Order Switch

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Wait, there has to be a mistake….I didn’t hear my name called.

I stood catching my breath, after just nailing the dance combination and singing my heart out at the callbacks for the National Broadway Tour of A Chorus Line.

And this wasn’t the first time I had been in.  I had been called back for the Broadway production, and was invited in by casting for the Tour.

I had done everything the same.  I sang the same song, I knew the choreography forwards and backwards.  I wore the same outfit, and I had nailed the infamously hard pirouette sequence.

So, why was I cut?

I just gave the performance of my life.
Was it not enough?

As I watched other friends and peers stay for the next round, I found myself blinking back tears, lowering my eyes as they started to sting.

I didn’t want to be seen like this.

As quickly as I could, I made my way to the dressing room, and changed out of my sweaty leotard and tights, and around me other dancers who were cut were voicing their disbelief and denial,

Why did I even come today?
I totally messed up the dance!
They weren’t even looking at me.
The show must already be cast.
Well, back to the day job.

And as I stuffed my leotard and feelings into my backpack, so many emotions rose in my throat, choking me off.  I was both angry and deeply confused.

I had thought for sure after being in callbacks for Broadway, I would book the Tour.

I was wrong, and I never did the show, and casting actually never called me back in.  I went from being seriously considered to no longer considered.

Just like that.

 

It’s Maddening, isn’t it?

You spend hours, days, weeks, years on your Creative Process and building your craft.  You put your heart and soul into your work and then you stand up, put it out there for your audience, and say,

HERE I AM!

You are giving your all, full of energy, hands open, eyes open, just waiting for approval, waiting for validation.

And what do you hear?

Next!
Nope!

Or even worse….crickets.

It feels completely unfair, doesn’t it?
It feels completely unbalanced.

You are giving so much.  Why isn’t it being returned?

 

Integrative Therapist and Coach Tom Tynan breaks down the world into two types:

The Givers and the Takers.

It’s pretty much exactly as you would imagine, the Givers always give first in order to receive, and the Takers take first in order to give.

So, what commonly happens?

Well, the Givers become exhausted.  They go through endless roller coasters of feeling good when they give, and then burning out when they are not recharged.  Basically, they give until they are empty.

Sound familiar?
What category would you put yourself in?

How many times have you given endlessly with your Creative work and saw no return?
Do you then feel motivated to try again?

So, what’s the answer in this cycle, since as Creatives, we so desperately want to give?

What do we do in that moment of crying out,
PICK ME PICK ME!

We need to learn how to RECEIVE.

I recently asked a writer in my tribe what it means to “Receive as an Artist”, and he couldn’t answer.

Bingo.

I know I never had an acting, dance or singing teacher give me tools or any teaching around receiving. In truth, it was a completely foreign word in my performance career. I kept viewing it all through what I had to give.

And even more so, we need to reverse the process so we don’t burn out as Artists, which means we need to Receive FIRST, and then GIVE.

So, what does this mean for you and your process?

There are two elements here to consider,

1) Having the quiet space before we go into action and into our work to actually receive our creative inspiration
2) Being able to receive what we are actually given by our audience, whether they are people hiring us or taking in our art.  Our audience is directly tied to our livelihood as Artists.

For that former dancer who was so heartbroken and frustrated at the Chorus Line callback, I didn’t have any kind of daily practice to recharge. I was pretty much operating on two extremes,

On and Off
Highs and Lows

Now I start my day with meditation, have a daily gratitude practice, and go to yoga weekly. I now have a way to open to receive BEFORE the action, to calm my monkey mind, a place of quiet.

And this may be different for you, but ask yourself, how do you recharge? And I don’t mean, distract. I’m not talking about binge watching Netflix or disappearing into social media for hours. This isn’t about escape, but about nourishing your Creative Being.

The powerful question is, how do you fill your Creative cup back up so you feel inspired?

Because the magic is, when we are able to recharge and fill our own cup, then we have the capacity to receive the rejection or being cut or experience the disappointment and use it as information.

Information instead of judgement.
Evidence to continue, instead of give up.

For whatever reason, the creative team behind A Chorus Line decided I wasn’t right for their show, and if I had these tools at that time, I could have taken a step back and known this was not a reflection on my ability.

But it was a reflection that I was burned out. And it was information to move on to the next opportunity and the next creative team who would value my talent.

We can so commonly get caught in the belief that we are not enough, that our work is not enough, but for all you givers out there, I have a gift instead:

Receive first, and then Give with your Creativity.

And ask yourself the simple question,
How AM I enough as an Artist?

Next time you find yourself caught in the frustration and feeling like no one cares,  make a list of how you are enough.  When you phrase the question this way, it can only be positive.

Because it’s from that place of knowing what you actually bring to the table, that your greatest work will occur.

Your Creativity Test

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Which of the following multiple choice questions would apply BEST to the correct answer?
A….
B…..
C…..
D……

And you look at the clock.

How would you describe this situation BEST?
A….
B……
C…..

Shift in your chair, stare at the clock, scratch an itch, and sigh deeply. How many MORE of these do you have to answer?

Dear God….there are 155 questions and you’re only on question number 45. And you already want it be over.

And in it creeps.
I hate tests
Why do I have to do this
What is the point?

Have you been here?  Staring at a screen or blank piece of paper, finding yourself shutting down?

What if the test is something else, like meeting a writing deadline or submitting your creative work for consideration, or completing your project?

Tests come in many forms with your Creativity. They come in many forms in your life.

And the question we often find ourselves asking is:
Why the heck is it is taking SO LONG??

 

Last week I sat down to take an online test for my ICF accreditation. ICF is the International Coaching Federation and as I had completed all my hours and my mentoring sessions with my coach, this test was the last piece. I had an idea it would take some time, but felt pretty prepared.

I was excited. I had put in a lot of time with my studies and mentoring, and was looking forward to the official accreditation to validate my intentions and efforts, and take
me to the next level as a coach for my clients.

So, I dived in.

I had three hours to complete the test and thought,
There’s no way it will take that long!

And then I saw there were 155 questions.

It began smoothly, but I began to fidget and become frustrated with the questions. So many were written in corporate settings and all my training and experience has been in the private sector.

I wasn’t seeing myself in these questions.

I began to fidget.
And I began to get frustrated.

And I began to slow down.

I found myself saying the questions out loud, trying to make sense of it, and starting to doubt myself. And an inner voice started saying

Who are these questions for?
Why aren’t they including me?

And I slowed down even more.  I was coming up against a wall.

This wasn’t what I usually experienced! I was valedictorian in school, I practice meditation. Why am I having so much trouble?

And then I stopped and realized…THIS was the test.

Could I take a moment and be aware of what was getting in my way, take a breath, release it and then move forward?

Yes….it was just taking longer than I thought.

Two and a half hours later, I hit the final button and received the message congratulating me,

You passed!

Indeed. This had been the end goal.

What if I had stopped?
What if I had thrown up my hands and yelled and screamed?
What if I had spiraled down into the anger and belief I was being “wronged”, and didn’t finish in the three hours?

Maybe then I would believe I was a quitter. Maybe then I would just avoid it all together.

And what would happen to all that work and energy I had put into my training?

What happens to all the work and energy you’ve put into your Creative Craft?

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Meet Billy Porter. He’s a Tony and Grammy award winning singer, been in countless Broadway shows, directs, composes, and is a playwright. He’s one of the most celebrated performers on the Great White Way today working across all mediums.

In a recent interview he said:

“For me as an artist, the best thing that ever happened to me was the lack of work. The best thing that ever happened to me was that it didn’t turn out the way I thought I was ENTITLED to have it be, because I was talented. You know what I mean?

Everybody’s talented once you get to a certain level. Everybody in the room can sing. Everybody in the room can act. Everybody in the room is cute.

So, what makes YOU different, what makes you stand out?

What makes you rise to the top above the rest?

It’s  about showing up.

It’s about having the courage to try new things, to create your own project, to create your own work. Right now I’m working with this director and we are doing plays in a living room. If you’re not interested in doing plays in a living room then you can’t be interested in doing a play on Broadway.

You have to be willing to do your work anywhere. You can not WAIT for anyone to give you permission to practice your work.

You have to be practicing all the time.”

All the time.

So, where do you stop and slow down? Can you view each challenge and moment of “this isn’t how I thought it would be” to act as information instead of feeding a belief you are not capable?

What if you showed up, regardless?  That belief you are not capable would probably get blown out of the water. You may star on Broadway, you may get a coaching certification, you may even decide to launch a business based on your Creative Spark.

This is YOUR test. Take a breath, come back to the practice, and rise.

Rise to the top and create anew.