Live In Love

One of the reasons that I chose to work for myself was that I had begun to find my big corporate job stifling. It wasn’t letting me be me. It certainly wasn’t allowing me the opportunity to sing or dance or to go and see performing arts of all kinds - which I’ve loved ever since I could stand up, shimmy and wail simultaneously.

Since ditching the corporate grind I have deliberately created space for performing arts in my life again. And, boy, have they taught me stuff.

I was having one of our regular kitchen chats with my husband, telling him about a well-worn pattern that I run – I want to throw myself into something fully but I hold back. I self-sabotage. I may not do the prep, or I avoid the work, or I get into my own head at the critical moment of performance. It had happened to me a few times recently. He said ‘You know what? This thing you do; it’s the same pattern, whether you are singing or running your business. I think if you crack it in one area, you’ll crack both’.

I have a broken piece of balsa wood in the bookshelves in our music room. On it, in pink marker is written “Fear of Performing”. When I was taking my coaching accreditation a few years back my mentor made me write down a pattern, belief or fear I wanted to be rid of and break the wood with a single karate chop. I wrote “Fear of Performing” because at that time I was just tentatively starting to sing and dance again and was finding it hard to get over myself and get out there. I smashed the wood (after a few attempts) and felt joyous. But I know now that what I was afraid of wasn’t performing – I love singing, I love dancing.

I am afraid of failing. Of not being good enough. That is the real fear.

Why am I sharing this? Because I’m honest. Because mine is a common or garden fear - almost every leader I work with tells me they feel or have felt the same way at one point or another. They aren't afraid of performing - they want to perform. They're afraid of failing, or of putting themselves out there honestly and vulnerably and being judged.

And because my husband is right (Happy Valentine’s darling – there’s your gift right there).

The secrets of performing freely and without fear are the same whether you are talking about business or performing arts. The way musicians, dancers and actors connect with people, access creativity and step up to perform courageously can be taught to leaders in business. And learning how to solve these challenges has never been more relevant. As we seek more authentic, human centred ways of working, as leaders are scrutinised more, as we realise that, pretty soon, the un-human work stuff will all be automated. Soon all that will be left of work is the stuff that is about being human, magnificently.

The performing arts world has known how to access this all along. Shakespeare predated Freud by centuries. We’ve been singing, dancing and telling stories since we emerged from the caves. The performing arts are the essence of what it means to be human. If businesses are ready to go there, this is where they should look. 

This is why I'm choosing to bring my love of performing arts together with my love for developing leaders. It's an endeavour grounded in love for something, rather than fear of failing. I genuinely believe that these two loves of mine are a marriage made in heaven.

Because of this, you'll soon start to see the Little Tent brand focus more on the bridge between the world of business and performing arts, including a leadership development proposition like no other! If you're curious, if you would like to collaborate, or if you too think there may be more to performing arts in business than using actors to make training more interesting, why not follow Little Tent here or over on Twitter (@little_tent ) or Instagram (@littletentuk).

Happy Valentine's Day.