What do I mean “Own the Stage”

How do you own a stage if you don't even feel in control of yourself? Do you feel like you are in charge when you are in front of an audience, or do you feel like you are at the mercy of others and fate?

In this episode I talk about having choices....

Podcast 29 Title

The Courageous Performer Podcast

What do I mean "Own the Stage"?

If you would like to learn how to let go and perform brilliantly, so that you can feel confident (even without being able to guarantee the outcome!) then go to nailyourperformance.com to find out how to work with me.

Read the episode transcript here:


Hi, I'm Hattie Voelcker from Find Your True Voice, and agency is a funny word. A lot of us know what we mean by it, but I was talking with my group, the Courageous Club, last night, and somebody said, 'What does agency mean?' And how does it relate to what I often talk about, which is being able to go out and own the stage?



And the question I'd ask you is, how much do you feel like you are driving the bus when you're performing? How much do you feel like you are owning your own choices, and that you even have choices when you're performing? Because I think a lot of fear comes out of this idea that we don't have choices, and the idea that we are a victim. You are a victim of your circumstances. So you're a victim of the bad acoustic, or you're a victim of the audience, or you're a victim of the fact that this is last minute.



And so this is where agency comes in, because agency is about feeling like you can make choices, feeling like you're driving your bus. So let me explain the driving your bus analogy, because I use it a lot when I'm working with supervising and mentoring coaches because it's really important for someone to feel like they are driving their own bus. And one of the things that gets in the way of us having confidence is when we feel like we're either not capable of driving our own bus or we're not being allowed to, where circumstances are stopping us driving the bus. And the reason I use the analogy of driving a bus, is because we are sort of in control, we get to turn the wheel we get to choose, we get to make decisions and decisions and choices. But we're not really controlling the bus, we are probably in control of the bus, but we're driving it. We're deciding the direction, we're deciding whether to go left or right, whether to put on the brakes, whether to speed up or slow down. And we are the boss in that.



But so many times on stage, we can feel like we're not the boss, we can feel like there are rules we have to follow. There are things that we have to do, and there are things that we are we define that we're not good at doing, and therefore we don't feel like we're able to make those choices. And this can lead to all sorts of things like procrastination, because procrastination often is not comes out of this sense of feeling vulnerable and vulnerable about what we're going to do about how we're going to be judged, so we often put it off and we feel like, we don't want to choose to do it, or we have no choice.



And that's that's the irony, it's always when we feel like we have no choice, we actually put things off and the more pressure we put on ourselves, the less likely it is we are to do it. But the truth is, we always do have a choice. We might not like the choices we have. But we always have the choice.



Not having agency can lead us to take responsibility for other people's emotions and believe that we are responsible for how the audience feels and we can make the audience feel one way or the other. We can make someone feel one way or the other. It can lead to us apologising for ourselves, and it can lead to perfectionism, it can lead to this feeling that there is a right and a wrong way to do it - and we're afraid of doing it the wrong way - and we have to do it the right way. And when we have that sense of having to do it, we lose that agency will lose that ability to make choices.



Now you may have noticed, when you're doing what you do, whether it's speaking, singing, dancing, whatever your performances, there may be scenarios in which you find it really easy to do. And you feel like you do have choices. And then in the scenarios where you find it harder to do that maybe where you don't feel like you have choices, you feel like you have to do this, you have to do that. You have to sing it accurately. You have to make sure that you cover everything exactly the right way. You have to do these things and that removes our choices or that's what we feel it does.



So get back to this idea that you always have choices. You are always driving your own bus, and that, to get back to that space often means understanding your vulnerabilities. Understanding why it is that you're making it feel like you don't have a choice. Why it is you're telling yourself you don't have a choice. Why it is that you feel there are rules or obligations around this. And now some of you may be shouting at this podcast going, but there are rules, there are things you have to do. And for those of you that know me, you know, this is a hill on which I am prepared to die. Because there might be rules, it doesn't mean you have to stick to them. We make choices as to whether we stick to them, and in accordance with the repercussions for not sticking with them. What will happen if you don't stick with the rule, what happens if you do stick to the rule, we have a choice, even when there were rules, even when there are standard ways of doing things. You don't have to do it that way.



I probably said on this podcast before, you know the Fosbury flop would never have been invented if people had carried on doing the standard way of doing a high jump and the heights that are now jumped over would not be being jumped over because they would have still been jumping it like a hurdle. Now they turn and jump over it backwards, because Mr. Fosby decided that that may have been one way of doing it, but he was going to choose to do it another way.



And what you'll find is, the more you feel that you don't have a choice, the more fear will bubble up, the more pressure you will fall under and the more tension will come about. So to really step back from that sense of obligation, from that sense that you don't have choice. It's important to understand what you're feeling vulnerable about what's going on in your head and unpicking that. Because then you get to a space where you can see the choices and you can start to make them.



So what I'd love for you to take away from this podcast is the idea that you have choices, you may not yet be in a headspace where you feel you can choose anything different from what you're currently choosing. That's the next step. But for the moment, if you can start to acknowledge that you have choices, even if you don't like the repercussions of one particular choice, then it will start to free you up to be able to think about performing in a different way. Thank you very much for listening. I'm Hattie Voelcker from Find Your True Voice.