The Power of Enthusiasm

Eckhart and Oprah: Models of enthusiasm!

Eckhart and Oprah: Models of enthusiasm!

I was in a coaching session the other day and something came up that, immediately afterward, I thought, “This is something I have to share.” My client, a writer, was frustrated because he was showing up every day to commit to his writing, but he wasn’t feeling it. Something was missing and he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. This is actually something that I uncover all too often in coaching sessions — people doing the right things, making progress toward their goals (or not), but somehow feeling “off” about the entirety of it all. A lot of times, it turns out that they’re lacking perhaps the most important part of the process, and that, my friends, is ENTHUSIASM.

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I am a huge fan of Eckhart Tolle, and in his book A New Earth, Tolle defines enthusiasm as “…a deep enjoyment in what you do plus the added element of a goal or a vision that you work toward.” The idea there is one of harmony — it’s not that you just have a deep enjoyment of something, nor that you just have a goal. It’s a combination of the two, each feeding the other. Tolle goes on to say, “At the height of creative activity fueled by enthusiasm, there will be enormous intensity and energy behind what you do. You will feel like an arrow that is moving toward the target — and enjoying the journey.”

Those of you who’ve ever experienced that kind of enthusiasm know that it’s one of the most incredible feelings in the world. It makes the work suddenly not feel like work. Your ego detaches from the experience and your inner critics fade into the background. Everything feels right. And this is supremely important when it comes to working toward your goals because without enthusiasm, that journey becomes a real slog. It doesn’t matter if you’re working toward what you want — if you’re not enthused about how you’re going to get there, you’re not going to want to put the effort in.


This is what happens when your enthusiasm is curbed…

So what happens when you lose your enthusiasm? Does that mean you should just throw in the towel and move on? No. It’s not the end of the road. When this happens to my clients, I try to get them to take a look at their goal and remember what it was that got them so excited in the first place. Revisiting that initial enthusiasm is often enough to get a spark going again — think of that goal in its purest sense and how it makes you feel when you imagine accomplishing it. Hopefully, you get a rush of adrenaline or some butterflies in your stomach, and this is what you need to channel when approaching the work that needs to do be done in order to reach that goal. Excitement and sense of purpose — that’s enthusiasm.

And what if you revisit your goal and the excitement’s just not there? Well, then it’s time to reevaluate. What’s changed since you set that goal? Was your initial enthusiasm fleeting? Is there something else that has captivated you since then? Whatever it is needs to be addressed, because without enthusiasm, the chances of you succeeding are slim. This is something we do often in coaching sessions — when the enthusiasm fades, we go to the core of the matter and evaluate the overarching goal, poking and prodding it to find out what the issues are and what can be done to reignite the passion that was originally there. Sometimes it’s a simple process, and other times it involves tearing the goal apart and rebuilding it from scratch. In either case, it’s worth it.

This idea of enthusiasm has always been at the heart of what we do at Capes Coaching, which is why we end up focusing on it so often in coaching sessions — particularly as it applies to careers in the arts. As Eckhart Tolle says, “Sustained enthusiasm brings into existence a wave of creative energy, and all you have to do then is ride the wave.” I love that. But if that weren’t powerful enough, he quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson in saying, “Nothing great has ever been achieved without enthusiasm.” Now that’s something to get enthused about!

Conquering Fear: The Everyday Heroics of Stephen Colbert

september-cover-gq-colbert-01Stephen Colbert officially took over CBS’ The Late Show last night, and there was a lot riding on this transition. Stepping into those very big shoes previously filled by the legendary David Letterman — one of the most influential comedians and television personalities of the last thirty years — would be an absolutely frightening endeavor for anyone, no matter how talented. On top of that, Colbert has been very successful at playing Stephen Colbert the character for nearly a decade, and he has to prove to the world that Stephen Colbert the person is not a one-trick pony. It’s enough to induce a serious case of stage fright.

But here’s the thing: He nailed it. And one of the big reasons why? Stephen Colbert thrives on embracing failure. The latest issue of GQ magazine has an insightful and absolutely inspiring profile of Colbert, which covers everything from what it takes to mount a production the size of The Late Show to the very tragic loss of his father and brothers at the age of ten. For someone who’s endured more devastation than most will likely ever know, what’s truly amazing is how positive his outlook on life is — instead of feeling that fate has robbed him, he celebrates what life has given him. In the way he carries himself and continually pushes forward, Colbert offers up a great lesson on embracing failure in order to push past your fears.

When Colbert was about to take to the stage for the very first time in his improv career at Second City in Chicago, a longtime director gave him this advice: “You have to learn to love the bomb.” The GQ article goes on to quote:

“It took me a long time to really understand what that meant,” Colbert said. “It wasn’t ‘Don’t worry, you’ll get it next time.’ It wasn’t ‘Laugh it off.’ No, it means what it says. You gotta learn to love when you’re failing.… The embracing of that, the discomfort of failing in front of an audience, leads you to penetrate through the fear that blinds you. Fear is the mind killer.

…He said he trained himself, not just onstage but every day in life, even in his dream states, to steer toward fear rather than away from it.

That’s pretty powerful stuff. And it explains a lot about not only his success, but about the way that he approaches life itself. It’s also an idea that we’ve been teaching at Capes Coaching since the beginning. From a strictly career-based POV, the arts and entertainment industry is full of “fear pits” — those giant craters that lie directly in front of your goals and stir up what we call your “inner critics.” Whether you have to get in front of a live audience, audition for casting directors, submit your screenplay, or play your music demo, you’re constantly having to put yourself on the line in very personal ways. Rejection is always hovering somewhere nearby.

It can be so scary that those fear pits seem to grow bigger the closer you get to what you want. They can get so big, in fact, that you can convince yourself that you’ll never make it across. But, remember that scene in the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones’s double-crossing partner takes his whip and leaves him with no way to swing across a large chasm? Seeing that the temple is crumbling down around him, and realizing that the only way to survive is to jump across the chasm, Indiana takes a deep breath and jumps. Of course, he makes it, otherwise it would be a very short movie. But, I love that idea. Lacking an easy way to get across, and fearful of falling into a bottomless pit, he embraces the idea of failing and jumps.

It can seem counter-intuitve, I know. If you embrace failure, aren’t you setting yourself up to possibly manifest it? Well, the truth is that embracing failure, which is the acceptance of it as a possible outcome, is not the same as worrying about failing. The latter is pure fear, and that can be such a powerful force that it keeps you from doing anything at all. It’s paralyzing. But accepting the idea that you could very well fail at the things you are attempting will help you (to quote Colbert) “…penetrate through the fear that blinds you.”

In the end, it takes a lot of strength and courage to approach life from that angle. And Indiana Jones is obviously a movie hero — he can be saved by the hand of God (aka Steven Spielberg). But Stephen Colbert is proof that real people don’t have to be movie heroes to make heroic personal decisions every day of their lives. Failure will always be out there somewhere. But so will success. All you have to do is “Learn to love the bomb,” and jump.

Doing The Heavy Lifting

I feel your pain, Tom Hanks.

I feel your pain, Tom Hanks.

My family and I moved last week, and let me tell you, I feel lucky to have made it out with my sanity in tact. Anyone who’s ever gone through the moving process knows that I’m not being melodramatic here — at some point in the middle of the experience, when you’re sitting amidst what feels like mountains of STUFF (boxes, furniture, decor, etc.), the idea of putting your life cohesively back together feels impossible. It can be so overwhelming that you just want to give up in the hopes that someone is going to come along and rescue you (i.e., do the work for you).

For me, the main issue was feeling scattered and out of alignment. There I was, in our beautiful new home that I truly loved, but feeling unsettled. And it’s obvious why — our “life” was randomly strewn about in piles, everything needing to be gone through and put in a proper new place. When you’re in the middle of it all, staring at the entirety of your belongings heaped up here and there, it looks like a disaster. And, for me anyway, it made me feel like a bit of a disaster. Out of sync. Lacking a solid foundation.

This overwhelming sensation also has something to do with not being able to clearly see how to get from point A to point B. I could only see a mess, not the things that made up the mess. At one point, I decided to just do something. I ventured up to the bedroom while declaring to my husband that I was not to be bothered unless our daughter was in serious danger. Box cutter in hand, I shut the door and proceeded to unpack everything onto the bed while desperately trying to summon up my “inner Marie Kondo” and magically tidy up the mess in front of me. Only — ugh! — this was no better than the disaster downstairs. There was just too much shit to deal with and, once again, I felt lost, overwhelmed, and ready to throw in the towel.

Then there was this moment. Sitting amidst the piles of my life, I thought about the Path Course that we teach. I dealt with this kind of thing on a regular basis…I’ve created curriculum to help other people with this sort of thing! But, like anything else in life, it’s more difficult to practice than to preach. I laughed to myself when I realized that this is exactly what Path is all about…unpacking everything you want and clarifying your goals so you can organize them, prioritize them, and eventually make a plan to accomplish them.

I can’t tell you how many people have come to the first day of class with the same feeling that I had while staring at my boxes — unsettled, out of alignment, and scattered. And why wouldn’t they? When you have this general idea of what you want out of life, but no idea how to get there, those goals seem out of reach. They’re just this amorphous idea of something that could be possible…someday. Why wouldn’t you be out of sync if you constantly feel distanced from what you want? When thinking about the way I wanted my home to feel and contrasting that with what I was facing, it was too much. But, once I began focusing on specifics (one room at a time or — even more helpful to me — one corner of one room), I was able to begin seeing what I would have to do in order to accomplish the task. Like our Path students, once I had a plan and was able to start organizing, I felt a tremendous weight lifted off my shoulders. I had direction…a system I could rely on that fit my specific rhythms and needs.

BCHomeLook, it’s not easy. When I was lugging box after box into my new home, my thought was, “Yeesh! These are SO heavy!” But, the truth is, the REAL heavy lifting took place when I began unpacking each box and going through everything, piece by piece. It takes time and energy, and it often requires outside help. That’s what Path is all about — helping you take stock and formulate a plan that supports you as you do the heavy lifting. Is it hard work? Yes. But, let me tell you — now that the pictures are on the walls and the books are on the shelves, relaxing in my new living room with my family and feeling like I’m actually at home makes it all worth while!

Featured Artist In Action: SNL’s Sasheer Zamata

Sasheer Zamata

Photo by Cate Hellman

Over the last few years, Sasheer Zamata has been on fire! Not only has she garnered acclaim and fans for her improv, sketch, and stand-up work with UCB, CollegeHumor, and MTV, in 2014 she joined the rarified ranks of the Saturday Night Live cast.

In 2012, when she was on the brink of major success, Sasheer took the Path Course. I recently had the pleasure to ask her about that experience and what “path” her career has taken since then.

What brought you to the Path Course back in 2012?

In 2012 I was performing at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater (UCB). I was on house improv teams, writing and acting on sketch teams, hosting a variety show and doing stand up throughout the week. My manager was sending me out for commercial and TV auditions. I was auditioning a lot, but not booking a lot. I was doing well and keeping busy with all my projects, but I wanted to be more focused with my goals and activities.

What were the goals you set when you took Path?

The one-year goals I set during the Path class were to book a national commercial, have a one-person show running at UCB, finish my webseries (Pursuit of Sexiness), shop a pilot around to different networks and audition for SNL. I reached all of my goals. Some of them happened sooner than I hoped, some happened later, and some happened but didn’t turn out the way I hoped but that ended up being okay. I did finish putting together my one-person show and I auditioned it for a run at UCB. The theatre passed and I didn’t get a run, but I was glad I completed it, and later I put up a half hour of stand up at the theater, which ended up being a better way for me to get my material out anyway.

I booked a national commercial within the year and that financially helped me to work on other goals. Nicole Byer and I did complete our webseries within the year, I think we released it the following year, and we went around to different networks to shop our pilot idea. No bites from the networks, but we did get a lot of attention and positive reactions for our webseries and we’re still continuing it.

And I auditioned and got cast on SNL. In 2012 I wanted to be called in for a screen test for the show, that didn’t happen, but it happened in 2013 and I got cast in 2014.

What’s your life like today?

Most of my schedule consists of SNL during the season, and when we’re off most of my time is dedicated to writing and performing stand up, and auditioning for other projects. Life is really great right now. I feel very lucky that I get to make a living by doing what I love.

Sasheer Zamata

Photo by Luke Fontana

Have you encountered unanticipated challenges and roadblocks? How did you handle them?

I still have to deal with rejection. There’s a lot of that with the business I’m in, but not taking it personally and using that energy to focus on other things helps. If I didn’t reach a goal, or if I reached the goal but didn’t get the result I wanted, I would reassess what I wanted and try a different thing. And sometimes by working on another goal, I end up getting other goals along the way.

What was the most valuable thing you took away from your Path experience?

I didn’t think about the idea of celebrating my success until the Path class. Before I would just go go go and if I accomplished a goal it was like “Great. Got it. Now on to the next thing.” But I would rarely take a moment to acknowledge the thing I accomplished and be proud of it. That helps. I have a lot more reflective moments where I’m like “Oh yeah, I wanted to do that thing, and then I did it.” And I’m rewarding myself more, which feels necessary in order to have perspective on how much progress I’ve made.

Also being able to break down tasks into manageable bites is very valuable. I still have to remind myself to do that. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with goals like “write a movie,” but if I start with “write a logline for a movie” it’s a bit easier to start the project.

What advice do you have for those who struggle with a loud inner critic?

I don’t know if that inner critic will ever go away. It’s hard. It’s easy to think about all the things you’re not doing and the things you “should” be doing. But you can use that inner critic to analyze what’s going on with your behavior. Like instead of getting mad at yourself for not doing a thing, take a moment to think about it. Maybe you’re not doing a thing because you don’t want to do that thing. Maybe you haven’t finished your pilot because you don’t actually like it, or maybe you’re just more excited about something else at the moment.

What do you know now that you wish you knew then?

I wish I knew not to be so hard on myself. I can get really down on myself for not living up to my own expectations, but no one else has those same expectations for me. I’m my biggest critic and biggest nag, and I could’ve been a nicer to myself. I also wish I took more time to chill out. Not everything is so serious, and there are no real deadlines. It’s good to make deadlines, for sure, but also time isn’t real, so what am I even worried about?

What’s next for you?

I’m going on a stand-up tour in July, Nicole and I are planning to film another season of Pursuit of Sexiness, and I’m excited to do more work and create more.

Get to know Sasheer even more with this video Q&A from SNL’s 40th Anniversary celebration!

7 Ways Game of Thrones Resembles Your Career in the Arts

Last week, we got into a little office conversation about the long-awaited premier of season 5 of Game of Thrones. Turns out, I was the only one NOT waiting: yes, it’s true, I have yet to watch a single episode. (Alarming! I know!)

Lauren, our new Director of Operations, did her best to describe the show to me (so complicated!) and how many parallels she felt there were between the show and life as an artist. In the end, I encouraged her to create a blog post about it. It seemed to be sitting in her back pocket, ready to be shared with all the true Game of Thrones fans.

I offer you Lauren’s take on the parallels between Game of Thrones and your life as an artist. Let us know what you think. Enjoy!


1. The Underdogs Persevere 

arya stark

The most popular characters in Game of Thrones tend to be those who started with nothing, or who fell so far it seemed they’d never rise again. They’re those individuals who, in final moments of despair, seize unexpected opportunities to find their elusive success. Their achievements rarely take the form they’d initially envisioned, but success is success, nonetheless; and it’s always relative.

Despite getting kicked around, losing faith, and experiencing degrees of despair, the characters who thrive often manage to do so from the bottom of the heap, making unexpected comebacks at the last moment.

2. It’s Emotional…


…and what artist isn’t? ‘Nuff said.

 3. It’s Clever

game-of-thrones-clever1 gameofthronesclever2

Game of Thrones is one clever show! And you’re one clever artist. Just as the characters play their game, so too does any artist who seeks to conjure career from craft.

4. It’s sexy.


It might not always feel sexy to be an artist, what with the constant threat of failure and financial insecurity. But think, for a moment, about how non-artists regard creatives: as romantics with an uncanny and admirable compulsion to follow their hearts!

Sure, it’s not all sipping espresso in a Paris cafe being fabulous and inspired 100% of the time. But without artists, where would the world get its beauty?

Beauty and creation are among the sexiest things that exist, and they do exist, thanks to you.

5. Power Plays


In Game of Thrones, the characters work hard to keep whatever power they have, whether it’s a lot, and especially if it’s not.

As artists, when we land a gig that allows us to engage with our craft for money, we often hold onto it as long as we can. Even sometimes past the point of productivity or usefulness. Whether you’re Queen Regent of the Seven Kingdoms, or an artist trying to pay the rent or get to the next level, sometimes the best course of action is to say no, and allow someone else to sit upon the throne du jour.

6. Twists and Turns

shae got

What says “creative career” like a few near misses, misapprehensions, and double-backs?

In Game of Thrones, those who perish seemed just a moment before like they might make it. Some trust where they shouldn’t, and yet others doubt when they’d be better off with a bit of faith.

If these dips and turns don’t resemble the tumult of a creative career, we don’t know what does. As complicated and fascinating and full of surprises as Game of Thrones is, so too is your career. In moments of self-doubt, don’t miss the forest for the trees.

7. Tyrion Lannister

CS 68a 27th October 2010

Okay, your career might not have a literal Tyrion, but it probably has a figurative one. Played by the incomparable Peter Dinklage, Tyrion is bestowed with certain innate gifts, like wealth and a way with the ladies.

You’re bestowed with certain gifts, too, like the creative impulse, and a drive to follow the dream.

Tyrion also faces some serious disadvantage. His father, Tywin, is a very unpleasant fellow. He takes every opportunity to remind Tyrion that he’s a disappointment and a failure.

Not sure about you, but he’s a bit like our Inner Critics personified!

Tyrion advises John Snow to wear what he is “like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.” He was referring to both being a bastard, and being a dwarf, but we think it applies just as well to being an artist.

Although Tyrion’s tender heart suffers, he maintains his sense of humor, and has so far prevailed.


Tell us what Game of Thrones has taught you about your career!

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11 Ways We’ve Honored Our Path in Our 11th Year

We’re proud to share that, once again, Capes Coaching is celebrating an anniversary! This month marks eleven years serving creative professionals worldwide, helping our clients align with their truest passions, and bringing dreams to life. We couldn’t be more excited with where we are, and where we’re going.

After all this time helping you with your Paths, we thought we’d celebrate by sharing with you these eleven ways we’ve honored our own Path this year!

11 ways we honored our path this year

1. We Have Clear Goals that We Set Using Our Own Path process!

This may seem like a no brainer, but think about how many people and organizations you know who don’t have clear goals. In December, we sat down as a team and “Pathed out” our own one-year goals, with milestones and action plans along the way, just as we ask of our students and clients. We check in with them regularly to make sure we stay on track.

2. We Established our Three Guiding Principles

These are our core values. We refer to them each time we have to make an important decision to make sure we’re still aligned with our primary purpose.

  • Honest Relationships + Compassionate Communications
  • Fierce Scalability with a Growth Oriented Mindset
  • Keep it Simple

3. We Personalized Our Work Space

simplifyWe’ve made our little office into a lovely and cherished home. We even have plants.

And they’re still alive!

So far!

4. Our Team is Growing

In keeping with that second guiding principle, we’ve more than doubled our team! We’ve added new coaches, new instructors, and a new director of operations to better serve our ever-expanding client base.

5. We’ve Expanded Our Reach to Art Schools & Universities

We’re proud to share that Capes Coaching now offers curricula in three universities, in NYC and across the country. This fall, we also plan to introduce a new four-semester curriculum at a prominent NYC University! Stay tuned…

6. Growing in Volume

Focused again on that second guiding principle, we now coach and teach 4x more we did last year at this time.

7. We Took Mark Twain’s Advice & Ate a Big Ol’ Frog: Curriculum Developmentmark twain eat a frog

It’s hard work, but it was time. We’ve devoted hundreds of hours to redesigning our flagship Path Course. It’s now two weeks longer, and stronger than ever.

8. We Commit to Rituals that Support the Team

We’ve been doing tons of research on rituals and habit formation, and we’re loving the newest ritual we’ve implemented in the office! For the past few months we’ve been using a meeting structure called Traction, from EOS Worldwide, and we find that it’s getting us further, faster.

9. We Take Breaks

We teach that time off is as important as time on. As part of our company Path this year, we’ve prioritized individual self care and time off in order to show up fully for the work we do together.


Liz in beautiful Inverness, CA; Betsy and Marc in the Berkshires; the toddler daughters of Capes Coaching doing a bit of stress-diminishing baby-yoga;  the Fogler family on a weekend away; Shana reveling in her pre-baby time off; Lauren and Andrew in St. Kitts.

Liz in beautiful Inverness, CA; Betsy and Marc in the Berkshires; the toddler daughters of Capes Coaching doing a bit of stress-diminishing baby-yoga; the Fogler family on a weekend away; Shana reveling in her pre-baby time off; Lauren and Andrew in St. Kitts.

10. We Stumble. We Fall. We Get Back Up.

When we’re challenged, we continue to ask ourselves: what’s the learning? How can we do better next time?

11. We Stay Inspired

Our Path is nothing without all of you out there working yours. Whether you’re hitting the big time, still in the trenches, or anywhere in between, we’re inspired by your triumphs and struggles and your continued commitment to your passions. We’re so grateful to be on the journey with you.

Here’s to another year of goal-getting and growth for all of us!


There are still 4 spaces left in our round of Spring Path Courses, beginning in 2 weeks. Sign up to #FollowYourOwnPath today!

Where the Path May Lead: A Second Season of Acclaimed Comedy Central Hit, Broad City

In Season 1, they brought us bug bombs, adult babies, and degenerate subway broadcitygirlsbehavior. Season 2 begins today, and we can’t wait to see what wonderfully weird antics writers Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer have thought up this time.

Following Their Path to Laudable Success

The NY Times calls Comedy Central’s “Broad City,” “an absurdist, slapstick look at two women scraping by in New York.” We’re inclined to agree with that assessment, but why are we talking about it here, on the Capes Coaching blog?

We couldn’t be more delighted to share that Ilana and Abbi, who write and star in “Broad City,” are both alumni of our flagship service: The Path Course!

It Started Small, and Grew

Just about one a year ago, nearly to the day, we promoted the first season of “Broad City” here on the Capes Coaching blog, with an interview with the girls. They were preparing to launch Season 1 at the time, before it became a hit series!

Get in On The Action

If you’re curious about the Capes Coaching Course both girls took, read more about The Path on our website. We hope for the opportunity to help you find your own path.

We Can’t Wait for Season 2

We wish our two super-funny clients the very best of luck with their second season of Broad City. We plan to watch every minute! (Season 1 killed us. They’re hysterical.)

Watch the Season 2 Trailer