If you ask a group of performing arts students to make a circle and pass a ball all the way round you’d see a number of them drop it. Some people’s hand-eye coordination isn’t great, and some people miss the timing. Mainly though I’ve found that it’s a lot to do with the person who is throwing the ball. They don’t always seem to be on the same wavelength as the person catching.
What’s the point of all this you may be thinking? Well, I think it’s an indicator of whether we want to win or to help. Competition is bred into some of us at an early age. I must succeed, I must come first – so that we don’t take enough account of others even on a simple level and we have to learn to give.
I often describe two forces in the world – some people call them givers and takers, but I prefer calling it a battle between generosity of spirit and meanness of mind. We can all be mean – we can fail to notice that driver patiently waiting to join our traffic queue and we’ve all seen the motorway driver who overtakes and undertakes everyone to be first. But we can be generous as well – in fact I think most people are.
It’s generally accepted that if you give, you get back and that’s certainly true of the performing arts. If you are performing then you are part of a team. People constantly trying to be top dog soon learn that it’s not all about them. So, it pays to listen, to notice others, to be positive to them. Onstage it notices if you are self-centred. Offstage who wants to share a dressing room with a bighead? A friend of mine said they learnt this lesson when they worked at an actors’ agency. You answered the phone on behalf of other people and had to put them forward for roles that you might have liked for yourself. But when you take genuine pleasure in their success you find the karma often comes back. You get remembered for being caring and supportive and genuine. The best performers are usually humble people. It’s the less talented who are always telling you how good they are.
Over many years I’ve realised that many people get work not by being the most talented person in the universe but because they were fun to work with, never moaned and got on with the job and they were happy for you when you achieved something.
We can all learn to catch and to throw and if you have a good time doing that who knows what it leads to?