I constantly find it interesting as I travel around the country meeting different teams, how many individuals in our profession struggle with their confidence and often have a lack of self-belief. I know that most payroll and HR professionals will recognise that they have the knowledge and experience which is more than sufficient to do their job well, but when it comes to pushing themselves forward to greater things, they struggle and find excuses and reasons to not progress. Although there are courses and seminars that can help in boosting confidence, I have personally found a few things that have helped me in recent years that have been thoroughly enjoyable.
In 2014, I saw a local advertisement on Facebook looking for individuals to join a cast to perform the Rock Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar in Lincoln Cathedral. Initially I thought it was a singing role, and having been in choirs etc. all my life I thought I’d give it a go. I was quite wrong about it only requiring singing, as it became quite clear that some ‘acting’ would also be part of the production. I’ve never been keen on party games, or even wearing a paper hat at Christmas so it was definitely a bit daunting never having ‘performed’ much previously. For the first few weeks I stood on the sidelines for quite a lot of the time, hiding in the background watching and looking on at how others managed the process. It took a while and a lot of support from my Superstar cast members for me to really ‘let go’ and stop worrying about what people around me were thinking. I constantly asked myself if I was any good, were people looking at me, could I actually do this and worried incessantly that I was sticking out like a sore thumb.
In fact, the reality of the situation was completely the opposite. If you didn’t participate fully, it was a lot more noticeable than if you joined in with all your heart and soul.
Learn how to be Supportive of Others
I have read, and seen quite often, that many professionals (and a few amateur) actors (and professionals in industry) have a reputation for being egotistical and perhaps a ‘drama queen’, but that doesn’t mean we have to be the same. Some of the best people that we could work with are those who help their fellow team or cast members. Rather than each of us thinking about ourselves the entire time we’re in rehearsals, or at work, it’s really helpful to learn what’s happening with the rest of the ensemble or department. In work as well as in an acting environment, it really pays to learn to be a team player and lend a hand to those who need a little support; we’ll be able to forge incredible ties and have a more positive, memorable experience.
It can be hard not to be vulnerable on stage or when presenting in a meeting or in front of senior managers, especially if we’re unaccustomed to being in front of an audience, whoever they are. However, if we’ve committed to be in a production, or taking a new role and agreed to take on that added responsibility, whether its part of an acting ensemble or in a new job, its essential that we let go of our fears fully.
To achieve the unimaginable, we should really try to push through our perceived boundaries; really, they are only holding us back. If a Senior Manager, Production Director or fellow Actor makes a suggestion, don’t automatically assume you can’t do it. Try it. The more open we can be, the better our performances will appear to the audience, or our meeting attendees.
One thing that really worked for me, and continues to do so, is to always imagine what the audience would think. I had the privilege of performing in Jesus Christ Superstar in Lincoln Cathedral in both 2015 and in the return run in 2016, 18 shows in all.
All around the Cathedral Nave, being really close to the audience, I could watch their reactions to what was going on in the performance. Those sorts of memories, the faces as they watched the show, continue to help me ensure that I throw everything into what I do so that my audience, whoever they are, really understand and appreciate what I’m doing, whether acting, or in my professional life