Being on Stage and not Losing Your Voice (it’s a metaphor)

Imagine a person who’s in one of those touring Broadway shows. Five days a week, they have to go dance the same dance, sing the same song, and wear the same costumes. They have to do it flawlessly, exactly the same, every time. And they almost always do it. There’s a big lesson to be learned from them, for anyone who has any kind of job.

I’ve said before that, for me, a job is basically a role that I’ve been cast in. My employer needs certain things from me, and some of those things include a certain attitude, a certain way of speaking, a certain way of interacting with others, and so on. And when I’m on-stage (at work), I have to hit my lines every time, exactly the same.

It’s one reason that, when I’m in an office space, I don’t bring personal items with me. I’ll bring “work decor,” maybe, like an industry award or a company-logo coffee mug. But I want my surroundings to remind me that I’m at work, not suggest that I’m at home where I can behave differently. It’s the difference between being on stage, and being in the dressing room.

But being “on,” all day every day, is draining, right? At some point, you’re going to be too tired to keep up the act.

Which is why performers don’t work 7 days a week. It’s why, between shows, they take time off. And you should, too.

Your days off of work, and the vacations you take, are absolutely crucial to your ability to play your role. You need time to go back to being yourself for an extended period of time – a couple of days, at least, and now and then a week or two in a row.

If your weekends are jammed with stuff you hate, and if your vacations are just enough time off so you can go visit the in-laws you don’t like, then you’re not going to get the recharge. This isn’t being selfish, here: if your job is part of what supports your family, then you need – not want, but actually need – your recharge time. Otherwise, it’s going to be harder and harder to slip into that role at work, and eventually, you’re going to fall out of character.

If you’ve not read it, Be the Master has a chapter called “Respect the Yellow Line,” which is part of the Nine Rules for Life™ section of the book. Give it a read (you can get a free copy below, if you don’t already have it).

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