Taking Credit

31 05 2016

I have had quite a few discussions about this lately… and I want to talk about it – as it’s something that bothers me immensely as a teacher AND as a student.

I was coaching with an actor out of another country via Skype about 2.5 years ago.  I wanted to have another opinion on what I was auditioning for – BESIDES my own – and I love the collaborative feel of working NOT ALONE.

Fairly early in our process together, it became clear to me that this coach wanted to make me dependent on them – in the way that a bad therapist makes the patient feel like they are never going to be “well” in order to extend the life of their professional relationship (and the money that it generates.) (Kudos to the good therapists who DON’T do this – I know there are many of you!)  So, I broke off the relationship, and felt like I could breathe again.  I cited money issues, when I should have been honest about how this coach made me feel completely inept…

A month or so after I separated from this coach, I booked The Walking Dead.  The coach posted on his webpage about how Ann Mahoney, HIS STUDENT, had booked The Walking Dead.  I was livid.  And again, I didn’t attack him the way I should have.  It should have sounded something like this:  “I have been onstage since I was 4, I got my BA and MFA in Acting, and have been professionally pursuing this for 17 years.  I had THREE sessions with you – that I PAID you for, and you are taking credit for my WALKING DEAD booking???”

Teachers, coaches, etc you need to be careful.  It is tempting to see the success of a student, and pat yourself on the back, and tell the world how “you taught them.”  But in truth, as a teacher ALSO, I can tell you that it is essential to not take credit for your students’ success.  Especially in a way that indicates you think that student OWES you for their success.  Especially if they PAID for that education in some way – tuition, coaching fees, a workshop, etc.

If the student wants to identify you as a mentor, an influence – fine.  But to take that status as the student’s SAVIOR, and the ONE WHO MADE THEIR CAREER is egotism tinged with jealousy in a lot of cases.  The student has talent, and drive, and individuality, and tenacity, and you may have taught that student some important stuff…. but their success – is THEIRS.  Don’t take it away from them.  Be proud and shut your mouth.


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