Gobs on Sticks

Thoughts mostly (but not always) about the voice-over business, from London Voiceover Artist, Mike Cooper

  • About the author

    My name is Mike Cooper. I'm a full time Voiceover Artist living and working in London, and this is my blog. Find out more about me on my main website (there's a link further down this column), or if you'd like to hear some of my work, check out the files below.
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The Things That Dreams Are Made Of

Posted by MikeCooper on March 9, 2009

Did you bring some loose clothing? Good. This time around we’re going to change down a gear or two and move away from the nuts and bolts, temporarily. Today’s post on getting started in the world of voiceovers is an exercise in dreaming (you should be breathing more deeply and slowly already, but do try to stay awake for now…)

When I was training as a coach a couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to work with a coach called Michael Neil who, as well as being an NLP trainer and all round nice guy, is something of a celebrity in coaching circles (you can find him here). Michael has a phrase which I love, which he uses when he’s trying to get people to imagine their perfect future. On his radio show you often hear him caution his callers against exercising what he calls “premature practicality”. Those two words sum up perfectly for me what most of us are guilty of doing whenever we try to think about what we want. We start trying to imagine our dream outcome, and before the pictures have even formed, that voice in the back of our head chimes in and starts telling us all the reasons why whatever we’re dreaming couldn’t possibly happen.

Beware of that voice. As someone pointed out to me (it might have been Michael again – he’s full of this sort of stuff), “That’s not the voice of God. It just sounds like it thinks it is…” 

That voice you hear is your internal saboteur, and you need to watch out for it, recognise it, and keep it in check. It’s not that it’s a bad thing, that voice: it’s just trying to protect you. As human beings our natural state is inertia. Change isn’t comfortable, especially when there’s a danger of failing and getting ourselves bruised – either mentally or physically – in the process. But if you’re going to make it in this new career you’ve chosen, then you’re going to have to take yourself out of your comfort zone. Tell that doubting voice that you realise it’s only trying to help, but that it just needs to cut you some slack. You’re only dreaming, after all (for now…)

So, here’s something you can try. Close your eyes (not just yet – when you’ve finished reading this paragraph will do) and allow yourself to imagine yourself sitting right where you are, but a year on from now. You’re holding a copy of your voiceover CV in your hand which details the best of the projects you’ve booked so far. What’s on the list?

Now glance down at your future diary for the month ahead. Who’s booking you? Where’s your work coming from? Are you surprised at how much is there? If so, that’s great: you’re visualising a successful future for yourself. If not, then make sure that nagging voice isn’t stopping you from getting there (making a gentle “shushing” noise out loud might help, but don’t do this public transport – it unnerves those who are less enlightened…)

If it is feeling good then play with it a bit more… close your eyes again and drift on down the timeline to a point two years hence. What’s that client list looking like now? What about five years from now?

Don’t knock this stuff, even if it sounds whacky. It can be very powerful, and doing an exercise like this on a regular basis can have profound effects. People who take time out to visualise regularly and who allow themselves to immerse themselves in it are prone to having insights that their conscious mind wouldn’t normally entertain, and it can be a great way to remove your mental blocks on how to move forward. If you have success doing this, please use the comments form below and write and tell me (I’m cool with it if you don’t want your comment published – just let me know). If you find this post helpful and would like to hear more of this sort of stuff, let me know that too.

This is just one example of a dreaming or visualisation exercise; there are lots more, and there are plenty of books and visualisation aids that can help with this. Coaches are excellent at it too. Some money spent on either could be one of the most useful investments you make in getting your career off the ground and moving in a wonderful direction.

Before we wrap this up and send you away wearing flowers in your hair, here’s a quote I really like from Marianne Richardson, an American spiritual activist, author and lecturer, who sums this what I’ve been trying to get at rather eloquently. She says:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.”

Meditate on this a while; repeat the exercises above and give yourself permission to do some dreaming about the career you really want. You might surprise yourself, and that’s probably a good thing.

OK, my kaftan’s going back in the cupboard and there’ll be some more of that straight talking you’ve told me you like next time around. But the last word, along with the title of this post, goes to Depeche Mode. They might not have the eloquence of Marianne, but sometimes a little bit of 80s electropop helps to clarify things better than anything…

“Dream life the way you think it ought to be
See things you thought you’d never ever see…

These are the things
These are the things
The things that dreams are made of…”


2 Responses to “The Things That Dreams Are Made Of”

  1. Hey Mike – WOW…You responded to a voice123 talent, Marni Naughten, today. The title of her thing was “Not quite a newbie question” From that I decided to check out your blog and read the AWESOME article on the things that dreams are made of! I am a FULL ON dreamer myself and actually a bit newer to the VO game than Marni having uploaded my profile to voice123 on Dec 18, 2008. I am re-launching a voice over career that I started in 1997 while in South Africa with my family doing community development work. I would be very interested to chat further with you about my dreams, etc. Cheers – Mike – Chicago

  2. mikecooper said

    Hi Mike (good name btw…)

    Great to hear from you and I’m really happy you enjoyed the blog! I’m always happy to chat. Do check out the Voice123 forums too, which are a great place to meet other talents, compare notes and so on! More to come in this series shortly – don’t forget to subscribe!


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