Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper

Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper

A few weeks ago I watched a roundtable of women actresses, sponsored by Variety Magazine. One of the questions asked was, “What is the best advice you’ve ever received in Hollywood?” Laura Dern’s answer was the one I loved:

“Keep your eyes on your own paper.”

And while I imagine this is superlative advice in the film industry, I’m 100% certain it’s something the rest of us can apply to our own lives.

I know I can.

What might this look like? Well, to begin, there’s the obvious commentary about the value of not using social media to cyber-stalk the people you long to see fail/suffer/vanish. To instead use it to, you know, actually be social: to sincerely congratulate others’ on their good fortune, to alert others’ to events they might like to attend, to share news that makes you happy.

We could all probably do a little bit more of this in real-time, too.

More interesting to me, however, is the conversation I have to have with myself when I think my clients (not to mention my friends and family) aren’t living up to what I consider their potential.


Does this ever happen to you?

In these cases, my internal dialogue sounds a lot like, “Oh for heaven’s sake, why doesn’t X just do Y—it’s obvious! Their procrastination is k.i.l.l.i.n.g. me.”

And then I long to lie down and put a cold washcloth on my head.

The trouble with this, however, is that it usually means I’m not working to my potential. After all, isn’t it always easier to mind other peoples’ business?

So these days, I’m busily taking Ms. Dern’s excellent advice: when I find myself scrabbling around in what I think other people should be saying/doing/thinking/feeling, I return my eyes to my own paper. I ask myself, “What is it that I need to be doing?”

Frances Cole Jones