Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Actors become different characters, they develop a skill to become whatever the role demands. We can all aspire to become better characters of ourselves – to improve and develop

Article by Malcolm Levene

I really do enjoy going to the movies. I might add, I don’t experience every movie as being enjoyable. However, even disappointing films can teach us about how to avoid making similar mistakes in our lives. I’ve been obsessed with cinema since I was a young lad – I used to go to Saturday morning pictures regularly. In a way, I suppose, it was about escaping a humdrum life. It also enabled my imagination to expand. In addition, it helped me go from having an East London accent to a greatly improved vocabulary, improved cadence and better timbre. The main reasons being, I kind of mimicked stars like Cary Grant and various British actors of the time. Although Mr Grant’s accent had a mid-Atlantic drawl, I believe it came across as charismatic. He was also debonair and suave.

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Accomplished actors illustrate how we can all become different characters. For instance, an excellent actor can play a villain or a hero, a historical figure, even a science fiction character convincingly. In short, with effort we can all become (within reason), whoever we want to be. I know, talent, opportunity and experience are vital ingredients. However, as Amy Cuddy says, Fake it until you become it. That is how I went from having a (soft) Cockney accent to acquiring a non-distinguishable one. Have you ever felt you were born into the wrong family? I’ve met many men and women who felt that way. I certainly did. My movie going enabled me to become more sophisticated and somewhat more refined. It also inspired and motivated me to improve myself.

As many actors do: developing a skill that enables them to become whatever the role demands of them – so much so it can become second nature. I’m not saying this is an easy thing to do. I am saying, make the effort and aspire to achieve more; as is said, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” I’ve found this to be the case throughout my life. In many ways it’s about taking risks. Not to focus on how many times we fail, but how many times we are able to recover. Not many have the capacity to pick themselves up, that’s why there are so few that can. Begin by practicing, as it’s practice that improves our ability to learn new behavioural patterns, different attitudes and new skills.

I don’t believe that practice makes perfect, I do think it enables us to make significant improvements. Many are far too aware of failing, I suggest we focus on succeeding. Many experts tell us that we get more of what we focus on. If we believe that to be accurate, let’s spend more time in the likelihood of positive outcomes. Therefore, it’s best if we prime our brains in a much more helpful fashion. This is the way most successful people continue to hone their skills. They focus on what they do well. Fact is, the most successful, never stop learning. They continue to be curious, empathetic and very specific regarding their desired outcomes. Yes, it’s being truly specific that makes our goals come to life.

No, not everything goes well for us because of positive thinking. Nor will it by imitating famous film stars. What will likely occur – is that your thinking will change, your attitude and behaviour will readjust to an improved version of you. In saying that, when we do focus totally on the positive, our mind is less hindered by unhelpful irritations. These are the kind of interruptions that road-block us to making progress. A good way to begin is to consider who your role models are. And more importantly, why. That way you’ll gain more clarity as to what you’d like to possibly replicate. Remember, you are not trying to mimic but to transform parts of yourself so that it resembles specific aspects of your role models you admire. Important you discover your way to improve your life. Trust yourself, because you know best.

Some tips:

  • Have patience.
  • Be less hard on yourself.
  • Think outside your box.
  • Defining yourself is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Before taking action, consider what your role model would do.
  • Be a regular film goer…. but be selective. riddle_stop 2


Malcolm is presenting a seminar on Brand New Year, Brand New You at London Metropolitan University on Tuesday February 12th. 

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