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Are we losing the ‘community’ in our community theatres?

July 17, 2017

Community is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. Being the best community theatre should be about being the best community who just also happens to create some wonderful theatre.

Sherryl-Lee Secomb

BLOG IMAGE

I can still remember the opening night of my very first show. As a 15 year old, you are a messy mix of wanting to be noticed and being horrified when you are. Oh, the ‘actoring’.

The joy was that I was surrounded by experience; people who helped me learn to perform and become brave enough to grow. The community in ‘community theatre’ was strong and, while I learned that there are good and not quite as good ways to approach a piece of theatre in the amateur world, I became aware that it was what participation in community theatre did for individuals that made it most appealing to me.

I love the ones who struggle with nerves, but do it anyway; who are brave; who step out of their comfort zones and into the cushioned and understanding arms of fellow performers in their local community theatre company.

Since I…

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How your integrity influences your theatre life.

April 29, 2017

Bushido on the stage!

Sherryl-Lee Secomb

Integrity and An Idiot On Stage

What does integrity look like to you? Is it even a thing anymore, and how does it play out in our world of community theatre?

On the surface, integrity can mean simply being a person of your word but, move deeper and it can influence how you treat people and allow others to be treated.

Let’s take a quick survey, and be brutally honest with yourself. No one is watching, so tell me which one of these statements applies to your current way of thinking –

  1. Integrity is like breathing to me. It says who I am and what I believe in.
  2. Integrity is something I put on when I need it. I wear it like the jumper Grandma gave me for Christmas last year – it’s itchy and uncomfortable but I have to put it on when she’s watching.
  3. Integrity – “Can you put it in a sentence?”

Here’s…

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hey buddy! What’s your story?

December 29, 2016

I am a firm believer in innate knowledge – stuff that we know but don’t necessarily know that we know. When we see that innate knowledge displayed in the people around us we don’t always recognise it in them either. It just is and they just know.

Think of an average guy, minding his own business when a man in a dark suit pushes past him provoking a surprised/angry response of “Hey buddy! What’s your story?” The dark suited man angrily mumbles something about making a huge mistake and then disappears into the crowd.

We might not think of the average guy as being particularly wise, but in that moment he is giving voice to a profound insight that unfortunately it seems our sullen friend in the dark suit isn’t able to hear. Shame really, he needs to. We all do.

So let me be that average guy for you – and you don’t even have to be rude and push past me!

What is your story?

What is the story you are telling yourself over and over again that is creating all this trouble and worry that appears to be the reality of your life? Whether the story is about you, or about someone else and the way you relate to them, what story are you telling yourself that is making you angry? Or sad? Or frustrated or disappointed?

Got it? Can you see it clearly? Good.

What ever the story is, stop it. Stop telling yourself that story and the feeling will change. Stop telling yourself that story and the reality of your life will change.

Now I am not saying don’t feel anything. Our feelings are there to give us important information about what is going on in the environment around us. We need to feel joy, surprise, anger, despair, disgust and shame.

What we don’t need is to keep telling ourselves the stories that keep re-triggering those feelings so that they become sustained, negative moods in our life.

And that is the wisdom that is in the average guy who yells “Hey Buddy! What’s your story?” at us as we push past him full of self-pity, frustration or righteous anger.

We are like the younger monk in one of my favourite teaching stories…

A young monk is traveling with an old monk when they come to a fast running river where they meet an old woman who asks for help in crossing. The young monk immediately informs her they are unable to help her as they have taken a vow to never again touch a woman. The old monk however simply smiles and lifts the woman onto his shoulders and carries her across the river and deposits her safely on the other side. The woman thanks the old monk and head off towards her destination.

The two monks continue their journey for many hours in silence until the younger monk cannot take it any longer and goes into a lengthy tirade, angrily accusing the older monk of breaking his vow and questioning his commitment. The old monk listens carefully and nods as the young monk berates him. When he has finished the old monk waits for a second before turning to his younger companion saying “I put the old woman down beside the river, why do you insist on continuing to carry her around?”

Listen to the average guy and the old monk. Give up your story about how things should be. Stop carrying all that extra weight around with you.

If you want to take this idea a step (or ten) further, watch this TED Talk by Donald Hoffman. His message is the same – what we think we perceive is not reality. Let go of that story if you can! Mind blowing stuff.

***

If you would like me to come and share with you and your team the benefits that come from my work in the theatre and the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

Here is what some participants have said about their experience with me:

I had the privilege of participating in the Samurai Game facilitated by Paul Marshall. As a school principal I found the game exciting, challenging and fulfilling. The game allowed me to see leadership from a new perspective and to reflect on my strengths and challenges as a leader. It was a wonderful experience. Paul is […]

Rick Sheehan (School Principal)

After reading the testimonials about the Samurai Game, I hadn’t fully understood what they meant about how it could be a challenging experience (even confronting) yet it was held in a safe and supportive environment. Having done it I can confirm it is all of that and more. What I particularly liked was the way […]

Steve Williams (Civil Engineer)

For more on the Samurai Game you should start here and here.

If you enjoyed reading this or my other posts and you would like to read more, you can subscribe and receive them via email simply by putting your email address into the Email Subscription box just on the right of my blog home page. You will receive a confirmation email (which some systems will think is spam so keep an eye on your junk mail) that you need to acknowledge to complete the subscription process.

After you have subscribed, send this post on to your friends. Go on. You know at least one person who should read this post and three more who could use a bit of shaking up… seriously. Do it now. You read this far so send it on! I promise they won’t judge you or think less of you if you do.

you are not naked until I can say you are

December 7, 2016

Vizini, the giant and Inigo

Vizzini:                   He didn’t fall?! Inconceivable!
Inigo Montoya:     You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

The Princess Bride

We grow up swimming in words and are at any moment at risk of drowning in our own meaning.

Think of words like mother and father. Love and family. Discipline and respect. You and I both know those words. I know they have meaning for you but I do not know for certain what that meaning is.  Words like soon, today, adequate and acceptable are tossed into conversations with barely a thought that between your mouth and my ear their meaning is subject to change without notice or noticing.

A lack of words can make absent that which we do not wish to exist.

I heard a very successful CEO and member of many Boards attribute their success to growing up in a traditional Chinese Malaysian family where all the children were treated equally and subject to the same parental expectations. She was not any different to her brothers. No words were spoken that suggested to her that there was things she could not do or should not do.

Nor was the absence of those words spoken about. She went out into the world like an Empress in her new clothes.

Like the proverbial Emperor, she was surprised to hear the whispers suggesting that she wasn’t behaving the way she should behave. Didn’t she know that women don’t do those sort of things! Unlike the Emperor though, she didn’t begin to doubt herself because she had clothed her self in the certainty that comes from experience. She could and had achieved many things and she knew why and it had nothing to do with gender.

Research suggests that we cannot see something unless we have words that can describe it. Up until now I guess I had thought that would be something that created limits to what was possible in our lives.  Words have helped me to see their absence can sometimes mean those limits are never created which makes anything possible.

***

If you would like me to come and share with you and your team the benefits that come from my work in the theatre and the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

Here is what some participants have said about their experience with me:

I had the privilege of participating in the Samurai Game facilitated by Paul Marshall. As a school principal I found the game exciting, challenging and fulfilling. The game allowed me to see leadership from a new perspective and to reflect on my strengths and challenges as a leader. It was a wonderful experience. Paul is […]

Rick Sheehan (School Principal)

After reading the testimonials about the Samurai Game, I hadn’t fully understood what they meant about how it could be a challenging experience (even confronting) yet it was held in a safe and supportive environment. Having done it I can confirm it is all of that and more. What I particularly liked was the way […]

Steve Williams (Civil Engineer)

For more on the Samurai Game you should start here and here.

If you enjoyed reading this or my other posts and you would like to read more, you can subscribe and receive them via email simply by putting your email address into the Email Subscription box just on the right of my blog home page. You will receive a confirmation email (which some systems will think is spam so keep an eye on your junk mail) that you need to acknowledge to complete the subscription process.

After you have subscribed, send this post on to your friends. Go on. You know at least one person who should read this post and three more who could use a bit of shaking up… seriously. Do it now. You read this far so send it on! I promise they won’t judge you or think less of you if you do.

 

 

the kindness of a tattooed lady

November 10, 2016

She wept alone but not unnoticed, surrounded by parents drinking coffee while their young families played in the morning sun and couples ate breakfast roti procured from the nearby market stalls.

I can’t say if it was the tattooed lady who first noticed her but she was the first to act. A simple act of inquiry. I was too far away to hear them but I imagine that the words “Are you ok?” accompanied the gentle touch on her shoulder.

It was embarrassment that came next, the shame. Thinking that other people now know that you are that person, the one who sits alone in a park beside the Sunday market crying into your latte. Composure quickly regained, assurances are offered

…yes I am fine and thank you no and really I will be ok there is just some stuff that I am dealing with at the moment

are you sure there isn’t anything I can do?

no thank you i will be fine but thank you …. thank you for asking. I’m fine…

The tattooed lady returns to her friends as unconvinced, I think, as I am that she is.

And I am at once overcome with despair and filled with hope and conflicted about what, if anything, I should do or not do. She is not ok, clearly. But that is ok, I think. There are plenty of things in this world that could easily see me sobbing in the street and many that should but that I don’t allow. Perhaps this woman is setting an example of crying into our coffee that we all should follow (though choosing perhaps a soy latte or long black if you are lactose intolerant. No need to create suffering unnecessarily!)

But then, I think, is it my reluctance to also offer myself and my concern about how that may be received that contributes to the current state of the world? I want to give her flowers, to buy her coffee, to invite her to sit with us a while and just be. But we are males and she is female and maybe that might be a cause of her sorrow and I may make it worse not better.

The tattooed lady has filled me with hope and maybe that is what I want for her. But she is crying again and I imagine that having been recognised for what it is by someone other than herself, the sorrow, or the grief or whatever it is that has overtaken her is now undeniable and has a depth and a density that she is no longer able to ignore.

And now I am struggling not to cry. I am discussing the complexities and frustrations of the electricity market in Australia with my brother and I can hear her sorrow rising up around through my words.

She has her head in her hands when the tattooed lady stops both our tears. She has bought the flowers I could not and again I am filled with despair and with hope. I want to believe that those flowers made enough of a difference, maybe not to ease the pain of living but to at least help make it bearable.

I hope they did.

Later as we were getting into the car to leave I saw the tattooed lady. I was clumsy and I think she might have thought for a minute that I meant her harm. Standing in her path all I could manage was to blurt at her an unexpectedly sudden “Thank you.”

“What for?” she asked. “For what you did back there” I replied and fled into my car.

***

losing momentum

November 4, 2016

Think about the last time you drove somewhere or took a taxi or an Uber.

How much time did you spend at a complete standstill? Stopped at a red light or in a line of vehicles at a stop sign? Waiting for the opportunity to turn across a line of steady traffic or just caught in peak hour grid-lock?

stopsignMy guess is quite a lot.

How much of that journey were you traveling under the speed limit not making as much progress towards your destination as you know is not just feasible but possible?

My guess is a significant proportion.

At those points in your journey how many times did you think to yourself “Wow, I have really lost momentum. I am not making any progress right now, maybe I am wasting my time and I should just give up and go back home?”

My guess is hardly ever.

 You know that red lights and waiting and traveling slower than you would like are a normal part of the journey. You accept that you will get to the destination if you keep on going.

Now think about the last time you took some action that was intended to move you towards a goal or different future.

How many times did you find yourself at a complete standstill, unable to move or just waiting for something that needs to happen?

My guess is quite a lot.

How much of that journey did you feel like were you traveling under your personal speed limit and not making as much progress towards your destination as you know is not just feasible but possible?

My guess is a significant proportion.

At those points in your journey how many times did you think to yourself “Wow, I have really lost momentum. I am not making any progress towards my dreams right now, maybe I am wasting my time and I should just give up and go back home?”

If you are like me, my guess is far too often.

Why is that?

You know that red lights and waiting and traveling slower than you would like are a normal part of the journey – so just accept it.

You will achieve your goals and dreams if you keep on going. So even if you are stopped, keep going.

***

My thanks to Maribel [at]  purplerunconsulting.com.au for creating the insights behind this post in me. She believes that engagement drives performance and innovation which is why all of the work Maribel does with organisations is directed towards creating the leadership and culture capabilities necessary for business excellence. Get in touch with her if you are looking for inspiration.

If you would like me to come and share with you and your team the benefits that come from my work in the theatre and the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

Here is what some participants have said about their experience with me:

I had the privilege of participating in the Samurai Game facilitated by Paul Marshall. As a school principal I found the game exciting, challenging and fulfilling. The game allowed me to see leadership from a new perspective and to reflect on my strengths and challenges as a leader. It was a wonderful experience. Paul is […]

Rick Sheehan (School Principal)

After reading the testimonials about the Samurai Game, I hadn’t fully understood what they meant about how it could be a challenging experience (even confronting) yet it was held in a safe and supportive environment. Having done it I can confirm it is all of that and more. What I particularly liked was the way […]

Steve Williams (Civil Engineer)

For more on the Samurai Game you should start here and here.

If you enjoyed reading this or my other posts and you would like to read more, you can subscribe and receive them via email simply by putting your email address into the Email Subscription box just on the right of my blog home page. You will receive a confirmation email (which some systems will think is spam so keep an eye on your junk mail) that you need to acknowledge to complete the subscription process.

After you have subscribed, send this post on to your friends. Go on. You know at least one person who should read this post and three more who could use a bit of shaking up… seriously. Do it now. You read this far so send it on! I promise they won’t judge you or think less of you if you do.

 

 

can you hear that?

October 26, 2016

I don’t want to be the one coming out in support of gender stereotypes, but…

it is true that there are certain things my wife can hear that I cannot. Like these things:

Puppies in a line

Middle of the night or middle of the day, middle of a storm – it doesn’t matter. If they so much as squeak she will hear them. The only time I am aware that they are making noise is usually preceded by her saying “can you hear that?”. I can’t but I am now wide awake and able to hear lots of other things. The result is the same though, neither of us can sleep.

In my defence there are things that I can hear that she seems unable to. Like this:

A dishwasher

The dishwasher is mostly my responsibility: filling it, emptying it and repairing it when it breaks. Has been for the last 15 years. To me there is a very clear difference between the ‘everything is operating correctly’ noise it makes and, for example, the sounds that come from it when a cutting board or piece of cutlery has stopped the arm from spinning. Day or night, rain or shine it doesn’t matter, my attention is drawn to it. Nobody else in the house hears it or seems to care.

Actually, that’s not quite true. Whether it is puppies or dishwashers or a request for everyone in the team to please make sure the paperwork is complete and filed correctly before closing out an order … we all hear those things. The sound waves do reach our ear drums but we often don’t listen to them – until we care.

The nights that my wife is not home and I am responsible for puppies I do not sleep well. It always seems they somehow know to be especially noisy on that one night over all others. They aren’t. It is just that on that night I care and I listen.

So if you are being kept awake at night because you are having trouble communicating with someone in your team don’t ask them “Can you hear what I am saying?” – they can. Don’t ask  them “What do I have to do to get you to listen?” – that is the wrong question. Ask “What can I do to help them to care about the things that I care about?” – once you have the answer you will be able to sleep like a baby. Unless you have a baby. Then you never sleep…

***

If you would like me to come and share with you and your team the benefits that come from my work in the theatre and the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

Here is what some participants have said about their experience with me:

I had the privilege of participating in the Samurai Game facilitated by Paul Marshall. As a school principal I found the game exciting, challenging and fulfilling. The game allowed me to see leadership from a new perspective and to reflect on my strengths and challenges as a leader. It was a wonderful experience. Paul is […]

Rick Sheehan (School Principal)

After reading the testimonials about the Samurai Game, I hadn’t fully understood what they meant about how it could be a challenging experience (even confronting) yet it was held in a safe and supportive environment. Having done it I can confirm it is all of that and more. What I particularly liked was the way […]

Steve Williams (Civil Engineer)

For more on the Samurai Game you should start here and here.

If you enjoyed reading this or my other posts and you would like to read more, you can subscribe and receive them via email simply by putting your email address into the Email Subscription box just on the right of my blog home page. You will receive a confirmation email (which some systems will think is spam so keep an eye on your junk mail) that you need to acknowledge to complete the subscription process.

After you have subscribed, send this post on to your friends. Go on. You know at least one person who should read this post and three more who could use a bit of shaking up… seriously. Do it now. You read this far so send it on! I promise they won’t judge you or think less of you if you do.

 

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