FLOW…the Secret to WINNING !

By Gwyn Gilliss

Ever watch teenagers skateboard or snowboard? Or children in a sandbox pretending to be princesses and dragons…or anything from a fairytale. They’re having FUN and they’re playing! They’re having so much fun they become lost in a “zone”- a creative flow where everything is possible. You might read the book “Flow” by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi- “What makes a life worth living?” Noting that money cannot make us happy, he looks to those who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of “flow.”
Those in Flow are full of jubilant enthusiasm, courage, joy and fearlessness.

These are the six qualities of “flow”-

  1. intense and focused concentration on the present moment
  2. merging of action and awareness
  3. a loss of reflective self-consciousness
  4. a sense of personal control over the situation or activity
  5. a distortion of temporal experience, one’s subjective experience of time is altered
  6. experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding.

“The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture while performing a task”

How does this relate to being an actor?

There’s something valuable to be learned from being in flow- “in the zone”. It frees you from fear, judgment and self-consciousness- all enemies to a successful audition or performance.

But, how do you keep the joyfulness alive with something you love to do when there’s a hundred reasons to give up, when the competition is outstanding, when you perceive that you’ve screwed up and failed? What do you do when you think you’re great (and you’re really very good) but the Network Executives/Producers in Primetime TV don’t hire you as expected? How do you continue when you lose? What do you do?

You develop your own style AND a system for winning! You focus on being in the zone while having a backup support. You work both angles- marketing and mindset.
Here are a few consistent things that all successful performers in “Flow”- whether in sports, the arts or business- have in their lives-

  1. A strong support group – your friends and family- sisters, brothers, boyfriends, girlfriends, Moms and Dads who lend their energy, love and belief in you. Winners aren’t loners trying to get there with their own speed- There is a wind beneath their sails and it’s personal! Find your personal support group who’s fun to be with.
  2. Professional support – Your team-those people who keep giving funds, costs of training, publicity and guidance through all the up and down times. There is a process, a pattern, a checklist- every winner learns the steps they have to take to be the best they can be. Find and accept professional support-then create your own winner checklist.
  3. Coaches – They help with planning, tweaking the performance of their protégés- ego aside- it’s necessary to keep revising and perfecting, re-inventing and creating a “new, exciting program or project that is uniquely yours. Good coaches push hard- there’s no mollifying or ego-stroking. If you’re going to be the best or very, very good you need honesty and a heartfelt kick from time to time. Accept the guidance as an act of love and commitment- find a coach you can trust.
  4. An optimistic but realistic approach. Even if things went wrong you’ll hear winners say-“Well, I did my best…miscalculated on that last move (audition, deal)…but I know how to correct it next time.” Winners face the reality and fix their flaws, handicaps, limitations and make them disappear. They don’t blame the other guy – the scoreboard, the weather, their physical strain, competition, casting directors, company politics, the economy. They adjust. They take it on the chin and go forward…getting back into “flow”.
  5. A never give up attitude – I’ll be back to try again next time…For Olympic competitors that could be 4 years…4 years? To win in politics- could be 6 or 8 years. Imagine waiting years to audition for another big role! Could you do that?…all the while training, perfecting, developing, changing, never seeing it as a chore but as a love. These are the qualities that sports stars, politicians, top Business CEO’s and actors have in common. Persistence to achieve what they love doing no matter how long it takes.
  6. Playfulness/Focus on the FUN. Winners remember to have fun while working endless hours, days, weeks, months, years for the sake of enjoying the activity. So do the best actors. When it becomes a chore or an agony you are no longer in the “zone” of winning, walk away. Take time off. There are plenty of gold medalists, politicians, CEO’s , movie stars who have done that and then come back with a renewed “spirit”. It’s about your joy and happiness in the first place. You simply learn to deal with the realities in the process but you keep your “spirit” of joy. That’s Flow.

And the reward? If you hang in there long enough and perfect what you’re doing, focus on every interview and audition-that’s Flow…then, you’re already a Winner! The roles will come, the agents, managers, a successful team will be there for you and the opportunities to work with other winners will appear. Believe me, I know!


Having been selected by major NY and LA Agents, Casting Directors and Personal Managers as the “Foremost Marketing Coach for Actors”, Gwyn was a successful actor herself working in all medias. An Emmy Award nominated contract player she appeared in dozens of ABC and CBS daytime and primetime series including: All My Children, The Lucy Arnaz Show (CBS) and Woman of Valor (NBC- Emmy Award) as well as on and off Broadway and in classical Repertory theater productions- from Shakespeare, Moliere and Tennessee Williams to Noel Coward.

After studying drama at Carnegie-Mellon, Gwyn studied economics at Harvard and Political Science at Oxford University. She was a guest professor in the MFA drama program at Yale and University of California, Irvine. Gwyn founded Laight Street Films in Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca film community, creating Bloggers, a comedy pilot (HBO style). Her film, Fairytale recently shot in Paris and the south of France was well received at the Festival of Cannes. Currently she has a dramatic series, Enraptured optioned for TV production in Australia , a comedy sitcom, HOT AIR in development in NYC and a film, Heavenly Heist in pre-production in London.

Gwyn is the premier role model with winning strategies and first-hand knowledge of the TV, Film and Theater Industries which she willing shares to help new actors succeed.

For more information about her ONE-on-ONE coaching programs and to chat with Gwyn about your career- request a free 15 minute career session, contact her www.gwyngilliss.com/contact