E1 The Unlock Moment: Samuel Haughton – Choosing Happiness
In this episode, I interview Samuel Haughton, an actor and performer, and one of the first people ever to work with me on the IDEA Mindset journey. His Unlock Moment was finding clarity on his true purpose by giving his brain the space and time to do the thinking it needed to do.
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Gary Crotaz 0:02
My name’s Dr. Gary Crotaz. And I’m a coach and author of The IDEA Mindset, a book about how to figure out what you want, and how to get it. The Unlock Moment is that flash of remarkable clarity, when you suddenly know the right path ahead. When I’m in conversation with my coaching clients, these are the breakthroughs that are so profound, that they remember vividly, where they were, who they were with, what they were thinking, when their Unlock Moment happened. In this podcast, I’ll be meeting and learning about people who have accomplished great things, or brought about significant change in their life, and you will be meeting them with me. We’ll be finding out what inspired them, how they got through the hard times, and what they learned along the way that they can share with you. Thank you for joining me on this podcast to hear all about another Unlock Moment. Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the Unlock Moment podcast. Today I’m delighted to have a dear friend joining me Samuel Haughton. A hugely talented actor and performer, he was one of the first people ever to work with me on the IDEA Mindset journey. And since then, his career has really gone from strength to strength. As a result, he’s dialling in today from Aberdeen in northeast Scotland, where he’s on tour with a big show. I’ve invited Samuel on the podcast today to hear about how he navigated a fork in the road in his career journey. I want to learn more about what it felt like, how he found his sense of direction and what happened next. Samuel has been working in the entertainment industry for nearly 10 years since graduating from the Guildford School of Acting, his acting career has taken him around the world, spanning almost every entertainment medium. In more recent years, his experience has expanded into talent management, allowing him to know the industry from many different angles. Currently, Samuel is enjoying rocking around the UK and Ireland in the first touring production of School of Rock. Sam, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for joining me.
Samuel Haughton 2:01
Thank you for having me. How exciting.
Gary Crotaz 2:04
Where were you in your in your career when we first started talking about this career journey you started getting involved in in IDEA. Tell me about where you were in your career journey. At that point,
Samuel Haughton 2:15
I took far longer than it was ever intended to get through the entire IDEA Mindset programme with Gary for various reasons. But we got there, I had just finished Panto, I believe. And I, it was just before I found out I was going to Korea with the Korean tour of School of Rock – we’ll get onto that later. And it’s interesting you kind of spoke about about forks in the road in the introduction and I kind of what what came to mind is that I wasn’t making any set decisions, I was kind of allowing life to happen to me feeling like I had no control over the direction in which I was going and kind of just quite blindly following whichever fork in the road I felt like at that point, instead of looking at directions and being very clear on why I was taking a certain route and seeing where that would lead me. Yeah, desperate, desperate to find some sense of direction. And desperate to kind of feel like I was taking some kind of ownership over my life and and where it was heading.
Gary Crotaz 3:28
And what were some of the kinds of things that you were doing at that time. So you had you had the acting going on? I think you were doing talent management at that time. What other things were you doing at that time?
Samuel Haughton 3:38
I was doing some temping, I believe it was there’s always there’s always a January dip where normally you finish as an actor, you finish your Christmas contract, it’s normally a panto. And you know, the industry is still waking up from a Prosecco-induced coma. So there’s a lot, you know, there’s a lot of time before things get going again, and I was also starting to pursue TV presenting. I was getting my showreel for that done. I was just kind of dipping into my bit jobs. I was doing a bit of piano teaching. I was just, it was all kind of quite scattered and quite unfocused. But it was it was kind of falling into that, Oh, got to do what I need to get by kind of situation. And that’s, that’s, that’s where we were at. Yeah.
Gary Crotaz 4:29
What does? What does the life of an actor look like in terms of sort of future uncertainty? So I assume it’s quite difficult to predict what’s going to happen over the coming months over the coming years. What does that feel like?
Samuel Haughton 4:42
It’s not my favourite part of my job. What I’ve learned, and actually, I’ll steal this from my personal trainer, Mr. Joshua Dacosta. He talks about if you think of a chair, the more legs around the chair, the more stable the cherries. And the more legs you have to spare for want of, for want of a better phrase, you know, so like one of one of the legs can go, and the chair will still stand. And so what I’ve learned with acting is that the more kind of other things I have on the go at the same point, the less I feel like I’m about to topple when an acting job finishes, as it inevitably does. And so, definitely skip back a couple of years, I was very uncertain, I had maybe one, maybe two legs on my chair. And the second an acting job was finished, it was kind of back to the foundations, back to ground level trying to figure out okay, what do I build now? How do I how do I build my life with this huge gap, because this is the other thing, when you’re on an acting project, it takes up your entire life. So when it goes, you almost need to mourn it a little bit, it’s gone. It was great. And then you need to figure out what you’re doing next. But now I’m in a position where I feel a lot more confident that when, for example, the tour I’m on currently finishes, I kind of have a loose idea of what’s going to come next, not necessarily in terms of acting projects, and always the way I will line up my life, I will line up work, and then an acting project will come in from left field. But what’s great is, you know, the, the the other the other projects I have on the go, the other things I have going are very flexible. They are workable around my life as an actor. And I’m very grateful for them.
Gary Crotaz 6:38
It’s so interesting hearing the way that you describe those things. So, so in in a time of uncertainty and the nature of of what you do has inherent uncertainty in it. There was a time where your response to that uncertainty to find stability, was to put more legs on the chair, which at the time was manifesting if I understand as a lot of different things, you know, temping, piano teaching, acting, different things. And so if we come to, to this Unlock Moment, leading into that time, if you were to be able to articulate really the choice ahead of you the path to the left, the path to the right, how would you describe those, those those options that you had and you were working through to choose between?
Samuel Haughton 7:24
In the work that we did together, the Unlock Moment came, probably at least halfway if not to the latter part of our time. And it changed everything from that point onwards. Up until that point, we’d looked at what I was craving, which was a bit more certainty, which was feeling like I knew the direction I was going in. And I think there were two things there was there was the fork in the road of do I carry on pursuing my acting career? Or do I focus more on my talent management, which is a little more of a solid lifestyle, there’s always going to be talent, they’re always going to need managing. And do I look to expand that? And then when we looked at acting by itself, it was why am I doing it? Am I doing it because it makes me happy? Or am I doing it because I want to be the best at it? And for me, I think that that was the bigger Unlock Moment for me. Because I then applied that principle to my entire life about why why do I do what I do? Whatever I’m doing that day, am I doing this because it makes me happy? Or am I doing it because I feel like I should? This is what we landed on, we landed on that I was I was articulating the goal of wanting to be the best at something, because that is what society tells you should always be striving for. And sometimes that comes at the cost of happiness. Whereas actually what I was striving for was a lifestyle that would make me happy and would be sustainable, and would continue to make me happy in future years.
Gary Crotaz 9:12
It’s really interesting. So so that the question was, why do you do what you do? That that that that was what that was what you’re working through? Why? Why is it you act? And, and this will sound like an obvious question, but tell me more about why that was an important thing for you to resolve.
Samuel Haughton 9:31
I think for me when I understood the why, it put into sharper focus where I was heading, not that I can necessarily answer that for you. But I have a stronger idea of what that looks like. And it also became the fuel that would get me to that destination. So it affected my journey from every single angle. And like I say, I don’t just apply that principle to acting, I apply that to life. Is this situation I’m in, making me happy? If not, what needs to change? Do I need to change, does the situation need to change? Is it a case of I just need to sit in this for a bit, and then the end result will be happy? You know, it’s, it’s really, it’s expanded my view of situations and enabled me to feel like I’m in control of them.
Gary Crotaz 10:28
We’ll come in a second to that actual moment of realisation. But tell, tell me a little bit more about what what did it feel like to be you in leading up to that time when, you know, we’ve been working together for some time, and you’ve been working through a process of change, but as you articulate, you hadn’t quite landed on this point yet. What emotions were you experiencing at that time? What did it feel like to be you at that time before you made that breakthrough moment?
Samuel Haughton 10:59
In the long term before, I was just quite, I was just quite lackadaisical about life, I just kind of, it used to be this thing that would just happen to me instead of me living life. And just sometimes I’ve been that could be quite anxiety inducing when I felt like I had absolutely no idea of what I was doing or any control over what I was doing. Particularly when you then see your peers achieving things and you think, why am I not doing that? Should I be doing that? That was always quite triggering for me. In the immediate before my Unlock Moment, we’d been working together for a few months. And I was absolutely livid with you. I was going, Why do I have to make this decision? I think I can do both whaa da da daa, like I was I was I was, that was a tough wrestling match. To kind of wrestle through that question and get to an answer. And we still, I think, I think if memory serves, we landed on this question. And then I went away, and I kind of sat with it, we then proceeded to have at least two or three sessions, where we’d come back each time, and I hadn’t got any further with it. And we’d kind of hash it out for an hour. And, again, this is whilst I was in Korea. And because of time differences, I remember I would come back from a show and we’d be doing it at something like 11pm my time, I’d be tired. And I was like, but actually, you know, hindsight, being a lovely thing, that that was just a manifestation of years and years of uncertainty and anxiety, kind of building up and all of a sudden, I was confronted with this decision that I knew I had to make, because you weren’t going to let me not.
Gary Crotaz 12:47
And who are you wrestling with?
Samuel Haughton 12:48
Myself, ah, just myself, no, myself. And if I say society, that makes me sound like, I think I’m a revolutionary. But I think I think it’s important to acknowledge your journey through life, and expectations that have been placed on you, from those around you, as you’ve journeyed through, if that makes sense.
Gary Crotaz 13:13
After all of that struggle, through, you know, over time, through sessions, we had together through the thinking that you were doing, what was the moment where you found that breakthrough point of clarity.
Samuel Haughton 13:25
What triggered the Unlock Moment, the only thing I can put it down to is that I had sat with it long enough. And I woke up. I think it was it was very early. I can’t remember what time you received the WhatsApp message, but I was
Gary Crotaz 13:45
I’m thinking it was about four o’clock in the morning. For me.
Samuel Haughton 13:48
That sounds about right. Yeah, I think I was. So whatever that time difference is. But I remember it was early. I remember like I was I woke up, I sent you that message from my bed and was like, I think this is it. What do you think? I think you just messaged back something like, ‘Yes’. And that was it. And we you know, and we we spoke as you know, I think I think I think my I think my answer was a bit longer. I think it was the understanding that because you because I was choosing to focus on my happiness didn’t mean I would never be the best in the world at what I did. But it was choosing where I was going to put my efforts and what would ultimately define the choices I will make in the future. And that’s where I am and that’s, that’s that’s where I’ve been led to. And that’s how I’m living.
Gary Crotaz 14:37
And it’s funny when I remember texting you back and saying yes, which is never something I would normally do. I never say my opinion is is that the right answer for you. Because it’s not for me to know. But I think I remember saying to you afterwards, the yes was more. The fact that I received this text at four o’clock in the morning means it’s probably quite important to you and therefore, to give you some reassurance, this probably indicates that you’re coming to quite a profound realisation at this point in time. So it was, it was really a moment, I remember to this day, the moment of receiving that text message, because we had been working through it for a long period of time going to and fro as you describe. And I think that it’s one of the really formative experiences in my own coaching experience that takes me to this idea of this Unlock Moment, the idea that there is a point in time in this, you know, undulating journey that that people go through to figure things out, where suddenly there’s a blinding flash of this is it, this is it. So, so that where you came to was, it’s about happiness. And that sounds simple. Sounds simple, but but it really isn’t. So, what changed for you, once you came to that realisation, that that’s why you did what you did?
Samuel Haughton 15:08
It just took pressures off. And I think this is true of any job, you, you know, we have, we have goals, we have aims, and I used to put ages on them. Now, now, the goals are still there, there’s still there’s still direction that I would like to move in. Because I think that will make me happy. But I’m so much more open to experiences that come along along the way, that made me happy in a different way, or might make me even happier than this other thing that I thought would make me happy. I feel quite liberated, I feel liberated from my own expectations on myself. And just feel like I can run headfirst into situations and, and just be open to everything it’s going to give me. It’s quite it’s, it’s a far more exciting way for me to live. That’s not to say I’m reckless. That’s not to say I go completely rogue, there’s like I say, there’s still a direction that I want to move in. But I feel like I have expanded my horizons. And there’s so much more out there for me to experience and that excites me. And that makes me happy.
Gary Crotaz 17:22
Does it? Does it change your perception of of worry or regret? If you think that how how, how it felt to be you before and how it felt to be you after?
Samuel Haughton 17:35
Yeah, definitely. I’m going to separate those two – worry, in terms of worry, it’s, I can I can only, I can only make the choices with what’s on the table for me, I can’t I can’t worry about what’s on other people’s tables. I’m not sitting at that table – like I am sitting at my table. What is on the table for me? We have choices. Okay, what’s going to make me happy? Great. And then I don’t know what the other thing what, you know, I made that decision based on what I had in that moment. And I think actually regret goes hand in hand with that. I can’t I can’t regret the choice I didn’t make because that moment it’s that cliche of you know, don’t have any regrets. Because at one point when you made that decision, what you chose was exactly what you wanted. And that’s Yeah, that’s very liberating.
Gary Crotaz 18:25
Very powerful statement, isn’t it to say what I did, rightly or wrongly was was for the reason I’m clear on the reasons why I made that decision. How do you think other people perceive the changing you from before to after?
Samuel Haughton 18:42
Oh, I’ve never asked. I think … dear listener, I work very closely with Gary’s wife. In terms of the talent management work that I do. And Mildred was the one I don’t think I’m misquoting her in saying this, I’m pretty sure it has happened, or it was a dream. And that’s really weird. But she, I think it was a few months after, we’d finished working together. And we were chatting as we do. And she said something along the lines of You just seem a lot more settled. And I was like I really am. And I’m happier. And I know a bit more about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it and therefore how much of myself I’m willing to give to this, you know, it influenced the way I approach a lot of things and actually, it led to particularly over lockdown me and Mildred doing a lot of work on how we worked and are we both getting what we need from this and you know what, what needs to change and so it kind of it has facilitated me to approach relationships and situations and you know, all areas of my life from a different angle and and kind of renegotiate the boundaries of those a little bit in a way that works better for me. So in that instance, I don’t I don’t know if people have necessarily seen like a complete – Sam’s a completely different person – because that was never the aim, that was never the intention, what I hope they see is is, you know, for want of a better phrase, Sam 2.0, like an improved Sam, a happier Sam, a Sam who is actually able to work better in every situation, because he’s functioning it in a healthier way.
Gary Crotaz 20:31
I really like Sam 2.0, I think that that’s amazing. And then bring bring that to life for for us, practically. So, so what what’s changed practically in your life since since then, if you compare where you were, and you know, physically, mentally, spiritually, work-wise, what, how’s that actually manifested in, in tangible change in your life, do you think?
Samuel Haughton 20:57
So there’s a couple of things to go on there. I think a big one would be I started working with my personal trainer, I think just a bit before we started working together. But I’ve really, again, run kind of headfirst as much as I can into that. It’s cyclical, depending on you know, when we were in rehearsals, I didn’t really have a lot of spare time. I love working with my trainer, in particular, because he gets it. And again, we are very clear on my goal. And my goal is to be happy sometimes being happy will be me allowing myself to go out and eat a lot and drink a lot with my friends. Other times it will be okay, let’s get me really physically healthy. So I know I can do this job. So I know I can run this marathon because I’m an idiot, and I’ve signed up to one, you know all those things. And, and so we’re very much aligned with those goals. So physically, I feel great. And I think that’s had a great impact on my mental health as well. I take a lot more time to make sure mentally I’m getting what I need. And on tour, that’s really hard. But I always try and make room for that. At the time of recording, I’m in a lovely relationship. We’ve been together for a year, that was very much not the intention, when I finished working with you. I was I think I was actively like, I want to put all my energies into making me happy. I don’t want to negotiate that with anyone else. And then I met the lovely man in my life and was like, you make me happy. And actually, I don’t feel like I am giving of myself – I think I think if anything I’m gaining, and I think, I very much hope he feels the same way. Otherwise, it’s a very one sided relationship! But yeah, it’s very much changed every aspect of my life, not just my job.
Gary Crotaz 22:57
And that’s something that’s very striking for me that, that, you know, we never worked on or intended to work on the practical changes in your life in that way. But, you know, when we were first working together, you were doing couch to 5k, you know, and now you signed up like an idiot for a marathon. You know, it’s it’s striking changes that have happened to you, you hadn’t been in the cast of a UK tour of a big West End musical before and now you are, now what’s interesting for me reflecting is that when before you hadn’t got to your Unlock Moment, and you were talking about your aspirations around achievement and success. There’s many of the things that you’re experiencing now that absolutely fit there. But what’s something that I noticed is that the freedom in your thinking that came from figuring out why you’re doing what you were doing, and what it was really about actually have has supported or unlocked the ability to do many of those things that previously you were trying to get to by by pushing and trying and striving. And now you know, my observation of you is that is that you’ve relaxed into things that of course brings out your best and unsurprisingly other people notice. So and it’s interesting because what often people think that the choice between two different paths or two different philosophies, is to let something go. But actually, in your case, I’m not sure you have let anything go that you wanted. So what have you learned about yourself from going through this journey from going through this journey, for having these experiences?
Samuel Haughton 24:47
I’ve learned I’m even more stubborn than I ever realised. But but actually in that to again to kind of run into it and to you know, we kind of we said we said early on in our work together, this isn’t about changing anything about you, if it’s about, it’s just about, it’s even improving, I don’t know I think is just unlock, like unlocking other ways of thinking, if you then choose to make changes based on that, then that’s completely your decision. And I have and I will continue to and that’s great. But so I don’t, you know, I don’t think my stubbornness was was ever anything that needed to change it was just something it’s actually kind of served me very well in this situation, because it led me it led me to a terrific realisation. I think I’ve also learnt to, to embrace it, you know, this is along the same thing to embrace everything about myself, my resilience, my, the way I look, what I can do, what I enjoy doing. And I’ve really enjoyed kind of, through that falling in love with myself, that sounds that sounds really narcissistic, and I don’t mean it in that way. But really, really enjoying investing in myself and seeing the good that comes from that. And the good that I’m then able to put out, like, on a very basic level, if I’m, if I’m giving myself the time to go for a run every day, then I’m able to sign up for this marathon, which I’m running for Make A Wish Foundation, and that’s really cool. So I think it’s taught me to just enjoy myself and enjoy this life, because we only get one. So you might as well live it to the fullest.
Gary Crotaz 26:30
So if you were talking to somebody else who was in the place that you were in, not necessarily in, in the acting world, but in the sense of that stool, you know, with the with the instability, and they’re trying to do lots of different things. And they’re not quite clear on their why and they’re not quite clear on, on, on their focus and their priorities. And they’re feeling a sense of almost like, in my words being like a pinball in a pinball machine being done to as opposed to, to being on the front foot and driving the agenda. What advice would you give to them, given your experience, now?
Samuel Haughton 27:11
Sp find a Gary, no, although do, take a breath, take a big breath, and take a step back. Whether that’s in a formal setting, like you find a terrific business coach like Gary, you know, whether it’s in a formal setting like that, or whether, whether you just need to create space for yourself. And be really honest with yourself, it is the hardest thing. And like I say, sometimes you have to sit with questions for a very long time, before you’ll get to an answer.
Gary Crotaz 27:50
And how did that feel? Tell me, tell me about that. Tell me about that, that sense of needing to wait until you were there.
Samuel Haughton 27:59
Oh, infuriating. Like I was so annoyed, I think, again, talking about society’s expectation to be so everything is instant to us. And we’re conditioned to believe that things should come very quickly to you. And if they don’t, then they’re not worth it. Absolute rubbish, the most valuable things that come to you will take time. So sit in the uneasiness, sit in sit in the frustrations, sit in the anxiety, because what you get at the end of it will be better for you.
Gary Crotaz 28:34
And of course most people don’t don’t have the luxury of access to a coach you know and it can be an expensive thing to do as well. So, so for somebody who doesn’t have that access, what did you learn about, you know, you talked about talking to people around you, you know, what do you learn from what you could do yourself to get you to that place? And what advice might you give somebody that doesn’t necessarily have access to to people that can help them in such a focused way through that journey.
Samuel Haughton 29:06
I’d say look at the situations you’re in that aren’t what you want them to be – now for me that’s that aren’t making me happy, for other people be that they aren’t bringing them success or they aren’t making enough money or they’re having a negative impact on them or anything like that. Look at those situations that aren’t working for you, for whatever reason. Try and identify what it is about those situations. But also remember my knee jerk was to just be like, Fine, I’m going to give up this I’m going to give up that and you’re like, Whoa, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. Look at this from every angle. I think at one point I was talking about stepping away from talent management and being extremely candid it’s responsible for a third of my income. That would be ridiculous. So okay, how do we navigate this to work better for you? And sometimes the changes will be in you. Sometimes the changes will need to be articulated to someone else. And they may not be able to make those changes for you. And in that case, you need to, you know, that takes a whole other load of evaluation. But just take that first step, and try and identify what’s not working. Why is it not working? How do we make this better? And as we said, sometimes the best thing to do is to bring it down to a simple level, don’t overcomplicate it, just start and kind of bit by bit, it should just start to fall into place.
Gary Crotaz 30:30
I really like that. And I think that hopefully listeners can hear through this conversation, that some of the questions that you find most insightful are very simple questions with a lot of silence actually, you know, being prepared to say, you know, so what is important for you? And then shut up. Like, it’s that you can ask yourself that question. And you kind of have to live with the fact that that can be uncomfortable. Sometimes, you have to say, so what is important? And if you can’t answer that question, just reflect on why you can’t answer that question. And then think over time, you know, how you can get to an answer. I mean, I, I think, I mean, it was, there was there was about a six month window, I think, in your journey, where there, there was a particular set of questions that you were living with. And so I often talk to other people that I work with and say, you know, when they are, as you’re describing, you know, two or three or four weeks into a particular dilemma, and I’m like, you’re, you’re still at least you’re still early days, because it may, it could be it could be a long time. But the the impact on you of giving it that time has been so significant. So it’s I think that’s a really, that’s a really powerful takeaway. So So what’s next for you? Tell us about what’s coming next.
Samuel Haughton 31:58
So I’m currently on the UK and Ireland Tour School of Rock. We are touring until August, thank goodness, even through COVID, and all kinds of things going on. I feel very, very fortunate that we’re continuing. And it looks like we’re going to we’re going to get there, it didn’t always look like we were going to get there. But it certainly looks that way. Now, that’s very exciting. That’s me until August. I am making the choice to take a little bit of time. Because there’s a couple of other things going on. We’ve got some very exciting family stuff going on. I am running the marathon in which has now been pushed back to October. So it’ll be needing to do some fundraising for that. And a little bit of travel, maybe on the cards. And then it will be okay, what are we doing next. But alongside that talent management will still be going on, I will still be doing some teaching. The great thing about touring is I’ve been able to teach some places that I don’t normally get to being London based. So that’s been really exciting. And I’m looking forward to doing more of that. And then we will run headfirst into the next adventure.
Gary Crotaz 33:12
Fantastic. And so where can people find out more about you?
Samuel Haughton 33:16
So I’m on Instagram. My Instagram handle is @samuel.haughton.42 . I’m on Twitter at @samuelhaughton . And I also have a website, which is http://www.samuelhaughton.com
Gary Crotaz 33:31
Fantastic. Sam, thank you so much for being on the podcast and sharing your story. It’s been it’s been a delight. And I knew you were going to be an amazing, and you’re going to be an amazing guest. The Unlock Moment is that flash of remarkable clarity when you suddenly know the right path ahead. What Sam brings to life is how you need to give your brain the space and time to do the thinking it needs to do. And then when you’re clear on the path ahead. You need to back yourself and go all in. We live life to deadlines, chores, tasks, outputs, problems to be solved. But when you’re figuring out what you want from work and life, you can’t think to a deadline. Taking the time to figure things out and find the path that’s right for you is the foundation for a fulfilling life ahead. Sam, thank you so much for joining me on The Unlock Moment and best of luck with the tour. Thank you.
Samuel Haughton 34:24
Gary Crotaz 34:26
This has been The Unlock Moment, a podcast with me Dr. Gary Crotaz. Thank you for listening. You can find out more about how to figure out what you want and how to get it in my book, The IDEA Mindset available in physical book, ebook and audiobook format. Follow me on Instagram and subscribe to this podcast to get notified about future episodes. Join me again soon!