Saturday, November 12, 2011

Week 3 Reading Reflection

The reading this week, once again, was a big reinforcement for me on some quality issues. As a teacher, I love the idea of students teaching other students, as was explained during the anecdote about the student symphony orchestra that visited Cuba. It’s not only “teachers” who can teach, and sometimes the message gets lost when the connection is not there. Lessons can be more valuable from peers who are viewed to be in the same situation.

I must say, though ,that Rule #6 – Don’t take yourself so goddamn seriously, is so simple it’s brilliant. On a daily basis, I need to remind myself of this. I need to hang this sign on my front door, my office door, and my classroom door. There’s so many ways to go with this, but I’ll use my personal life. I have two sons, and 8 year old and a 5 year old. After dealing with the stresses of work all day, I come home to my family, and forget that it’s not always about the structure of a daily routine, that sometimes we just need to laugh and have fun. After the homework is done, the dinner is over, and dishes are cleaned, there is little time left to have fun. Some of the most amazing nights are when we, as a family, just say “forget it”, and figure out how to let go and have fun. Eat a simple meal, leave the dishes go, and have some fun.

In the seventh chapter entitled “The Way”, the authors tell us to “Include mistakes in our definition of performance.” As a lighting designer for live productions, I can only think back on a few memorable productions over my years that have been A+. In my mind, for a production to be flawless, it has to include everyone and everything- The artist performance, the sound, lights, even the audience enthusiasm plays a role. Many times I’ve finished a show, and out of the thousands of lighting cues that I triggered that night, I walk away thinking “I was late on cue 5 in the verse of the third song”. It amazes me that one bad cue can ruin my night, and the view of the production that night in my mind, but it does. While I strive for perfection on a nightly basis, I must also realize that one missed cue did not destroy the show for the thousands of people in attendance that night. It’s tough, because we want to be perfect, but it is such an unattainable goal, that we must not make that the only criteria for success.


"House Lights...Go"


  1. Shawn I totally understand that feeling of wanting to get it perfect. It can be very challenging to be able to let go of that ideal. The funny thing is that I'm sure the audience didn't even notice. Being part of the performing arts I remember countless times of trying to get something right over and over again and it was only in that moment of throwing caution to the wind, of being able to transcend the mind and we allow ourselves to get lost in the feeling does that magic happen. That's a lot easier said than done though ;p

  2. Shawn, I know what you are talking about in regards to getting things perfect, but you have to remember what da Vinci said: "Art is never finished, only abandoned." A live show is much like teaching. We only have one shot to get it right. But, our audience, our students, do not know if we really made a mistake or not, and should not influence the rest of our day or week for one bad "cue" or "note." What I am saying is that we always have tomorrow to make our lesson better and our students will be there wanting to see us try.

  3. Great reflection and summary on the reading. It's that the accepted definition of professional: to perform flawlessly without error every time. The thing is that artistic perfection goes way beyond flawlessness and that one cannot be distracted with the pursuit of a perfect performance if one wants to experience the deeper meaning. At least, that's what I've heard. I tend to just be thankful to make it through a session without a giant performance derailing error. I should probably raise my expectations a tad.