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Dramatic.success.at.Work - Using Theatre Skills to Improve Your Performance

Dramatic.success.at.Work - Using Theatre Skills to Improve Your Performance

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Published by: tps5970 on Nov 20, 2009
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06/03/2013

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However, there’s a fine line between seeing things through and
holding on too long. While you’ve got to show complete deter-
mination to get results; if you involve others you’ve also got to
give them their head to see it through to the end. Experience tells
us when to hold on, when to let go and when to give others free
rein.

This is rather like the difference between ‘delegating’ and
‘dumping’. Good delegation is a two-way process, negotiating with
the person over whether they’re capable and ready to take on a task
or responsibility, setting some goals and coaching them through
the process so that they’re able to deliver what you want. Dumping
is merely offloading onto someone with no support or choice.

170

SCENE 3:ORGANIZATIONALINITIATIVE

‘It takes 20 years to make

an overnight success.’

Eddie Cantor,performer

Our capitalist society is meant to hunger for new ideas and
supposedly stimulates breakthroughs and welcomes them with
open arms. Yet history shows otherwise. In fact it often takes
almost superhuman perseverance to win through, to make some-
thing you want happen. A perennial loser called Sparky, who had
his cartoons rejected by the school magazine and even worse by
Walt Disney, eventually turned himself into Schultz of Peanuts and
Charlie Brown fame. Richard Attenborough took over a decade to
get his film Gandhiinto production. Five publishers turned down
the Harry Potter books. James Dyson hawked his new style vacuum
cleaner fruitlessly around scores of companies.
How come some people beat the odds? Is it luck, who they
know, money, influence? Though all of these play a part, the main
reason a new initiative wins is persistence. Someone, or maybe a
whole team, takes responsibility for seeing it through. Such per-
sistence usually stems from what is at stake.
Listen to Michael Attenborough about his directorial work
at the Royal Shakespeare Company: ‘I suppose the thing that peo-
ple don’t understand is the scale of responsibility. Everything,
absolutely everything, is my responsibility. If a prop is wrong, if a
costume doesn’t look right, if a performance isn’t happening cor-
rectly, if a lighting cue looks ridiculous – whatever – it’s my respon-
sibility, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, speaking personally.
It’s very difficult in any walk of life (and certainly in artistic terms)
to have partial responsibility for something, and the hallmark of
the director’s job is to take complete responsibility.’
For Harrison Ford it was his unshakeable inner belief in his
ability that was at stake. Having trained as an actor he kept going
for years, working in menial jobs and then as a carpenter on a film
set, until he was finally picked for a prime film role.
Most actors know the humiliation of pitching for business in
dispiriting auditions where they are treated like cattle. For them
rejection is personal; it is not the same as having your product or

171

ACT III:GETTINGYOURORGANIZATION’SACTTOGETHER

‘Diamonds are only chunks

of coal,that stuck to their

jobs,you see.’

Minnie Richard Smith,poet

‘I come from a profession

where there was a lot of

discipline.And because

there was a lot of rejection

you have to build a great

deal of self-belief.’

Christopher Reeve,actor,

on coping with disability

service turned down. Such experiences make performers experts in
rejection that many of us would probably find intolerable. How
they handle such struggle and persist carries important lessons for
anyone in business aspiring to make things happen.
While persistence underpins all initiatives, it can also
descend into irrational pig-headedness. That can happen to even
the most talented person. To avoid it you need to be able to listen
to those around you.

For actors and stage directors it’s the audience who give you
the warning. In business, the audience may be anyone from share-
holders to employees who, like you, also care about the company.
For example, against all advice, often passionately expressed, Lord
Simpson of Marconi pressed ahead and sold the company’s most
pedestrian yet profitable lines of business. The company’s shares
became almost worthless within a year.

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