal and personal definition of success.
Dojo actors understand the vital importance of staying match fit. If our "quiet season" is broken by a major Netflix self-tape tomorrow, Dojo actors are good to go. As our pal Oprah likes to say, "Luck is preparation meeting opportunity". And in preparation, consistency is key.
Thoughts / feedback / challenges? We'd genuinely love to hear.