Getting clear about what you want in life, and more importantly, finding the willpower and motivation to pursue it, can be extremely challenging.
That’s where people like Bex Grennan come in. Grennan, a life coach and stage performer, has a real knack for helping other’s dreams come true.
Bex and I share similar interests and I had a great pleasure doing this interview. I absolutely love her definition of success and how it changed throughout the years, and I highly recommend anyone to pay attention to her response to my final question.
1. What or who inspired you to embark on a career as a performer and why did you decide to eventually become a coach?
I have been performing ever since I took to the stage in my first concert aged five. I loved dressing up in all the costumes and taking on the acting roles. I feel like my teacher was a really dedicated and strict role model who instilled a lot of good perseverance qualities in me which have really helped in my performing journey. I also saw the joy my aunt and uncle had around music growing up and saw them often on their way out to a gig which was inspiring to me as an 8 year old.
I eventually decided to become a coach because performing wasn't inspiring me anymore. I had reached a ceiling in my dancing career and the next step was to do singing and acting roles and at the time it wasn't calling me. I really wanted to study again and I have been so fascinated by personal development and positive psychology since I was in my early 20's so when I heard about this thing called Life Coaching I was like, "cool, I get to work with people and make a difference in their lives" in a more long term way vs short term emotional ride from seeing a performance I was in or something.
2. You hit rock bottom at 24. can you tell us more about it? What ultimately led you to make a lifestyle change?
I hit rock bottom at 24 with really bad depression. I was living hand to mouth in Sydney in a living situation that I didn't love and with very little empowerment to chose to do things differently. Sadness hit me hard and I was really not eating, sleeping and finding any connection to joyful things or things that had brought me joy before.
The weird part is that I had desired all my life to be in a huge stage show touring the country and I had finally won that part. In the 2 months leading up to the beginning of that job is when I hit rock bottom and I was really contemplating pulling out. I had some really negative self talk going on that kept circling and circling and I was a really bad friend to myself in so many ways. I had a friend who was a right Irish character who asked me what I was going to do about the job and I was "I don't know, I don't think I can etc and he told me straight to "just get on with it".
What lead me out of that was getting help and making a commitment to change what ever I could about my inside habits that obviously weren't working in my favour. I did cognitive behavioural therapy and always loved the holitstic side to health and well being. Another friend of mine had a really cool experience with a life coach and once he told me about it I was immediately curious.
3. How do you help others find their creative energy? What is involved in the process?
I encourage my students to increase their playfulness. You know how we were when we were children and we believed through our imagination that all things were possible!? I'm such a goof that this is an easy project for them. Then we work on the "if anything were possible..." question and make a big vision of an amazing life full of their strengths and desires.
I like to work with vision boards and find this creative tool is great for loosening up resistance to change and opening up to new possibilities.
I work with my students to increase their sense of urgency to get things done and achieved vs taking the time. Hey, they pay for my services so they need to see results quickly, right!
We set small, achievable goals at first which I hold them accountable to reaching and all these activities help increase their creative energy which is so powerful in the manifestation of all our lives!
4. You've preformed all around the world, including the blockbuster animated movie "Happy Feet", How did that experience help you grow personally and professionally?
Happy Feet really gave me a cool insight into working on a film set. It wasn't your average film set though, as it was motion capture, black stage set, full of computers and body sensors.
Working with such a talented team increased my confidence exponentially as well as increased my scope of creativity. This process of full motion capture had never been done before in a film so new software was being built at every corner to keep up with the vision of the team.
It was very innovative and exciting to be around. That was both professionally and personally hugely inspiring. They really made it work with a strong team, passion and patience. George Miller, the director, was the picture of patience and a really calming and lovely man to work with.
5. Do you believe that everyone should have a mentor or a coach?
I absolutely believe in the power of teams and in using resources that are available to you. A mentor or coach is a great person to have as your personal champion and someone who will be there to remind you to celebrate your achievements, push you to go further than you ever thought you could. I have had a few mentors and coaches over the years and I have seen such a huge increase in productivity when I am being held accountable for my declarations and dreams!
6. What three pieces of advice would you give aspiring actors? What do you think makes a good actor?
Three pieces of advice would be to get as much life experience as possible. Explore and be adventurous with learning new things that will add to your scope as an actor. Keep a positive attitude and be optimistic about your future and the opportunities that you will make and will come your way.
Get good at hustling and staying present in the industry as a supporter and a contributor. Go to other peoples shows, be a positive person that is easy for people to like and work with. Make lasting friendships with people who will support you in your dreams and encourage your plans and limit your time with the 'nay-sayers'.
7. Have you had to make any sacrifices? What are the main challenges of being a professional performer?
I have always been very ambitious and I have made choices in my career that have taken me away from my family and kept me clear of other intimate relationships. I decided early on that I wanted to make my career happen in a big way so I remained single so I could focus on my craft for many years.
The main challenges for a professional performer are dealing with the rejection and not having enough opportunities. Especially in Australia, the industry is smaller than that of the USA so not getting a "look in" for certain roles becomes frustrating.
8. As far as growing your own business, how do you market yourself and your business?
I use social media and that's it so far. I have not spent a single dollar on traditional marketing avenues yet and I have been building steadily from these strategies so far.
I do guest posts on some industry websites and really invest in cultivating relationships with people on line. I have also started doing interviews and pitching myself for a lot more lately which will reap the rewards down the track for my business as well.
9. What is your definition of success? Have you found any shortcuts to obtaining it?
My definition of success is having close family and friends that respect me and are inspired by my experiences and projects to step out of their comfort zones and make leaps and bounds in their lives too.
At 24, my definition of success used to be being known, liked and respected by my entertainment industry leaders and peers to work consistently but that changed when I made the mind shift from "What can I get" to "What can I give?". Now I am successful when I am growing and making a difference to the world.
10. In your acting journey, what is one key things you've learned? What advice would you give to anyone considering the acting lifestyle?
Don't take the rejection personally. The casting process is like putting all the ingredients in a dish perfectly together. If you're nutmeg and they have already cast a nutmeg...then there's too much nutmeg in the dish and it wouldn't work. There's always something right around the next corner and it's something perfect for you at that moment.
My advise is to keep working on your craft and being inspired. Learn from the mistake I made about not keeping inspired. Be around positive and motivated people and limit your time around nay sayers and pessimists.
11. How do you emotionally connect to the story and your character when you perfom?
I was trained in Stanislavsky's The Method which instructs you to relate what the character is feeling, thinking and saying to a similar moment in your life and draw from that. I feel that is powerful for me to connect genuinely and authentically with what my character is going through.
I also use techniques of enhancing memories that I learned in Neuro Linguistic Programming training that I find really effective. An example is when I am remembering a point in my life and going throughout the memory I increase the colour of the memory and increase the volume of the sound and make the vision as real for me and as vivid as possible!
12. Talk a little about your personal life. What do you think readers would be most surprised to know about you?
I think readers will be surprised to know that I have a habit known as Trichotillomania in which pulling out my hair feels relaxing and rewarding to me. I think they would be surprised to know that growing up with Trich - as it's known in the community- I felt like I was the 'only one' and 'weird' and 'abnormal' from all the other girls at school because I had this condition. They might be surprised to know it's a healing journey that I am on still.
13. What drives you and What is your ultimate goal?
What drives me is the personal responsibility I feel to keep growing and share my experience and learnings with up and comers and the world. I have been born into a modest family from Ipswich Qld, who instilled in me the drive to go for my dreams and that commitment to work and loving what you do is most important.
My ultimate goal is to keep growing in all aspects of my life and career and to make a difference and spread joy along the journey. The big reason I began my business is so I can leave something I created for my children ( who arena't even born yet) haha to be proud of!
14. Can you tell us more about your "Performers Clear Vision" ebook and your "Nerves To Superb" audio program? Who are they designed for?
The Performers Clear Vision is a 56 page ebook, written simply for the performer who is just starting out ...or needs a little more inspiration back into their career. I talk about the mindset needed to maintain a successful and easily manageable career and teach the reader how to set easy and super effective goals for themselves.
The Nerves To Superb is a cool visualisation/hypnosis audio program I developed for performers who are already auditioning. There are 3 cd's which are so short and easy to put on your ipod and take with you on the plane, or train including ones for calm confidence which is great for performers who are not being the best in auditions or networking events because their nerves are getting in their way. The other 2 are for opening up to your creativity and preparing mentally for events. They are great cd's because I talk right to your subconscious mind where studies have shown the depth of your potential lives and you don't need to lift a finger. Frequency for this program is the key though! You never go to the gym just once hoping for 10kg loss do you!: )
15. And finally - What is your message to people who want to pursue their dream and can't find the willpwoer to realize it?
Scrap willpower and take action. Stop waiting for motivation to magically show up. We are conditioned as humans to maintain the staus quo and not take risks outside our comfort zone because---ah we might die or lose money or whatever it is. If you can be ok with losing everything again that's the biggest motivator. I always know I can get a job tomorrow working in a cafe- and I know that from there I can survive and build myself up again.
Forget about getting over whelmed about the big dream and the what if's about it happening or not happening. Break that dream down into bite sized chunks that might lead you there and then break them down into smaller chuncks and start with the smallest chunks today. Easy, little action steps each day lead to momentum and you have more chance of realising your dreams with momentum backing you.
Do less things- more often and consistently doing that- you will be on the way to realising your dreams.
Bex Grennan focuses on helping actors, performers and creative entrepreneurs achieve better results in their work or personal life. Visit Stage 2 Coaching or follow her on Twitter at @BexGrennan.