The Three Phases of a Performance

Let’s say we have a performance coming up.

And let’s think of performance in an ample sense: office presentation, standup gig, job interview, teaching a workshop, giving a talk, playing a big game, acting in a show.

The process of a performance has two clear elements and one less clear, but no less essential element. Let’s use a flight as our metaphor.

First, the runway. This is our prep work. Information gathering, writing, developing, rehearsing.

Second, the flight. This is the performance itself. We give it every ounce of energy and oomph we have. This is the part that tends to hog the limelight. We get the most feedback from it.

Third, the taxiing. This is the recovery from the performance. It’s the element that often falls off the map. The show is done, the curtain has dropped. Now, we need to let the engines cool, slow our pace down, toodle on the tarmac for a bit. Absent this, whatever we do next will likely be done with flatter energy.

For me, this is the hardest part of the performance process to tend to.

I can trick myself into thinking I’ll bop to the next project before my energy is replenished. Invariably, I end up sludge-ing through the next day. Which is a form of feedback, isn’t it? It’s just not from our performance audience; it’s from our performing body. It’s telling us, in low energy and muggy thinking, that it needs our care.

So, if I take recovery seriously…

If I lull and laze around,

If I listen to fluff podcasts, do Monday crosswords, read fiction that has no bearing on my work,

If I give myself permission to recover

…I’ll bounce through the next day.

Productivity is not only accomplishing. Productivity is also doing what our minds and bodies need to be able to accomplish. Recovery is nothing if not that.

So we prep. We perform. And then, hard as it may be, we allow our engines to cool before we take off again.

The Lightning Notes is funded by kind donors. If something here strikes you, I'd be grateful if you'd consider donating. Click to Donate!