Most of the participants who go through my “CorporateTheatre” workshops have never done theatre before. Many have never even watched a play! Even so, within the course of a few minutes they find within themselves the acting, directing, set-designing, costume designing, make-up, and the property management skills required to do a theatre production that goes beyond their own expectations and actually wows an audience. There have been some productions where I, in spite of over 4 decades of theatre experience, am completely amazed and moved to the point of tears! I remember an instance where one group did a production based on a Zen story, and for nearly 15 minutes a young lady held up a steel vessel picked up from the buffet counter outside, and with a spoon, beat a slow soft rhythmic chime without once missing a beat. It created a stunning ambience for the story to unfold as the audience watched the play in rapt attention. I can imagine how her arm must have ached holding up the vessel for that long.
At the end of the workshops, among all the learning regarding leadership and team dynamics that is shared and processed, a comment usually heard is,
“I realised I was capable of doing things which I have never done before and which I never thought I could do.”
The insight that is reinforced is that, rather than the learning, it is more about unlearning the baggage and the beliefs that we carry in our ‘personality cages’. The more we unlearn the more we discover.
Very often we find people who have been subjected to personality profiling instruments that give them labels like ‘leader’, ‘follower’, ‘introvert’, ‘extrovert’ unconsciously influenced and inhibited by these labels. This is dangerous and counterproductive. Just as I discover that while I could not ‘act’ yesterday, but can ‘act’ today, given the freedom I can discover that while I may have felt introverted yesterday I can feel extroverted today. While I may choose introverted behaviour in this group or in this environment, I have the freedom to choose extroverted behaviour in another group or environment. On this particular part of the journey where the terrain is unfamiliar, I prefer to follow, on another part of the journey I can choose to lead.
As is wisely said in Zen, “one does not step in the same river twice”. Similarly, we need not be confined to the same personality pattern all the time. We are processes that are, physically, mentally, emotionally, constantly changing, evolving, and given the freedom, adapting and responding to constantly changing stimuli. As products we see and react in the same way to the same river. As processes we see and enjoy the change of flow, the variations in the gurgle, the new objects floating by, the changing reflection of the sky in the water.
Life, work, and relationships need no longer be monotonous but a continuing adventure of experiencing and discovery.