Step Onto The Field

The first few decades of my career were rooted in the theatre. In casting plays and assembling companies I’ve held and seen hundreds of auditions. Generally, it was my experience as an auditor (and also in managing auditions for others) that in the first round of auditions an auditor can see everything they need to know about an actor in seven seconds or less. Whether the audition is a prepared piece, a cold reading or some form of improvisation, this “seven second” rule seems to hold. For the auditor, the rest of the audition is usually an act of courtesy or spent hoping that they are wrong about what they already know. Auditors want actors to succeed. They want to be engaged, surprised, and swept into an honest moment. They want to meet the actor on the field of possibility. They want access into the story and the door is always honest action.

What can an auditor see in seven seconds or less that inspires them to call the actor back or put their file in the “no” pile? Probably a more accurate question is, “What can the auditor feel that inspires them to call back the actor?” The honest pursuit of an intention is something that can be felt before it can be seen. This is true on or off the stage, isn’t it? Do you feel it when someone is not authentic? Do you “know it” when you are being told a half-truth? How many times have you said, “I knew it but didn’t listen to myself.” Auditioning others is as an act of listening to what you sense in the first few seconds and the scanner is seeking honesty.

In the past few years I’ve been watching entrepreneurs do pitches for investors. Auditions and pitches are surprisingly similar activities! In both cases, the “seven second” rule applies. Investors know, like auditors know, when they are seeing something honest or something manufactured. An exciting viable idea in the hands of a pretender is a useless thing – just as brilliant plays are routinely slaughtered in the hands of fakers. Entrepreneurs, like actors, are more likely to meet success when they cease giving away their power and show up as they are. Showing up is not passive and has nothing to do with information delivery. Showing up means to share the quest, to bring others along on the pursuit of a dream. Showing up is being present with others. It is inclusive (as opposed to protected).

Rule #1 for entrepreneurs is the same as it is for actors: You can’t determine what others (investors/auditors) see or think or feel or value. You can only bring your best game to the field of possibility and love playing it.

For a humorous look at the wonderful world of innovation and new ventures, check out my new comic strip Fl!p and the gang at Fl!p Comics.

One Response

  1. Best explanation of auditions I’ve heard ever, David! I’ll be thinking of “bringing my best game” in every situation from now on.

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