A Resilient Performer

Being tested

Many performers, particularly in the arts just now are being tested. Patience, commitment, motivation and optimism are just some of the mental skills being challenged. This challenge can be used to develop these skills too, creating a resilient performer.


‘The persistence of systems, and their ability to absorb change and disturbance…’ C.S Holling (Emeritus Professor-University of Florida.)

Resilience is so nuanced. Being a resilient performer means we need the persistence and endurance to keep moving forward, while simultaneously absorbing change and developing. Absorbing change means letting change move and effect you rather than resisting or blocking it.

Absorbing change

When we absorb change and disturbance two things can then happen: We can temporarily adapt what we do, how we act, and our effort (all controllable by us), which enables us to weather the storm as performers. We can actively do this by connecting back, or re-evaluating what is important to us, writing it down and taking action. This adaption can eventually provide a sense of balance, or equilibrium so we can return to a very similar way of being when opportunities return.

Or, we can absorb change in a different way. If our current way of being is untenable, too painful emotionally or physically, or too costly, then transformational and lasting change can take place. This allows us to move and change into a new way of being and working.

Both types of adaption increase our capacity to manage challenges and change in the future.

How are you currently absorbing the change in your life? Adaption or transformational change?

A Helpful Metaphor From Nature-Stress wood

In the 1980’s a huge amount of research was conducted to create the Biosphere 2 in Arizona. Biosphere 2 was a science experiment to work out what was required for humans to live and be self-sufficient out with the earth. The project involved a group of individuals living inside Biosphere 2 with no outside intervention for 2 years. Inside they mimicked a real-life environment to encourage plants and trees to grow. They had the correct PH of the soil, enough water, nutrients, and sunlight.

The trees, in particular, grew very fast, and then would get to a certain height and fall over. What they had missed from their calculations was the importance of wind. Without wind the trees and plants had nothing pushing against them, resisting them, or creating friction. The tress would develop very quickly but then fall over because, without wind, the trees hadn’t produced stress wood. Stress wood (sometimes called reaction wood) forms around the roots and branches of trees, providing strength, and it’s what enables trees to withstand natural pressures like gravity and storms. But, it grows in reaction to wind. Trees actively need that movement and disturbance to develop and function optimally.

I found this concept fascinating and comforting with the situation many of us find ourselves in just now. Clearly our present situation is far from ideal, but the concept of Stress Wood can be used to remember we need disturbance, and pushing, as without it we can’t grow our capacity to manage challenges and adapt as performers. This concept can be empowering.

If you feel you could benefit from being coached through adapting or shifting with change, large or small, please get in touch for a free initial session, lee@mentalnoteperformance.com

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