I learned a new word today: Omphaloskepsis.
It means navel-gazing, and it has nothing to do with people staring at oranges. It actually refers to the contemplation of one’s navel during meditation.
We also use navel-gazing to describe the act of excessively focusing on one’s personal problems or concerns, to the exclusion of other people or other issues.
We call certain people “navel-gazers” when they are thinking about something for a long time but take no action on it.
If I’m honest, I think the world of voice overs is filled with navel gazers; people who live in a voice over bubble who eat, drink, and breathe voice overs. They belong to more than twelve VO Facebook groups, they listen to at least five VO podcasts, and they can’t stop reading VO books and blogs (including this one).
They constantly absorb information about the business, hoping it will make them more successful.
I’ll be blunt: if information alone could change people, no one would ever drink and drive, smoke, or be addicted to anything. We’d just give people brochures on how bad these behaviors are, and they would stop immediately. Knowledge is power, right?
Not really. We all know it doesn’t work that way, and yet we keep on taking in more facts.
Now, it’s not a bad thing in and of itself to want to learn more about your profession. However, it IS a bad thing to excessively and obsessively focus on it.
You see, I didn’t become a somewhat successful voice over by learning all there is to learn about VO. A great part of why people know me has nothing to do with my voice. It is because I studied marketing, music, content creation, foreign languages, psychology, different cultures, running a freelance business, handling money, et cetera.
These are things that are rarely discussed in voice over groups, podcasts, or blogs. We’d rather blabber on about which microphone is best, or how to deal with barking dogs, leaf blowers, and cheap clients. It’s the same when you go to VO conferences. The “fun” seminars are sold out quickly, and the business-related presentations fill up slowly or not at all.
So, where do you go when you need real advice? Do you poll your peeps on LinkedIn?
Einstein famously said: “A problem is never solved on the level on which it is created.”
For instance, we will never solve the problem of congestion by building more cars.
Searching for new solutions means going outside of what’s familiar, and exploring unfamiliar territory.
That means that when you run into career challenges, I recommend you go OUTSIDE of your VO echo chamber to find answers. That’s the way to discover solutions that haven’t been suggested a million times in regurgitating FB groups.
THE WRONG APPROACH
So, don’t ask the question “How do I find more voice over work?” in a voice over group. People will tell you all the things that have been done before. If you want to make a mark, you need to try things that no one in your bubble has ever tried. Does that make sense?
Let’s say you’re a professional chef looking to create a unique menu for your restaurant. The last thing you want to do is ask colleagues what’s on their plate. You want to travel to other countries and find new ingredients, new flavors and spices, and turn that into something of your own. Don’t imitate. Explore and create!
But there’s an even more important reason to turn to the unfamiliar. For that we have to get a bit more philosophical:
What is known, is finite. It’s limited.
What is unknown, is infinite. It’s unlimited.
This is as true about the universe, as it is about the human mind. Our problems are created because of our limitation to see the solution. Problems get us stuck in the here and the now. If we wish to move forward in any area of our life, we have to get in touch with the realm of unlimited possibilities. Staring at our navel isn’t going to help.
Considering all of the above, the next question is super simple: How to get in touch with the infinite?
To bring it down to a more practical instead of a metaphysical level, when I face challenges in my voice over business, I will look for uncommon solutions outside of that business (remember Einstein?). If, let’s say, I want to make more money, attracting more work by lowering my rate isn’t going to help. I’ll end up doing more for less, cheapening the industry.
Instead, I should really examine my beliefs about money, self-worth, and prosperity that may be keeping me from charging more for my work. Instead of turning to colleagues on Facebook for advice, I could consult a therapist and dig a bit deeper into what’s keeping me from getting what I think I’m worth.
Perhaps this therapist will use hypnosis to help me get in touch with my resourceful self, and have my unconscious mind generate solutions. The more logical conscious mind is limited. The more creative unconscious mind is infinite.
OFF MY ROCKER
Before you think I’ve gone all woo woo, there are many ways to get in touch with that part of ourselves that is creative and solution-oriented. We usually access that part when we’re daydreaming, sleeping, when we’re meditating, when we take walks in nature, listen to music, and even when we’re working out. It happens when we’re not focused on the problem.
Did you ever try to remember something and the more you try to think about it, the harder it is to remember? But ten minutes later, when you’re not thinking about it, it comes back to you?
That’s an example of your conscious mind fixating on something unsuccessfully, and your unconscious mind telling you what you need to know when you’re not obsessing over it. The problem is that our conscious, rational mind is often so loud, that it drowns out the unconscious mind which is more quiet and intuitive.
The unconscious mind loves to make associations. It makes connections by presenting us with images, sounds, and feelings that literally go beyond words. Remember: words are limitations because they describe things. They are not what they describe. That’s why the word “water” doesn’t make you wet.
FINDING YOUR WAY
You don’t have to be a Carlos Castaneda and use hallucinatory drugs to tap into that part of you that comes up with uncommon solutions. All you need to do is find something that takes you out of your ordinary thinking patterns. I often read books or articles that have nothing to do with voice overs, that give me an insight I can use in my business. Long, hot showers are very useful too!
When I’m stuck, omphaloskepsis doesn’t help.
I will often improvise at the piano and think about nothing.
And when I’m done, I almost always know what to do.