The Hollywood awards season has got me really thinking about what its like being at the top of your game; about how important it is to retain that spot once you get there; and the pressure to keep going up, even when you've run out of mountain.
However, winning an award like that means different things to different people.
For some, it's about recognition of hard work and dedication, making everything you have done and sacrificed worthwhile. For others, it's about ego and "branding" where your confidence is built through the knowledge that others think you're pretty alright. For others still, it's about quiet confirmation for personal achievements. Sometimes, it's a combination of these things, and sometimes it's about something else entirely, unique to the individual.
But once you've thanked the Academy, shed a tear, smiled for the camera and placed that trophy in a prominent position in your home (or in your bathroom so guests can practice their acceptance speech in the mirror, like at Kate Winslet's house), how do you go back to "normal"?
There is actually such a thing as the "Oscars Curse." Once you win an award like that, opportunities tend to land in your lap that you otherwise would have had to fight for. The challenge becomes what to choose next, and the pressure of this decision can either create a diamond, or crush you like a bug.
Halle Berry, Mira Sorvino, Cuba Gooding Jnr, Adrien Brody, and even Geena Davis have all suffered significant box-office flops since standing on the stage, clutching their golden statuette. Then there are stars like Katharine Hepburn who went on to win three more Oscars after her first, and Meryl Streep who has been nominated 21 times and taken home three gongs.
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If you Google what to do after you've won an award, the results that come up are all about self-promotion and how to announce your win. But when the dust settles (literally and figuratively), what then? Do you just go for quantity?
Awards programs are usually a conscious decision. You need to apply for them, go through an interview process, and generally demonstrate your successes to a panel of judges. You don't generally find yourself on a stage without actually seeking it out. So, it's important to approach this process with a plan.
Australians are typically humble about their achievements, and often find it challenging to promote themselves and their achievements for fear of seeming pretentious or arrogant. I see this all the time in working with clients who are applying for jobs - yet resumes and awards programs are two areas where it's okay to own your accomplishments.
You firstly need to ask yourself why you are applying to be a part of an awards program. Is it personal, for example, building your self-confidence, seeking validation, or proving to yourself that you can do it; or is it about industry recognition and all that that entails: promotional or business opportunities, media and branding engagement, marketing collateral? Once you have identified your "why" with regards to this, you can move onto the "how."
Your second step involves crafting your narrative around what you want to be known for. If your reasons are personal, then you need to focus on accomplishments that meet those goals of confidence-building and validation; if they are more professional, then build a strategy around the accomplishments you want others to know about, what will give you the collateral you need to leverage your achievement in the market place. Regardless of your reasons "why", your "how" is all about goal setting and building a plan scaffolded to that.
Finally, you need to have an encore planned. I don't mean literally, I am talking about a plan of action for after you've won (let's think positive!). How do you plan to share your win with others? Once you have the award on your shelf, what will this mean for you personally and professionally and how will you use that confidence, validation, and recognition to further your goals? However, if you don't come home with a dust-collector for your shelf, think about how you could change up your strategy for next year.
However, regardless of what award you're going for, perhaps the most important takeaway from last week on Planet Hollywood is to try to avoid public jokes about other people's health conditions and for God's sake, don't hit anyone.
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