Former professional actor, Michael Port, uses his book, Steal The Show, to compare the similarities between life and acting a role in a drama, and how your role interpretation can help you live your best life.
As the great English writer and poet, William Shakespeare said, “all the world is a stage.” We would like to believe that we control our lives and that our actions have effects on the direction that our life takes.
However, as Shakespeare observed, every day, we take on different personas. Sometimes, we use multiple personas to get through the day. This does not mean that you are less authentic. Rather, it shows our ability to handle different life situations with ease and dexterity.
You are not the only person with a fear of talking in front of a crowd or a board of high flyers. But in moments like this, Michael Port suggests that you visualize the ideal scenario, and you go in there and crush it.
A 2012 study featured on the Psychiatric Annals journal shows that athletes who visualize success perform better than their peers who do not.
Brain scans also show a shift in activity from the logical left hemisphere to the creative right hemisphere.
Harvard University’s Amy Cuddy also found that acting confidently in front of a mirror actually boosts people’s self-esteem and lowers stress levels.
In summary, three major lessons I learned from this book were:
- Everybody is a performer.
- Improvisation is the actor’s greatest tool.
- The importance of unlocking your inner voice
Lesson One: Everybody is a performer
Your favorite movie characters are seasoned performers with years of experience behind them.
They take on different roles and interpret them to award-winning standards.
How is that any different from everyday life, though?
On Monday morning, you show up to work in your buttoned-up shirt, and you take on the role of office Steve. You leave work, and you have to become “Road-Rage Steve.”
By the time you get home, you are a loving father. This does not make you fake or a pretender.
Every situation demands a different version of your personality, and you have to give it your best performance to excel at it.
Does it sound similar to seeing Leonardo Di Caprio in different roles now?
Lesson Two: Improvisation is the actor’s greatest tool
A familiar scene is two people arguing, waiting for the other to keep quiet to chip in their own rehearsed response.
This is a frustrating vicious cycle where nobody wins, and the argument does not get resolved either.
The less you are listening in a conversation, the less likely it is that you will give intelligent responses.
A more productive approach would be to listen with all your senses. Watch for the reaction and cues from your audience, and you can give an appropriate response.
This is one of the first lessons that actors learn. Actors don’t manufacture emotions out of thin air; they react based on the stimuli they receive from their co-stars.
Improvisation is synonymous with adaptability. The CEO of a multimillion, multinational enterprise will have to switch swiftly between roles and interact appropriately with different people with different value systems.
That is the way of successful people.
Lesson Three: Importance of unlocking your inner voice
Playing a role, however, does not mean that you have to be pretentious or insufferable.
This is real life, and your experiences, values, and beliefs form part of who you are.
They also help you become more relatable and authentic to your audience. People like Robin Roberts and Sheryl Sandberg are typical examples of how your inner voice can help you sway the audience into your corner.
My Personal Takeaway
This book is a great eye-opener to how you can excel in the different roles that you might have to play in your life.
The world is a giant drama set, and everybody is acting out their own parts of the script. Whether you receive an ovation or a boo at the end of your performance depends on you and your delivery.
Put into Action
- Listen with all your senses.
- Fake it until you make it.
- Let your inner voice out.
- A good performance is better than a perfect one.
- Develop great listening skills.
- Act as if you belong.
- Learn from the best and practice.
- Improve your speaking by using pauses.
This is a great book for anyone looking to make the most of their life and take a bow to a loud ovation at the end of every show.
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