Put on a show

During her 30-year career teaching high school English, my mom used to say that great teaching was theater. She never felt like just explaining Shakespeare or Chaucer or Twain would make the desired impression on the classroom full of teens. If you wanted to get and keep their attention, you needed to put on a show.

It turns out we all have opportunities to turn our performance up by putting on a show of our best selves.

You’re selling raffle tickets to a fundraiser. You can sit behind the desk and wait for willing raffle enthusiasts to arrive. Or you can stand up and spend the next 20 minutes trying 40 different pitches to entice those passing by. Guess which way will teach you something about sales and inevitably lead to selling more tickets?

Your teen tells you they’re tired of taking piano lessons. You can defend the lessons’ value and cite how much money you’ve already invested in piano perfection. Or you can put on a show and use the conversation as an opportunity to really listen to what your student is thinking and feeling. The show opens up the door for more understanding and maybe even to your student asking you for advice in the future.

You’re headed to a faculty meeting during the busiest time of the year, with papers and to-do’s and a million other things you could get done during this time. But if you’re going to be in the room anyway, what’s the best show you could put on to make the time better for you and for everyone else?

Putting on a show isn’t about being disingenuous. It’s recognizing that this moment, this interaction, this question or meeting or insight–it matters. It can move things forward. But not without someone acknowledging and capitalizing on the opportunity.

When you do this enough to make it a habit, it won’t take long before you’re known for always making things better whenever involved. And that’s never a bad reputation to have when you’re looking to stand out.

Make it count. It’s showtime.