Have you ever been in a room and thought to yourself, "how in the hell did I manage to get myself here?". Or have you ever done something so far out of your comfort zone that you couldn't even fathom doing correctly in your head? When everyone around you kept saying you are the best person to do the job and they thought you were more than capable of doing the job, and you were just there like... well damn, I don't think I can do this man. Or worse, have you ever walk into a room with almost zero confidence and, as a result, just felt the need to apologies for everything you did. Then you felt like you have to justify yourself before you even start doing anything. Well, a couple of weeks ago, I went through all of these things and learned so much from this.
Hello beautiful, welcome.
So, I have a massive life update and a confession/realization. A couple of weeks ago, your girl was the Stage Manager of one of the biggest cultural shows the international community at my school offers and CHILD . . . it was a challenge and a half. I mean, the biggest one being that I had never been a stage manager before this point, and boy was I scared to do it. The experience actually taught me a lot about leadership and business, so I have learned a couple of things from experience.
1. Failure's mindset
The first day of dress rehearsals was the absolute worst. I mean, before I got there, I had already told myself I was going to suck at everything. Now I pride myself on being this very confident and risk-taking individual in general. But what I realized is that this very BOSSY BISH persona I have is easy when it's my fate in my hands. In this situation, though, if I messed up, not only did I have to deal with the fact that I had let down the act but also all the other people who had put in work behind the scenes. Now put all this pressure and then the fear of fucking up at this thing into one sandwich, and what you had was a mess. I went in expecting to fail, and I did (not flat on my face, but it was pretty bad). I was so nervous I kept missing cues and kept forgetting to put people on standby, and on that first day, we left the hall at 11 pm.
I mean, I was so bad I heard the crew talk about how annoying it is when people who can't do a job take up a role they can't do. People think they can do something, but they have no clue what to do when they get the role in actuality. A lot was actually said, and I was so angry that I reconsidered giving up and just going home, but something stopped me. Speaking about it now, I know why they would have felt that way; I couldn't even get a basic instruction without giving an apology. I failed that day because I had failed before I had even started the job.
2. Be true to who you are.
So I got home the following day, and after giving myself a pep talk, I decided I wasn't going to give up. I would do my best, and if that meant that I was failing, I was going to fail most extravagantly ever. So Day 2, I came back to the dress rehearsals with my "don't mess with me" lipstick and some killer shoes. Having decided that I was going to do things my way and if someone had a problem with it, we were going to have to throw down. Okay, maybe not that serious, but I was ready to stand my ground, onward and upward.
I had my schedule printed, allocated roles to people, delegated some of the responsibilities I had but wouldn't be able to do and put my work face on. The criticism from the day before was that I wasn't Bitchy enough, but since that's not really my forte, I channelled my African Mum. Except for a few minor hiccups, we killed it both on the remaining rehearsal days and the show. And if you know me, you know we definitely had a blast (including an impromptu open mic session before the show and a little karaoke battle).
3. Just take the L
You know those few minor setbacks I mentioned before, well they were not as minor as I am putting them. Without saying much, let's say they had the potential to be massive setbacks, but in those moments, I learnt that sometimes as a leader, you have to take an L for the team, which can come in many faces. Sometimes, it's patience to agree to disagree on a lighting cue even when you know that something else would work better for the person. Sometimes it's apologizing for something that has nothing to do with you, but for the sake of peace, you do it or for someone you yourself don't like. It could even come as making an executive decision that people disagree with now, but you know it is the best one. Also, occasionally having to calm people down in an argument you have no idea about.
Just take that temporary LOSS and make sure the show goes on. Being the bigger person will always pay more than spending time pushing blame on someone else. Trust me on this one.
4. Appreciation is fire that melts even the coldest hearts
When a show is happening, tension rises and a lot of people crack under that pressure, but one thing my parents have taught me through the way they run their business is that all people want is "to feel like they are heard" and "appreciated." If you don't take anything else but this from this post, I will be good. Employees can get paid more and still leave the company, but if they feel like they are heard (have a relationship with you and the business) and appreciated, those people will be so loyal to you. The employees will go the extra mile because it's not just a job anymore. It's something that is theirs to own (sense of ownership and pride when you succeed).
So, for example, acknowledging when people do an amazing job, going out of your way to check on people and making sure they are okay. Ensuring I thanked the crew individually and making sure they felt and knew how important their role was. Doing debriefs with the committee and having open conversations on what we could all do better. Hyping up the performers both backstage and in the audience. Most importantly, when I corrected people, it wasn't a judgement of character, but rather it was out of love.
In conclusion... A wise person once said about leaders,
“Leaders instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals.”
This, for me, means that as a leader, my job is to empower the people I lead and ensure that they achieve the things they didn't even know were possible for them to do. But also ensure that I too lead by example and take that leap of faith.
Thank you so much for reading this weak post. I hope you learn something about leadership and mindset.
PS: The show was a success, and I couldn't have done it without my amazing crew, the spectacular performers and the people who suggested I take up the role in the first place. Big ups to you all.