The Performance Benefits of Falling in Love With Your Audience!
“Great Performance Is Only Possible When The Heart Is On Fire and The Mind Is On Ice.”
In our last blog posting, we looked at “The Debilitating Effects of Fear and How to Move Past Them.” In this one, we’re going to examine the only other thing that ever motivates us: “Love!” No matter what we’re doing, it’s either fear or love that is dictating our actions. And if you’re the type who likes jumping out of planes with a parachute, it can be the love of fear…..Or if you’re the type who stays out of or sabotages intimate relationships….it’s the fear of love. But anything you can mention, always reduces down to one or the other. Many people think they have a love of money because they lust for it. But when you start to really examine this dynamic, a number of them are actually being driven by a significant fear of poverty or of the loss of identity as a person of “wealth” When people hoard wealth, they are operating from fear. Reasonably saving your money isn’t the same as hoarding because you’re operating as though you still have enough to spend while also saving for the future. Standard, given economic principles show that wealth is most likely to be increased significantly when it’s generously shared, invested and circulated, within reason. So moving “toward” wealth is significantly more effective than running in fear away from the potential of poverty. Our beliefs are powerful enough to create our reality. And when we believe the world is a scarce place? It’s indeed likely to show up that way for us.
For the sake of this posting, we’ll define a love-based endeavor as anything you’re moving TOWARD rather than AWAY FROM. Or, expansive rather than contractive. Since the universe has been proven to be expansive, anything love-based is supported by quantum physics as being within the energetic flow of that universe rather than constrictive which works “against.” At times when you have operated from fear, you most likely found that if you managed to actually accomplish what you endeavored, it was probably like swimming upstream! An old adage states that giving “99% is a bitch! But 100% is a breeze!” The idea here is that when you’re fully committed to something, you stop being concerned about what you’re giving and are generously and passionately driven TOWARD what you’re endeavoring. When you’re begrudgingly giving just enough to qualify as actually being involved in the project but not fully committed, then the endeavor becomes “work” in the truest sense of the word. This famous passage speaks eloquently to this dynamic:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!” – William Hutchison Murray, 1951
From a neurological standpoint, the locus of function when we are in a love-based endeavor, shifts into the pre-frontal lobe designed for rational thought and also into the heart! And this has been confirmed by research done at the Heartmath Institute. The amygdala charged with flight or fight, stands down and relaxes. So moving TOWARD (love-based) what we want instead of AWAY (fear-based) from what we DON’T want, is imperative to shift neurologically into the mode best suited for our presentation.
When I work with my clients, I’m always trying to focus their perspective on prioritizing the thing(s) about which they feel passionate, and just why it is that this presentation should even be given in the first place! In the TED Talks that many of you have seen, their tagline is: ”Ideas worth spreading.” That generally means that the speaker is excited about sharing the information about which they’re speaking. So it’s no wonder that they have largely become the standard for an engaging presentation. Being excited about sharing something is an ENTIRELY love-based direction for a presentation. If all you’re trying to do is talk them into buying some widget you’re selling so you can make sales figures and keep your job, it’s going to be a hard presentation and not nearly as likely to produce the results you’re seeking. Obviously because it’s an essentially fear-based endeavor. Now if you’re jazzed as all get-out about that widget and you authentically feel it’s in your audience’s best interest to have it? NOW you’re talking! My work with clients is ultimately about helping them refine and focus their energies down only to those things that support a passionate, energetic performance or presentation and to be completely themselves while doing it to the exclusion of all else! When this happens, even the shyest person can manifest a truly passionate experience of themselves in performance that is both totally authentic and surprising to them! Their comfort zone expands ENORMOUSLY too! And after they experience themselves that way, they’ve learned the route they took to get there and it belongs to them from then on! And I get to make myself obsolete as their coach!
In the Empowered Actor Workshop that I teach, we experiment with the different energies that performers can encounter from the audience and from themselves using the Kinesthetic Testing we touched on in the previous blog posting on fear. We create a context in which the audience is silently “sending” the two love-based or fear-based energies to the performer without they’re knowing what’s even going on. We do this to bypass the cognitive brain and leave the effects solely to the energy created in the room and testing the performer at each silently-signaled change in that energy. The results are indeed startling that the energy being intentionally “sent” by an audience is enormously impactful to the performer. Being actors and wanting the maximum control over the performance they can get, they’re obviously concerned about the ramifications of this test! So I present the solution which is proven by the audience “sending” their strongest fear-based energies while the performer focuses on something they truly love or something or someone about which or whom they feel passionate. And when doing so, the performer ALWAYS tests the strongest of all the tests!!
This is the reason that a single performer can galvanize and join an audience into the oneness that many of us have experienced at a truly moving concert or play. I like to think it’s one of those rare moments in which we can see behind the veil and actually get a glimpse of the truth that the physicists tell us that we’re all connected energetically to each other. Our five senses can tend to blind us to this fact in our separate five-sensual experiences. But atomic molecular structure research has already clearly proven our connections……at least on a cognitive basis for any of you who have studied physics both Newtonian and especially, Quantum. When performers have removed the blocks to it and are fully in touch with the love of what they’re doing, their performance creates magic for themselves and their audience.
When you’re in the experience of passionate performance whether it’s speaking, singing, dancing or any other performance endeavor, you’re in “The Zone!” And when you’re there, time tends to stand still. There’s a truly singular and complete commitment to something you clearly love. It protects and inoculates you from any fear and transforms an audience because the performer becomes the most un-conflicted person there. And the one who is the most un-conflicted is always the strongest one in any relationship. Fear is always future-oriented about past-referenced experiences and takes us completely out of present time. I saw that literally thousands of times in auditions when an actor would lose their place in a script and fear would come over them and completely derail their performance. They were out of synch with what was going on because they were ruminating over what had just happened and were divided between past and present, while inhabiting neither one! Passion on the other hand, is found completely in the moment as all major philosophies teach. And when we live in that present tense without concern for the past or future, life takes on a passion and a fulfillment unavailable to us otherwise. In my particular case, I find this regularly performing as a musician as this requires not only my being present time, but since I’m a drummer, the even flow of time is specifically my responsibility within the ensembles in which I perform. I have found the times when I have been gifted with the inhabitation of “the zone,” pretty intoxicating! And it’s a real incentive to keep visiting!
In the 1981 Academy Award-winning film, “Chariots of Fire,” the lead character is being asked by his sister why it is that he runs instead of doing something useful with his life like being a minister like his father and grandfather. His answer is one of the best descriptions of being “in the zone” of any I’ve ever encountered. He replies, “Because God made me fast. And when I run, I can feel his pleasure!” I truly hope for many such “heart on fire/mind on ice” moments for you in your life, as it will truly make for a great one!