It’s wonderful when we can learn powerful lessons from movies. The experience can be so visceral that the impact can be tremendous. That said, there are two wonderful documentaries out there that I highly recommend you rent.
“What? What is this? I’m reading this to be a better coach. Not to build my DVD collection.”
Bear with me. The first one is “Children Will Listen” where 100 students from Inner City schools all converged to perform a production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” The other film is “Yellow Brick Road,” which follows a production of “The Wizard of Oz” with a cast of players with disabilities, both physical and mental. For anyone to attempt either of these performances must be up for a challenge. “Into the Woods” is a very difficult production for even the highly trained actor. The music is complex, the undertones are multi-layered, the subtext, the emotions, the themes, the lessons, all of that can keep the most skilled performer super packed at the brink of overwhelm in a three-month rehearsal period as they struggle to get it “right.” While “Oz” is so well known that any production will invariably be compared with the legendary movie. And how can anyone match that? But these concerns are not part of the cast’s experience in these documentaries. They aren’t concerned with doing it as good as some another “professional” version, they’re not comparing themselves to other actors, but they are genuinely grateful for the opportunity they have and they are determined to give it their all. What is revealed is not their majestic skill, but their courage, their innocence, their passion, and their humanity. It’s their commitment to simply be authentic that is the magic. They can only be exactly who they are, and when they reveal that to the audience, it’s spellbinding. Regardless of how hard they have worked (and they sure do work hard), lines can be dropped, sets can fall apart, cues missed, and any other sort of “mistake” occurs, and it’s all overlooked. Because the power of authenticity is amazing, and it always beats “doing it right” every time.
“Great. Far out. I’ll go rent them and have a film festival. In the meantime, how does this help me with my coaching?”
If you haven’t figured it out yet, just like these performances, the secret to powerful coaching is just what is revealed in these films—the willingness to show yourself authentically. Never underestimate its power. It’s fine to have a script, someone else’s words (like your training), but it’s even more important that you get to shine through those words.
How to do it is a while ‘nother thing. And for some of us, that stretch out of the comfort zone can be really uncomfortable. It may feel naked, risky, dangerous, vulnerable. But, like these performers, all you need is a little direction, a little script to follow, and a little feedback. The rest comes with just a little practice.
Before you know it, it’s Showtime, and you’re the star.