,One of the things I have always loved is a good street performance. When a source of incredible musical talent positions themselves street-side somewhere, it's like there is some trigger in my DNA that literally compels me to stop and engage. And lose myself for a few moments in someone's genius, in the moment where they choose to share it.
There is a fine art to being able to perform well on any stage, but there is a particular art in itself, to being able to stay resilient in standing on a public stage you just created of your own accord, that nobody walking past was necessarily expecting, or had consciously invited, or been invited to be a part of...until the second they walked up the street and realised they were about to become a part of it.
1. Mental mastery and mastery of their state- turning the Kung Fu of reaction into a synchronous dance of response
Firstly, no matter how old you are, there is nothing like standing out in public and choosing to make yourself the centre of attention in a public space, to trigger all your unresolved stuff about being seen and judged. About feeling wanted, about feeling likeable and worthy of love, about being enough, about being respected, about being heard and acknowledged, about being able to stand in your power (in a non confrontational way) and hold your boundaries, about wether what you’ve got to say or play is something people appreciate and hence deemed “of value” and “worth saying.” And especially, especially about being loved or rejected by the tribe.
On some level, we all carry the remnants of some very primal wounding around that we need to deal with at some point. But in a world where, presently, massive change is wanted and people are tending to go about it in one of 3 main ways; either by BEING the love and the change they wish to see, OR, feeling sufficiently triggered enough with the perceived injustice within a situation and how it was handled, they rebel against the establishment and try and smash what doesn't work for them or the collective wellbeing apart, or they simply stick their head in the virtual, digital sand, the consequences of speaking against or with the tribe, is as relevant as ever.
In other words, choosing to fly well and truly ON the radar, and open oneself up to judgement in either direction, positive or critical, can massively trigger your unresolved stuff. And will bring into sudden sharp awareness, where all your defensive (self protective) patterning lies, in the process of revealing who we really are and what we’re really all about.
When our ultimate goal (of speaking, or performing) is usually to connect meaningfully, to be inviting to those willing to watch and be positively impactful by way of the sharing of our magic, all the triggered stuff in our head, unfortunately can, at times, have the exact OPPOSITE effect on your audience. They may not be able to outwardly SEE a reason why to explain it. But, unless you deal with it, they may well feel the effects of the vibe you’re sending out. For example, they may well feel a reaction to all your defences. So that your talent draws them in, but the non verbal “don’t you f@#$ with me” or your “@#$k you for not putting money in their hat!" vibes then have a repelling nature, and become a determining factor in whether they stay and become a fan, start posting lovely things about you on social and maybe buy your CD. Or whether they feel the urge to walk away, with their friend going ‘far out, did you see/feel the attitude on that guy?”
The more 'negs' going on in your head, the more you might inadvertently push them away and block the possibility of them wanting to meaningfully interact with you. The more you're looking for and expecting the best of people, the more able they are to show up as that.
Great performers seemingly make it look almost effortless. But, in reality, it’s not. They have a high degree of mental mastery and mastery of their state, to be able to stay present and grounded, to ensure they stay in the zone of performance plus responsiveness, and above the zone of reaction. And those who are highly interactive in engaging or facilitating engagement with the audience, have cultivated a high level of self awareness, to be able to ‘dance’ with the audience in a way that looks less like an energetic psychological kung fu battle for power, recognition and influence, and more like a synchronous exchange, in which the performer/presenter both leads and lives the flow of moves and their musical magic.
Two more things that set great performers apart, that have their own applications for Speakers/Presenters/Leaders:
2. Guru/Celebrity/Person of Influence or no, good manners still go a long way.
Regardless of whether they’ve made themselves available on a stage, or as Ellen eloquently pointed out in her “Relatable” stand up comedy comeback piece, RE being out in public and being unexpectedly recognised, when you’re in your car, you’re Ellen and somebody cuts you off and you want to go nuts at them, but you realise you’re now known globally for being the “be kind to each other” lady and have THAT to live up to; when people approach the celeb, within reason of the confines of the circumstance, they do their best to acknowledge and engage with their audience member, in a culturally recognised, well-mannered way.
For the street performer on a Sydney street, if someone approaches you to put money in your case, pick up a card or buy a CD, that makes it really easy. Basic social protocol dictates that, if they’re giving you something, thanks and nice big smiles of love, warmth and gratitude are in order.
3. Looking for the “moments” you can share.
Another thing that makes a brilliant performer, is their ability to stay present to the people around them in the space, and find little ways to include them, WHILE doing the juggling act of their magic. That is sure not easy when you’re trying to play a complex musical piece, sing and be sociable all at the same time. It takes practice to rise above both “concentration face” or the grey, emotionless, blank-faced, fight-flight coping reaction we can have to a perceived external threat (whether real in the present, or a learned defence to the memory of an incident of long ago. )
But, with repetition and practice, good performers get good at looking for the moments they can share with you. Like the moment a couple is moved by your piece. Or someone laughs with you at a tricky bit. Or at a moment the other kind of genius (and there’s always a few of them,) walks straight through the middle of your impromptu stage.... and you connect with the audience members who were offended on your behalf, over wondering if whoever it was that just gate-crashed your stage, is really for real right now.
What relevance does this have to all of you? Seemingly gone are the days of being able to negotiate a contract in which you could dictate exactly how and when you gave your permission to be filmed, or when you could have a stunt butt come in for a close up of your left butt cheek before you, say, step onto a known global filming space, like Bondi Beach, scantily dressed. These days, everyone with a phone is a roving reporter with a camera and all the world is a stage. And social media is the online stage equivalent, where, every time you put your content or opinion on social, it’s not that far removed from the experience of the street performer, in how it suddenly shows up (expected or unwanted) in their feed. A bunch of people will be pleasantly delighted to see it suddenly appear unexpectedly in their feed. While some will want to hit the “hide” or “unfollow” buttons. So the lessons of personal resilience and how to invite and engage a positive experience, are not dissimilar, if on a different medium of communication.
If you’re interested in discussing more strategies that will help you better thrive while being seen and heard on stage, plus more meaningfully engage and relate with your live and online audiences, feel free to reach out to me for a chat here.
Until next time, have fun, take care
What kind of Leader do you Aspire to be in 2019?
Well here we are in 2019. Happy New Year to you! I hope you've had a lovely start to the year so far. Regardless of wherever you’re starting from as we start this year, and what's on your work and life manifestation list, what i'm curious to know is, have you given some thought yet to what kind of Leader you aspire to be in 2019?
A Mindset Coach friend recently asked me that very thing and followed it up with an equally pertinent metaphorical question, true to the frank, but love and humour filled manner in which we often talk about such things. As a Leader, do you want to be a Supernova, or a Black hole?
Interesting question. Here's what essentially came out of me in response....
First of all, in case you're not a Sci Fi nerd like me, so that you don't have to click out to Dr Google, firstly, what are Supernovas and Black Holes?
A Supernova Is basically a Big Bang explosion out from what was a star, it brightly explodes (gives) matter out into the universe. Despite it's temporary life in the interstellar landscape, the chemical components and the waves of energy it sends out, contribute to the growth of new stars, new life for eons to come and more than that, it’s bright light continues to illuminate the universal landscape long after the supernova itself has done its magic and left the room.
Conversely, its counterpart (for they tend to come in pairs) a supermassive black hole, is the dense region of space that forms when a star collapses in on itself, and develops a core, with a gravitational field that pulls anything that enters its immediate vicinity towards it and is strong enough that, whatever enters past the blackhole's event horizon (outer edge), is thought to be unable to escape once inside it. In other words, it becomes the dominant force operating in the vicinity.
If we were to apply them in a Leadership context, as a metaphor, you might say that one is about us shining brightly in sharing your gifts in service and what we can create from that place; the other is about what it intends to get and is constantly absorbing from the universe to increase it’s own mass. Just to also clarify, i'm not saying either is "bad", in fact, we actually NEED both. Both give and take are necessary to be in the flow of creating and manifesting anything. Just as a strong internal motivation is key to achieving any goal. And there is nothing wrong with having a huge goal and huge ambition. That drive to achieve and experience is a gift that helps us follow through on getting long term, little and big goals DONE. What differentiates the outcome of what we create though, is the intention with which we create it. To serve self, to be of service, or both (e.g. to intend to manifest what's in the highest good of ALL, or to slip into the gargantuan pull of our own ego's than can, at times, go hand in hand with the business, leadership, fame and fortune piece.)
Bring both into balance and you're on a good thing. But, to end up stuck in either super extreme though, can be problematic.
For the Supernova: As many women who've spent much of their lives walking around operating on what John Gray once termed in the 90's, the LOSE WIN principle will tell you (e.g. that's the notion that, how well i love my tribe and my "success" as a nurturer is defined by how much i have self sacrificed in service, in order to show that i love you and the cause, which means i am willing to deny my own needs to say YES to yours. When actually, another part of me is actually screaming to say "no" and to acknowledge my own needs and limits... But "love" means losing out, so that you, or all can win.) We can't though, in practice sustain just being a supernova and giving with no regard to our wellbeing all the time, or you eventually burn yourself out, having given all your pieces away in service or creation. Or, dare i say it, also maybe overdelivering on love and service, trying to be enough.
For the Supermassive Blackhole: Nor can one indefinitely sustain the Supermassive Blackhole extreme of only ever being about one's own desire and what one will get out of the business, fame, fortune and followship piece, often, without realising it, potentially at the expense of others along the way, before one realises the blackhole path alone, too can be unsustainable.
Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addiction and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Nottingham Trent University UK, and others, talk about this in his Psychology Today Article, "Why We Seek the High of Stardom."
It can be unsustainable on two fronts. Firstly, in order for them to grow and thrive, relationships of all kinds, plus one's contribution to a community dynamic, needs to be two way and mutually beneficial. Second, as they poignantly pointed out in "The Greatest Showman" while a million dreams are a powerful motivator for us and others to get us moving, the shadow side of ambition becomes when achievement or acknowledgement starts to come at too higher price to our mental wellbeing, as well as the relationships with those we care about most. Desire in and of itself, as many Men, many addicts and now recovering fame addicts will tell you, pursued for its own sake, can prove to be a bottomless pit that no amount of fulfilling it will ever fully satisfy. Because it's temporary and fleeting, chasing it can be addictive. The endless desire for more; whether more likes, more success, more achievement and accolades, more power, more perfection, or more pleasure, MINUS attachment to the supernova's soulful desire to be of service to a vision, to be present to our own need to cultivate self love and wholeness, plus to be present with and deeply appreciative of those we love and are already right in front of us, can be a vacuous, empty black hole within that can never be filled, for as long as we're trying to fill that place within, where our soul and self love should be, with all of that external gratification.
And if one was already struggling a little with self worth, it's easy to lose yourself filling up with all this praise and striving for more accolades for achievements one thinks they want, trying to be bigger than one already is....when, what if we're already enough? And rather than pulling more into ourself to feel enough, like the black hole, we instead need to receive the energy of ourselves, and then expand out, in shining in our presence, and in service, like the supernova, from there?
The process of slipping into that external dependence, on praise, acknowledgement of achievements and validation, plus the quite literal physical, neurochemical addiction to the constant stream of external praise induced constant dopamine hits that accompany it (hence the reference to literally addiction), is often so subtle/so gradual, or conversely, so incredibly rapid, you don’t even realise it’s happening. Until the 20 000 - 200 million followers are no longer there, and you're, once again, face to face with every day life again, having to define your own self worth and the value you bring to the world, for yourself again. Having to find new ways of creating healthy, natural, physical highs and balanced wellbeing in mind, body, body and spirit. And to fill ourselves up with our own love, acceptance and acknowledgement. Minus anywhere near as many people having an active interest in you, while, as Oprah once put it, the ones who genuinely love you for you, stay and ride the bus with you, while the ones who just wanted to use you for the limo privileges (and what they could get out of you), ultimately, completely disappear.
For the ones that were and are ever present, we must never neglect to STAY present to the gifts and the beauty in the people that are constantly around us, moment to moment, right now. It's just as easy to unintentionally, become incredibly unappreciative of them, in the human centerpede culture of the pursuit of entrepreneurial success, that constantly has everyone trying to reach up for the next big influencer, in order to have finally made it and be "enough." But then, suddenly, to those who love us the most, and can view and experience us from an external vantage point (and fell us pulling away), we might start to look less Supernova and feel a whole lot more Supermassive Black holes to be around. Make sense? Painful to hear, if you're presently caught in it, I know, (don't worry, i fell for it too, which is exactly WHY i can live to talk about it now, and is part of HOW my friend and i got onto this chat about the whole concept in the first place.
As it relates to all of us as Leaders, understanding this and creating our own strategies to stay grounded, balanced and aligned in the most heart centred, soulful version of us and present to our soulful purpose and intention, is an essential piece of the Leadership Development process and our maturation as individual Leaders. i think it's more NECESSARY now than ever, to confront this ever-increasing present phenomenon in the world, if we're to truly reach our full potential as Leaders too. And support others to do the same. Particularly as the desire for social media "influencer" presence and the entrepreneurial paradigm in particular continues to grow.
Which is why i'm now asking a question, with love:
What kind of leader do you want to be in 2019????? How does she or he feel called to show up in your work leadership and life this year?
I know you wouldn't be here unless you were meant to be and ARE a great one. Here's to your shining supernova bright in 2019 xx
Until next time, have fun, take care.
Nat talks about Self Expression, Heart Centred Communication and Lifestyle for Leaders.