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Illuminations Aren’t Easy

You there! Yes…You. Yes, I’m talking to you…What motivates you? No, I don’t mean just in your career. Although that is important, your career is not who you are, it’s what you do. I mean, what motivates you? What makes you do what you do in every moment of every day?

This question has always fascinated me because it is at the heart of the work that I do every day. Whether I am working with artists and actors who are attempting to unlock the door to their creative selves, or with my corporate clients who are trying to find a balance between being authentic and professional, every one of us has to deal with our own inhibitions, our own desire to be “right” (and how that limits all connections and engagement – to ourselves and the world around us), our desire to be on top, to win, to conquer, to gain approval, to beat so and so at something, to feel like we’re better than [insert issue or person’s name here]…whatever…Some of you are probably aware of the term for this self-induced torture: “Ego.”

In my work as a coach and director, I have worked with literally thousands of people, all of whom share one common obstacle to their personal success (or whatever it is they are trying to achieve): themselves. Or, rather, their egos. As a species we are incredibly hindered by our own fears, what we perceive to be “real concerns,” and by our feelings of separation and distance. Indeed, the ego is designed in such a way that we believe that we ARE separate to individuals, our jobs, one another. It is this feeling of separation that creates such dissonance inside of us.

In fact, I had breakfast with an ex student who is about to enter her second year at LAMDA (The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts) and we spoke at length about how this anxiety to be right, to be approved of, to somehow be “better than” creates such turmoil and limits us from finding that space within us that makes us feel at one and connected to ourselves and to the world around us. For an actor, this feeling of separation and distance is incredibly toxic to the creative process. It kills all possibility of not only enjoying the work, but from finding that very sacred and delicate balance of being able to tell the truth and remain open and vulnerable.

Only recently I worked with an individual in the corporate environment on a presentation that he is taking to large corporate bodies to help them improve their businesses and their bottom line. Interestingly (I find most things interesting if I’m to be honest), it was in the deciding of the content of his speech and why we were including what we were including that he managed to find his authentic voice and presence in his own speech. He had this to say about his experience:  “I thought I knew something about presentations. After all I have given talks to hundreds of people over the last 12 years. Not so, it was an eye opener to work with Steven. My presentation flows so much better and reaches so much deeper into my audience’s minds. I look forward to wowing them with the best presentation ever.” It is this “reaching deeper into [my] audience’s minds” that I find so fulfilling about this work.

So again, I ask you: what motivates you? Does it fulfill you? Do you feel excited and driven, connected to yourself and to the environment around you? How aware of your own inner driving forces are you? And finally, as I ask all of my students and clients: “What are you focusing on? Is it serving you?”

Yours in the seeking of truth,