Acting v. Being Yourself
A few year ago I was in a play cast as an old lady. I think the actual old lady who was meant to play the part had died, so enter stage left.....27 year old Anna! My brothers and sisters have called me Grandma since I was kid, so I thought I've got this one nailed. Turns out, consistently acting like a an very old lady is hard.
I had put so much energy into every second I was on stage remembering to stoop over a bit, to shuffle instead of walk. I even had to work out how to do a full dance routine old lady style. It took a lot of brain power, and it was pretty funny, but exhausting. Even when I thought I had really nailed it a friend who watched the show said the funniest bit was when I snapped out of character did something as a 27 year old without realising, only to become a Grandma again seconds later. Acting is harder than it looks. What percentage of your time do you spend acting at work? And if you are like, non Anna, I am not an actor, I want you to think again. What percentage of your time are you playing a role which isn't quite you? What percentage of your time are you pretending to be bit like someone you're not? I spoke with a new client this week who said she just wanted to stop acting at work. To just be able to show up as herself. Curious, I asked her, what do you think will happen if you are able to stop acting and just show up at work as yourself? She thought for a moment, then gave me this beautiful answer..... Whatever I say, I will say it with less qualifiers. I wont worry so much about what other people think of me all the time. I wont feel so much self doubt. I'd be calmer, more efficient. I think my leadership would be better. Because, you know, people can sense it when you aren't being yourself.... ...and I would feel more in control and think less. And I'd probably be able to close my mind when I close my laptop at the end of the day instead of playing things over in my mind. And just enjoy life things. I think it would feel nice. I think I'd have space for more enjoyment because I'd be feeling less anxious. It was good intuition on her part, because what she described is exactly what I see happen for my clients when they stop acting and actually start being themselves. That thing they really feared being, is the VERY thing that really works. They find being themselves it's actually the sweetest way to be because suddenly they don't have to remember the script. They don't have to remember all the right words and the right way to say them. They don't have to endlessly think about what they are doing and how they are doing it and what everyone else is thinking about it. Acting is hard. When you can stop acting you get so much space inside your brain to just BE. To be present. And guess what happens when you are more present? You just say the thing you want to say without second guessing yourself. When you are presenting you are really talking to the people in the room and connecting with them, instead of focusing on the voice in your own head. You can 'think as you go' instead of having a frozen brain, so when someone asks you a question, you can listen to them, think, then answer it. Yes, it takes a bit of work to learn how to be yourself. But the acting takes a lot of work too. So here are your options: (a) Keep doing the work of acting; or (b) Do the work now and drop the act, for good. If you want to stop acting and to finally learn how to just be yourself, I can help you. Join the Confident at Work programme and start being your real self by summer. Reply to this email now to join us, this round closes next week. A massive part of your confidence comes from your ability to see that it's actually okay to be who you are. In fact, it's the best way. Love Anna x