Tuesday, May 24, 2011

GRAB THE REIGNS…or the ring.

Leadership.  My dad sent me a story he wrote today about a famous religious leader.  Last night I watched Harry Potter again.  Lord of the Rings was on earlier.  Then The Matrix.

It got me thinking a lot about this “leadership” thing.  I like team sports.  In college I played on the volleyball team.  On stage I was in the most ensemble of ensemble casts on Broadway. I like being the funny side-kick on stage and I am comfortable being a strong member of a team. 

But I am finding that the whole thing about being a “leader” is that it’s something you have to actually grab hold of and declare.  To step out of the comfortable “strong member of the team” position and forge ahead as the leader of the tribe.

Most of the leaders in the shows I mentioned above were reluctant leaders.  Harry Potter, Frodo, Neo, Jesus, Moses.  At first.  They had to be told by some wise “Merlin” that they were leader material.  And while most of them fought it at first, they finally grabbed hold of the reigns...or the ring… and led. 

Please don’t think I am comparing myself to Moses or Jesus…or Frodo… but I realized that when you declare yourself to be a leader i.e. “theatre ringleader” and start doing things that a leader does, it is very empowering and. …scary.  I find myself wanting to sink back into the teammate mentality a lot and then I realize that something else is pushing me to take on the CEO position. I suppose that is the passion for this project pushing me ahead.  I really believe in what we are doing and I know I can teach this to others.  The teacher/leader thing I do understand.  But even my teaching has been on a small scale compared to this quest.

My senior business partner, my parents, my good friends seem to think I have it in me and it’s funny, when you position yourself as the “leader” and have a passion for what you are doing, people actually do what you say. You can create a “Story” or a script and the universe will follow along with it. If you have a cast in the story that is incorrect you just say “Next” and you write another scene with different characters but with the same passion. And you write it with you as the lead…er. 

I am not talking about a maniacal rule-the-world type of leadership, although I can see how people succumb to that.  Type A, Scorpio, First Child.  I get it.  But I think a leader’s job is to empower others around them to think of themselves as leaders and to enroll them in your quest. That is actually something I have to continually remind myself to do.  I see it in action though with those leaders that I respect.

If it’s all about you and your ideas, it doesn’t have the “buy-in” that is necessary to become lasting, and frankly, it’s too much work being responsible for coming up with every single idea and action.  That is control-freak leadership.  But to be positioned at the head of the quest, guiding and empowering, that seems to be quite effective.  Once I let go of the, “My precious” attitude about my ideas (Lord of the Rings reference) I find that my leadership skills move another step in the right direction.  
Stories sell.  The above-mentioned leaders all told stories.  They also share credit with their “followers” when something goes right.  They take the blame themselves when it doesn’t. Seth Godin says you need to “fail” all the time. There are hundreds of stories of leaders (Alexander Graham Bell, President Lincoln etc) who failed and failed and then REALLY succeeded because they learned what didn’t work and they just kept going! 

I aspire to be that kind of a leader with this new theatre project and to tell the story with my blog, to tell other stories as we produce actual shows and to tell the “story” of the community in which we chose to locate via our website. 

As a leader it is a challenge to do this but I am declaring that we will be making a huge dent in how theatre can be produced and can benefit an entire community in more than just “artsy” ways.

This week:  Looking at two potential spaces in Stamford with Deb and Andy.
 Meeting with the mayor finally in another week.  Leader to leader.  One on one.  Wizard to Wizard.

Seizing the Ring. 

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