Recognition on Mother’s Day

As I scrolled through the Mother’s Day Facebook posts, I began to see many people who acknowledged their unconventional relationships with their mothers: strained, estranged, abusive, or simply non-existent either by death or choice. This made me think of how many of us don’t get the support and nurturing we need, even when Mom is doing the best she can. It made me remember that as long as we continue look outside of ourselves for recognition, we will never be satisfied.

Being an entrepreneur takes tons of work, energy, time, and money with no guaranteed results. Sometimes it seems fruitless, definitely thankless. I mean who is gonna thank us? Who is gonna give us a promotion or a plaque for a job well done at our company? Promotions and awards exist to encourage loyalty and future productivity from worthy employees. Well aren’t we worthy employees? Don’t we deserve a promotion? A frickin’ plaque on the wall?

How we see ourselves is a choice.

In truth, we are the CEO, manager, and the most important employee of our “company”. If we don’t recognize all the work we do, we’re gonna get discouraged and slack off. Here are two examples of how I gave myself recognition this year.

1.) A while ago, I dipped my toe into social media as an actor even though I have no celebrity status. I did something small by simply taking audition selfies and describing them to the world. My goal was to share a variety of photos that reflected each specific role I auditioned for. While most of my peers fear the backlash of “on-line bragging”, I was surprised to see how much people liked it. My business coach reflected back to me how thoughtful and effective this kind of share was. She pointed out how my Instagram wall was a pastiche of characters that spoke to my commitment as an actor – not a list of random audition brags. Yeah, I work my ass off every single time, and I deserve to be recognized for it. This was my “plaque on the wall”.

2.) I had been working with a small, barely effective talent agency for two years, because at the time I signed with them I felt it was the best I could do theatrically. As I began to book jobs, I felt a subservient gratefulness to them since I was in fact getting out more than I had been in the last several years. Again, my business coach pointed to my successes and reminded me that I needed to find an agent who could up my game. I was scared and insecure – I needed a “mama” to push me out of the nest, so to speak. (My mom loves me, but this is not her department.) After composing an exquisite cover letter and sending out several submissions, I signed with an agency who has “upped my game” dramatically in just a matter of weeks. It was, and is, up to me to give myself that “promotion” in my company.

I’m an actor, yes, but I named my marketing company The Recognized Actor, because I believe that every person’s deepest desire is to be seen. Some confuse this with a desire for fame, but the real need is recognition for what we contribute to our tribes. If we look outside of ourselves for it, we are seduced into traps of following rules, people-pleasing, or working “hard”. Outside recognition, because of its transitory nature, is never satisfying. The only satisfying recognition comes from within.