March 8, 2012
CRITERION #12 – PERMISSION
When you stand on stage, you have permission
to deliver a performance. Take it.
OK. Let’s review the facts. You have agreed to get up in front of a group of people, to open your mouth and deliver some well-chosen words of wisdom - be they ever so humble. Whether you know it or not, you have now entered the ranks of the Performing Arts. You are in the same heady company as Bernhardt, Olivier, Fairbanks… Streep, Hoffman and even Stallone. So are you prepared to rise to the challenge?
Hesitant? Well, consider this. It’s absolutely true that when you walk onto a stage, you have permission to deliver a performance. As audience members, we’re all familiar with the convention of the theatre. We’re familiar with the experience of sitting in the dark with a crowd of other people, and focusing our attention on the stage. As we fix our gaze expectantly on the scene under the lights, we’re ready to enjoy ourselves; we’re ready for a performance. The actors absolutely have our permission to deliver one. Frankly, if they don’t, we’ll feel cheated.
Well, why would it be any different for your moment in the spotlight? It’s your stage. And you can do with it whatever you care to do. But, for goodness’ sake do something, because otherwise you’re just taking up space.
Now, to those whose retort is that they’re just not the kind of person who cares to stand in the spotlight… they’re humble, and self-effacing, and secure in their anonymity… I say “You are deluded”. If you take on a responsibility that involves interfacing with groups of people, then you also have taken on the responsibility of providing leadership. And leadership requires putting some skin in the game. You can’t be a leader if you don’t allow the people in your group to get to know you… and vice-versa.
For those who speak a lot, know they are weak (or even awful), but justify it by saying… “Well, I am what I am. I don’t care to improve, really” … I goad them a little by asking them to consider that “a good speaker is the envy of very person in the audience.” Is this not true? Do they, themselves, not recognize that there are good and bad speakers… and sometimes envy the command that they see others exhibiting? Are you sure you wouldn’t like to be better. You have permission, you know. Certainly, you have mine. Now you just need yours.