Know Your Net

[Continued from the post Step Onto The Field]
One of the reasons I adore working with Skip in our company, Flipped Start-Up, is that he requires me to look deeper into my assertions. He routinely asks me to explain, expand, question, re-consider, and dive deeper into my thoughts and perceptions. For instance, yesterday he read my post, Step Onto The Field, about actor auditions and entrepreneur pitches. Today he sent a response with 10 questions that made my brow knit and will give me blog fodder for weeks.

For instance, in the post I wrote this:

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.

His questions: What is an honest moment? Is there a difference between an honest moment and an honest action?

I had a few great mentors in the theatre and they taught me that the art of acting was the art of presence. For instance, it is a common misperception that acting is about pretending. It is not. Acting as defined by my masters is the honest pursuit of an intention in imaginary circumstances. An actor that pretends to pursue their intention actually prohibits the audience from participating in the story. It is the actor’s honest pursuit of their intention that opens the story door for the audience. Athletes do not pretend to play the game. They play. They play to win and that is what keeps the fans invested. The game is real. The same is true for actors. The game is real. They know their goal, how to score points, and what they need to do to win. The action is honest.

So my first stab at Skip’s question is this: an honest moment is to be fully present – as an athlete is fully present – within imagined circumstances. It may come as a shock but the world series or the world cup or the super bowl are made-up circumstances, just as is Hamlet’s Denmark. We believe that the made-up circumstance is real when the pursuit on the field is real. Next year there will be another world series winner just as 200 years from now there will be another production of Hamlet.

David Miller takes his student actors to hockey games so they can see honest action in the pursuit of a real goal. Get the puck into the net. The play called “hockey” is about getting the puck into the net more times than the other team (Note: the rules of the game are made up. In the theatre, the rules of the game are called “circumstance.”). David is a brilliant teacher who knows that young actors have been steeped in the language of pretending. Their actions are often dishonest because they are invested in being liked by the audience instead of knowing the power and simplicity of playing to get the puck into the net. The net is not as apparent for actors but no less essential to their action.

Entrepreneurs have the same problem as young actors. They rarely recognize the game and moment-to-moment have no clue where to find their net. Many times they don’t even know how to locate the ice rink. They don’t see that their circumstance is as made-up as any other game. Consequently, they pretend. They play the role of CEO or CTO (made up roles for a start up) and want their audience to like them. Being liked is not the net. They want their audience to think they know what they are doing. Knowing what they are doing is not the net. They pretend to participate in accelerator programming only because that may lead to funding. Their actions are consequently dishonest.

Shifting the circumstance might illuminate the point: I just had dinner with a college student who told me his classes were worthless. He was bored. I asked him why he continued to go to school and he told me that he had to play the game if he wanted a degree because a degree would get him a better job. He thinks the net is a better job and so is dishonest in his action. He thinks the game is “get a degree.” So, he pretends. He thinks his boredom is the fault of the university. It is not. He thinks he is being forced to participate. He is not. College students have been anesthetized to think that a better job is the net. It is not. They think someone else has what they seek and over look the mindset necessary to live a vital life (which is the same mindset required to really learn as opposed to pretend to learn). The net is their mindset. This same concept applies to entrepreneurs. The net is their mindset.

[to be continued….]

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. REALLY clear and helpful, David. I’m going to be thinking about the net for a while. Wonderful analogy!

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