Throughout this year, I have written a number of articles and blog posts on taking risk, aiming high, owning your gifts, and living into your greatest potential. In his April 16th blog post, my good friend and colleague David Robinson wrote about how we present ourselves to the world, how we claim our own personal power in our work (or not), and whether we are focused on what we can get for what we offer, or on what we can give. Having spent so many years as a professional singer, I easily relate to the story he shares. Perhaps David’s post will speak to you as well.
This afternoon I taught a Business of Theatre class at Cornish College for the Arts. The students were seniors in the final weeks of their degree programs. Their assignment was to make project pitches as if we, the class, were granters or investors. My job was to support them to get better at doing project pitches. After listening to several pitches, two themes emerged that became the focus of our conversation.
The first theme: rather than pitch their ideas as great, almost all of the students justified or somehow diminished their idea. They defended it prior to an attack. They were unconsciously seeking reinforcement or approval of their idea. Or, to be clear, they sought approval as if I was the keeper of worth for their idea. Had I said, “What a stupid idea,” they might have agreed with me. The need for my approval trumped their personal point of view. My approval was more important to them than their idea.
Theme number two is related to theme number one: they entered the relationship that had been set up between us assuming that the granter (me) had all of the power. As pitch makers, they cast themselves in an unbalanced, powerless position. They came as supplicants. They assumed that the grant maker held the golden key to open the door to their project/dream. In this play (a pitch is a play) they cast themselves as impotent.
Both themes were unconscious. Both were based on assumptions of lack.
Every artist, if they are to thrive, must reorient at some point in the arc of their career. They must leave behind orienting according to what they might get from the world and reorient according to what they bring to the world.
Grant makers, foundations, investors and auditors have no power over an artist – unless, of course, the artist is oriented in the relationship according to what they might get from the relationship. At best, a granter can support a route. They might open a pathway to fulfilling an idea. There are hundreds of routes, yet there is one dreamer. The responsibility for manifesting the dream is the dreamer’s not the granter’s.
No one need apologize for his or her dream. No one need justify why it is important. It is a dream. It is an idea. It is a desire. No one else need approve; the approval belongs to the dreamer.
The students and I discussed the power of bringing a dream to the world. We played with the perspective shift that happens when artists own the responsibility for their dreams and refuse to define their role as impotent.
Bring the dream. Stop seeking your worth in the responses of others. Bring it. The granter will fund it or not and that should have no impact on whether the dream is pursued or not. Bring your best game. Bring it everyday. If you have a dream, create it. There are many routes. Explore them all and in each case pitch your best game.
P.S. David co-leads the teleclass version of the Transformational Presence Leadership and Coach Training with me. If you would like to know more about his work or sense that he might be a great coach for you now, visit his website or send him an email. And if you want to explore more fully what your gifts to the world might be, consider the ”Soul Mission” audio learning program, my book Soul Mission * Life Vision, or the “Find Your Right Work” audio learning program.
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