On December 29th, 2019 at 5:20pm, with a house full of guests who’d gathered with us to watch the 49ers/Seahawks showdown game, my cellphone rang …
It was Michael – the stage manager for the show I’m currently understudying at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. A show that had just opened the weekend before.
The first words out of the stage manager’s mouth? … “I wish I were making this phone call in a few more weeks.”
You see, I’m understudying Becky in Becky Nurse of Salem. As the lead character, she’s onstage in every scene for the entire two and a half hour play.
And just like that, I grabbed my “go bag,” said goodbye to our guests, and headed to the theatre. I took the stage as Becky for the 7pm show that same night in front of what sure as shit seemed like a sold out crowd!!!
This was potentially THE peak experience of my theatre life.
Cast members marveled at how calm I looked beforehand. They were stunned at just how well it went. When it was over, there was a standing ovation when I stepped forward to bow. I was greeted with “That was incredible,” “You killed it,” and “Beautiful work” from cast members, fellow understudies, the director, as well as the casting director and artistic director of the theatre.
They asked me my secret … how could I possibly pull that off after only one understudy rehearsal (during which we didn’t even finish the play)?
There are a lot of things that contributed to being able to do that – and enjoy the hell out of it – rather than white-knuckling my way through the entire thing. I was asked, again and again, “How on earth did you do that?” Well …
Bruce Lee said, “We do not rise to the occasion, we fall back on our training.”
I believe I fell back on a lifetime of training in order to rise to the occasion.
Theatre training from the age of seven as well as a powerful leadership training program taught me many things – most importantly that my power does not come from control and having my ducks in a row. My power lies in surrendering and creating from whatever is present in the moment. Over the years, I’ve learned more and more deeply in my bones just how true that is.
I also worked responsibly, diligently and creatively to prepare for the role. And my theatre and leadership training helped me surrender deeply into the present moment during the performance.
Just before curtain, I set my necklace, with my leadership penguin charm, the charm with my mother’s ashes, and my “Believe” charm down on my spot in the dressing room. I sourced my leadership tribe, my ancestors, and every bit of magic that wanted to flow through me and channelled what was meant to flow through me that day.
What a way to close out the year … the decade!
I knew I had to share this with you. Yes, I’m celebrating with you. I’m also hoping to inspire you…
Are you ready for the defining moments of your life that are inevitably going to come?
Can you, like Rosa Parks, say “No” when it matters most? Will you be ready to present to the board of directors or give your TED Talk when your name is called?
Do you have enough training, the right training, to fall back on in order to rise to the occasion?
I’ve distilled all of the training that I received down into the parts that leaders need in order to rise to the occasion, and I’m sharing that during the (free!) Stand in Your Power Launchpad beginning January 27th in my Facebook Group.
With passion & love,