How often do we do the same behaviors day in and day out? Do we take the same route to work? Do we do the same tasks in the same order every day? Do we have the same marketing activities year after year?
Of course, we do! People are creatures of habit, and it is these habits if perfected over time, that help us become productive and focused. Imagine having to do everything differently for a day. It would be chaos.
What I have been trying to do the past several months is do something, one thing, that I have never done each week. It might be something as mundane as trying a food I’ve never had before, or it might be a more transformative experience.
About two months ago I joined the cast of “Inherit the Wind” at the Aloha Theater. In 47 years I had never felt the desire to act on stage. I was very comfortable seeing nearly every Aloha Performing Arts Company production over the years, when we traveled, we always tried to make theater part of our itinerary.
In the six weeks of rehearsals and three weeks of shows, I experienced a lot. I was not in my comfort zone until opening nights, so it was a challenge for me to figure out what I should be doing and when.
By stepping outside of my everyday routine, I was able to learn the following:
- The value of following instead of leading. As a company owner, all responsibility falls on me. I set the tone, plan the projects and guide the employees. As an actor (and not even a very important one to the play), I was able to observe how our director, producer, set designer, set builders, and others in the play manage and coordinate others.
- The value of being unimportant. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but it was great to spend six weeks being, perhaps, the least important person on the stage. I enjoyed the time I spent watching others—the director, main characters—do the heavy lifting.
- The value of systems. Theater productions have definite stages: cold reading, blocking (movement), off-book (no script), dress rehearsal, and daily “notes”. This iterative process, which told us what to focus on and when was a good reminder that you need to break down tasks and focus on each element at a time.
- The value of feedback. A play has a lot of moving parts and a lot of egos. Some of the actors were doing their first play and others had been parts of numerous productions prior to ours. The director, of course, gave the most feedback, but every day there was subtle and not-so-subtle coaching by the actors to the actors. The overwhelming majority of the comments were constructive.
- The value of being part of something bigger than yourself. It’s easy to live our lives in silos: work, family, and friends. Becoming part of a play helped me to see how twenty-some people, working together, and supporting each other could make for a show that was seen and enjoyed by nearly 1,000 people.
My call to action is not to encourage everyone to try out for a theater production; instead, it is to encourage readers to try something new, something completely different.
Whether it is stand-up paddle boarding, dance lessons, visiting a church from a different faith, sign waving for a candidate you support, or something else. It does not matter: try something new. Commit to doing it once!