Badgers and Eagles: Using the Creative Moment

HMG Logo 01As A Creative, especially A Creative in leadership, how do you approach the development process of your project.  How do you rehearse your team, musicians, cast, and other artists to ensure the best possible performance? It comes down to one basic question:

Are you a Badger, or an Eagle?

It comes down to two things: perspective and motivation.

Badgers live in holes.  They identify the threat outside their den.  Badgers respond quickly and decisively. Threat averted. Sometimes, there is blood on the ground.

A badger perspective is limited to the threat.  The motivation is to eliminate the problem.

Eagles live in the sky with an aerial view of the landscape below.  Their goal is a tasty morsel. And from a mile up, they have a clear view of what lies below. Trees, landscape, other animals, even rocks in the water.  They circle, planning their best route.  Eventually they swoop in on their goal.  Dinner is served.

(Aside: Eagles have the visual acuity to be able to count the dots on a ladybug from a mile up! – drop that fact at your next cocktail party!)

An Eagle’s perspective is broad.  The motivation is to navigate the landscape in the most efficient manner possible to achieve their objective.

Badgers easily identify the problem at hand, but their solution often relies on intimidation and brute force.

Eagles, on the other hand, bring a larger perspective to the problem.  They analyze the landscape, circumvent obstacles, and soar toward their goal.

So hear is the same question in a different form:

Are you a Problem Identifier? or a Problem Solver?

I see this all the time as I observe rehearsals.

Some leaders focus on identifying problems.  You’re flat.  It’s out of tune. The lights aren’t up. The curtain should be open. You missed your entrance. That prop is in the wrong place.  The microphone isn’t on. You’re not standing in the right place.

Notice that these are all statements. Badgers use statements to identify a threat outside the den. Unfortunately, statements generally stagnate creativity.

More effective leadership will turn the focus to creative solutions by asking questions.  Do my gestures cue the singers to support the sound? Is there confusion regarding the notes they are singing? Does the lighting team have the cue written correctly in their script? What didn’t I see that caused the curtain to open late? What backstage traffic snafu caused that late entrance? What caused the prop to be in the wrong place?

This is a true statement:  I have NEVER had a cast member who intentionally wanted to do things wrongly.  Never.  Hasn’t happened.

But like the eagle, as A Creative and The Director, I have the unique tools of perspective, training, and a laser vision.  One of my rehearsal disciplines is to lead with questions that evoke solutions.

Many of the questions are not heard except in my head. “I don’t like that sound.  What instruction can I give that will solve the singer’s technical problem and improve the sound.“

When I question the cast, chorus, or orchestra, I’m always fishing for answers that will lead to problems. There is no blame, only information. “Well that was interesting.  What do we need smooth out that transition?” Notice, I didn’t ask what caused the problem. That just invites blaming statements.

If you really want to kick your next project up to the next level, video tape your next rehearsal. On a piece of paper make two columns, “Identifing” and “Solving.”   Then grab a cup of your favorite beverage and make a game of it.  Analyze each statement you make ad put a tic in one of the two columns.  I guarantee the results will be enlightening.

So what is my goal as a director and conductor of the Creatives I work with?

To help performers rise above their obstacles,
freeing them to perform at their highest level.

That, my friends, is the wind beneath my wings.

Today, give yourself permission to soar!

David