The Right Manager

You walk toward the set to get ready for another day of shooting. The cameras are in position, and off to one side the screenwriter is discussing script changes with the director.

They hand you today’s shooting script, so you start going through it. Many of your lines you already know, but a significant portion has been changed. As you read the new stuff, you get a sinking feeling. The screenwriter is taking your character in a direction that simply doesn’t ring true.

You raise your objection with the director: “I really think this is a bad idea. We have a great character here, with a lot of potential. If we take everything down this path, we’ll miss many opportunities to exploit that potential.”

“I understand your disagreement,” the director says, “but you have an obligation to the studio to perform your scenes exactly as they are written.”

You realize the director is right: you have no choice. You must play your part despite your misgivings. You do a good job as always, but the dissatisfaction remains. When the day’s work is done and you leave the set, you are still upset.

You meet your friend for dinner, and you can’t help but bring up your feelings of helpless frustration: “They are totally wasting my character, but my contract prevents me from doing anything about it, so basically I’m screwed.”

Your friend asks: “When you signed the contract, why didn’t you put in the clause that gives you the power to change the script?”

“I had no idea you could add such a clause. I was just starting out and didn’t even have an agent.”

“You could just pick one from the Guild of Directors’ list of talent managers. That’s what most actors do, and it’s worked out well for some of them.”

“I know, and I did contact a few managers. They were all very nice, but not quite right for me. I felt they focused more on the business than my career, and I wanted something more.”

“In that case, there’s another outfit you can try. It’s called the Talent Agency Organization.”

“Never heard of them.”

“A lot of people haven’t. It’s a well-kept secret.”

You visit the Talent Agency Organization and describe your situation. They tell you it is quite common. “Many actors are just like you, forced to endure poorly written roles and follow the studio’s every whim. We can help.”

“I don’t see how you can. My contract with the studio —”

“Can be revised. We will renegotiate it on your behalf.”

“You can do that? But — how is it possible?”

“It is very possible because of your central importance to this production. Let’s get one thing straight: you are the star. Without you there is no movie.”

“Oh, I’m sure they can always find someone else.”

“For other movies, maybe. For this one, definitely not. They went to incredible lengths to cast you. Out of the countless actors they auditioned, they chose you as the only one who can fill the role. That makes you indispensable, and we can use it as leverage to get you the power you need to make changes.”

In your next meeting with the Talent Agency Organization, they give you the good news: they have finalized the contract revisions for you, exactly as promised. Excited, you start talking about all the changes you want to make.

They give you a note of caution: “Slow down. In the past, we have seen actors get too fired up after we got them favorable terms. They thought they could do whatever they wanted right away, but they ended up alienating everyone and achieved nothing.”

“Oh,” you bring your excitement under control. “I wouldn’t want that. How should I go about it then?”

“Do not dictate immediate changes in your character, because then you’ll end up with a plot that makes little sense. You cannot go from pauper to prince with no transition in between. You have to work with the screenwriter to come up with incremental, reasonable changes over multiple scenes in order to make the transformation believable to the audience.”

“Okay, a little at a time. Got it.”

You look over your new contract. It says you have the authority to change the script. This authority, you begin to realize, isn’t just limited to the lines spoken by your character. It includes the entire script, and that means you can also make changes to the overall story.

You consider the plot of the movie. How can it be improved? What would be the most meaningful way to tell the story? How should it end? You have the power to decide, not just some of it but all of it. Is that cool or what?

You recall the note of caution, and take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down.

No question – the Talent Agency Organization has come through for you with fantastic effectiveness. As you reflect in gratitude, you know that you have found not just representation, but also a valuable partner. You have found… the right manager.

The Tao

Shakespeare wrote: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” This would make your life a play. It is the drama in which we all perform. In this day and age, that drama doesn’t have to take the form of a stage play — it can also be a TV show or a movie.

The things that happen in our lives may seem random, but really aren’t. We know events have causes and effects, so as we move through life, we are basically experiencing one effect after another. These effects are predetermined by their associated causes — in other words, they are scripted, and karma is the author.

We often know what to expect in life, but not always. Karma does not take our feelings and preferences into account as it determines the plot twists that will happen to us. Thus, we can find ourselves facing an unexpected development, perhaps a setback, or a disappointing turn of events.

We all possess enormous potential, but many of us fail to really tap into it. Usually, our lives do not play out the way we wish they would, and obstacles get in the way. We are forced to deal with these obstacles, while our potential sits idle and goes to waste. We may feel unhappy about this, but there appears to be nothing we can do. The script has been written, and we have no choice but to follow it.

Acting coaches and entertainment industry insiders all emphasize the importance of representation for actors. The right manager can guide your career, find the perfect roles, and fight for your rights. Similarly, the importance of spirituality in our lives cannot be emphasized enough. People who do not enjoy the benefits of its guidance are like actors without representation. Some of them will realize that they are not happy with their careers, and there is something vital that they are missing.

There are many forms of spirituality, just as there are many agents in Hollywood. Many people go with mainstream religions, and some of them do get excellent results. But one size does not fit all when it comes to spirituality, so there will always be individuals who need something different. Who should you pick as the right manager for you? God? Jesus? Allah? Buddha? Lao Tzu? The Tao? There are no bad choices. It is a matter of individual preference.

The Tao still isn’t well understood, perhaps because it isn’t a religion in the conventional sense. It still isn’t well known, perhaps because its true essence does not include crusades or aggressive proselytizing conversions. Far from being disadvantages, these are part of its appeal.

In the Tao, we learn that we all have a tendency to misunderstand the true nature of our importance. Sometimes we imagine ourselves to be much more important to others than we really are, and thus become arrogant. At the same time, we forget our true importance to ourselves, in our own lives. This is why we may feel helpless in the face of setbacks — we forget that we have the power to change our own reality. We imagine that we are at the mercy of fate, led around by the nose.

Your importance comes from the fact that you won the audition and landed the leading role. This audition is none other than your conception. In that great contest, you alone emerged from millions and millions of competitorsto finish first. That is why you are the only actor who can possibly star in the drama of your life. No other actor will do. This gives you more clout than you may realize.

Thus, the power to make profound life changes is already present in you.You’ve had it all along. It is your birthright. What the Tao can do is help you rediscover this power within so you can utilize it to your benefit. With the Tao, you can transcend your fate, and design your destiny to match your heart’s desire.

However, the Tao isn’t a magic wand. It may be the supreme power of existence, but you cannot wave it around and expect it to solve all your problems with the snap of a finger. It is the Way, and once it reveals itself to you, it will be up to you to walk it.

The process of walking the Tao is decidedly unglamorous. It is simply putting one step in front of the other. Over time, these little steps add up to a huge distance, which manifests as significant and permanent changes in your life. Unlike flashy self-improvement gurus, the Tao cannot promise instantaneous and effortless transformation; also unlike them, the Tao is real and lasting.

There is one final question we should ask ourselves. It the most important question of all: if all the world’s a stage, then… what kind of movie is your life? Is it a horror movie? Greek tragedy? Let us hope not.

Think about this carefully. How will your personal movie play out?

Will you overcome your challenges and solve your problems?

Will you defeat the villains and survive the adventure?

Will you find the lost treasures? True love? Both?

Will you ride off into the sunset?

If your karmic script is depicting a different kind of movie than what you have in mind, then it is time to visit the right manager. Let the Tao guide you through the rewriting process. Let it help you create a critically acclaimed, blockbuster smash hit.

Here’s to you… and your happy ending!

Derek Lin
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