Using Choice as a Performer

Performers often think that the way to feel ok performing and to get rid of their nerves is to take control. To control every aspect of their performance but this not only isn't possible, it's also not helpful and actually the attempt to get control makes the nerves worse. Instead you can use choice. In this episode I explain how you can use the power of choice to improve your performing, and how this empowers you to get better and better, whereas the search for control makes your performances get worse and worse.

Podcast 40 - Using Choice as a Performer

The Courageous Performer Podcast

Using Choice as a Performer

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 to find out how to work with me.

Read the episode transcript here:

[00:00:00] Hi, I'm Hattie Voelcker from Find Your True Voice and today I want to talk to you about choice and control and I then want to talk to you about problems and situations. Now, let me explain. So, first and foremost, choice and control. What the heck has that got to do with performing with more confidence and more freedom?

Well, most of the issues people have with performing stem back to their fear of what other people will think of them. Fear of making mistakes and impacting their career. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of other people judging them and them being found wanting. We fear judgment. And so our natural response, your natural response to that might be right so I'm going to make it so when I put myself out there they will judge me and find me meeting their expectations.

I'm gonna make sure it works and you try and take control of the situation. You [00:01:00] try and control everything. You might try and perfect everything so that you don't have to feel vulnerable when you put yourself out there. But this is rubbish because the reality is you can't control everything. As my son said, you can fail at controlling.

In fact you will fail at controlling because you literally can't control everything. I would argue there's almost nothing you can control but there are things over which you have choices. And for me, choice is a much better way of explaining it. Now, I put this in my latest blog, but I'm going to talk about it here today.

So, some people talk about the circle of control, and outside that is the circle of influence, and then outside that is the circle of things over which we have no control and no influence. And so, you just focus on the area over which you have control, and you look at the area over which you have influence.

I would say, actually, these are different. It's not a circle of [00:02:00] control. It's a circle in which we have choices and that actually makes it a slightly bigger circle because we have choices in the circle of influence as well. So we have more choices than we might realize. And every time I work through this with a client and we talk about choices and we work through what their choices are, they realize that they have more choices.

than they thought. They are less restricted. Now they may not like the choices they have, but once they acknowledge that this is where they're at and this is the choice they do have, then it simplifies matters because it's Oh, I wish I didn't have this choice. Tough. This is the choice you've got. These are the options you've got.

Which of these do you choose? Oh, that simplifies it. I no longer have to worry because I know where I'm at. And if we bring this back to performing . You can't guarantee you won't forget your words. You can't guarantee it, but you can influence it. You can influence it really quite heavily.

Not only in the effort [00:03:00] you put in to learn your words, but also in the manner in which you learn your words. Learning them by meaning will make it much more likely that you will remember them than learning them by rote. Putting effort into learning them will make it more likely that you will remember it, but you can't guarantee it.

So you can choose to learn them, put effort into learning and to learn them a certain way, which will influence whether you will remember them. You can't control it. And when you let go of the idea that you can control whether you remember your words, then you take out the worry and you're left with the simple choice.

Do you want to spend time today learning your speech, learning your song, learning your words? And if it's not every word you're learning, learning, the flow of your speech. Do you want to spend time doing that today? Would that help you? And often you'll find that when you take the control out and you take the absolute, I have to learn all my words.

It becomes easier to take steps to learn your words because it's not, you, you [00:04:00] acknowledge that you can heavily influence this rather than putting your pressure on, I've got to get to this standard. And so, when you start to see it that way, it starts to make you feel more empowered as to the choices you've got and, which choices you actually want to make.

Put it another way, and I said I was going to talk about problems and situations. I was talking with somebody the other night and they were talking about how many problems they have. And it's interesting because a problem is what we define to be a problem to us. Actually, in reality, if we strip out the subjective, it's just a situation.

It's a situation, often as not, that makes us feel uncomfortable. So the issue for us is that we feel uncomfortable for some reason, and that could be genuinely so. There's a problem that someone's upset, and we don't want them to be upset because we don't want to see them hurt, and it makes us feel uncomfortable.

So sometimes we avoid solving a [00:05:00] problem because it, it feels uncomfortable. Sometimes we worry about doing the right thing and then we make a choice not to solve the problem right now because we feel uncomfortable. If instead we say this is a situation, in this situation, I'm feeling uncomfortable. How do I change the situation so that it feels more comfortable?

And that isn't, it sounds fairly self centered, but it actually isn't because often that makes us go, Right, the solution is to reach out and contact this person. The person I was talking to was talking about somebody who'd been taken into their company and they hadn't been taken in, in a very effective manner.

And that made them worry about their experience of the company, the person who was worried. And as they talked about it, it became obvious that the solution was to contact this person. To explain what was going on and apologize and say, I feel like you probably have had a bad experience. And how that would make both of them feel [00:06:00] better.

And by focusing on the solution, by saying this is a situation, how do I improve it, rather than saying, oh, it's a problem, it switches the energy so you start to solve it. In the same way, let's go back to the words. I have a problem. I can't remember the words of my song. Actually, this is a situation at the moment.

And this is the other thing about situation. It makes it temporary because just currently. I'm not in a position where I can remember my words. And you see how, out of that, instantly comes, well, how do I make that better? How do I find a solution to that situation or change that situation? A solution to what is going on to make it, to take it from here to there.

When you define it as a problem, it feels, for me, more stuck. And more heavy. Whereas if you just go, this is the situation, am I good to go with this situation? We come back to the concept of choice. So you can choose to do nothing. [00:07:00] And sometimes by defining it as a problem, we get stuck in doing nothing as opposed to making an active choice to do nothing.

If we say, if this is a situation, do I want to stay with it as it is? Yes or no? First choice. If it's no. What do I want to be different about this? How can I make this different? And then it starts helping you find solutions to the situation to make this, take the solution from one place to another. And you start becoming solution focused as opposed to problem focused, which means as you prepare for a performance, you're looking to create a situation, not a perfection, not of control, but To maximize the impact you have on the situation, to move it from one place to another, to move it from a place where you don't know your words to a place where you do know your words.

And saying, I have choices, I can sit today and I can do nothing. It is a valid choice. [00:08:00] It may not be the choice I want because when I look at what I might achieve by doing nothing, that's not where I want to go. So you go, right, do I choose to do nothing today? No. Heck no! I'm going to choose to do something.

Right, what do I want to choose? And, for me, this releases you into taking steps to improve your performance, to put in more work beforehand, but it also extends to when you're on stage. You have choices. You can choose to engage with the audience or you can choose to be in your own world and not look at them.

Valid choices. One will be more effective for creating a good dynamic and engaging people, and one is less effective. Which do you choose? You can choose either. And when you start to talk in terms of choice, you start to access a more adult version of you. which empowers you, and the more empowered you feel, the stronger you feel, and the more these choices seem available and open to you to make.

So if you feel empowered, you're more likely to [00:09:00] engage with the audience. If you feel empowered, you're more likely to put effort into working on your words and finding a really good mechanism to learn them. So Talking about choice and looking at things as situations, not problems, can really empower you to do the work that it takes to really become the sort of performer you would love to become.

So, that's what I would love you to take away from today. The idea that you always have choice. You almost can never control things but you absolutely always have choice and you can't not make a choice because by not making a choice you're making a choice not to make a choice. So we can't avoid choice, and by flipping your perspective to move from things being a problem to actually them being a situation and you then saying, it's a situation in which I'm uncomfortable, how do I solve that discomfort?

How do I make it a situation which feels good for me and others? I'm Hattie Voelcker from Find Your True [00:10:00] Voice. Thank you so much for listening.