Updated: May 11, 2020

Chaos: Evansville, Indiana 1987

Have you ever felt hopeless? I mean absolute despair. The feeling of hopelessness makes you numb. When your set point is despair, there is nothing outside of yourself, and there is no one other than you. There is no imagining, and there is no beauty. There is no communion, and there is no fun. There is anxiety. The crack/cocaine epidemic swept through the ghettos of African American communities in the 1980s and ruined the lives of many families. My family was not an exception. From the age of seven to the age of ten years old, my brothers and I travelled back and forth from homeless shelters to the floors and couches of friends and family members.

One night, I was lying on some trash bags on the floor of a family member’s living room. I was looking up at the ceiling, feeling scared, unwanted, and unloved. There was glass breaking, and a woman was screaming, as a man chased her around the house and punched and slapped her when he could manage to make contact. As I lie in that room, looking up at the ceiling with this chaos all about me, something struck me about the way my brothers slept. Their bodies seemed frail and thin, and yet their skin seemed to glisten beautifully as the lamp from another room, cast rays of light over the top of us.

My mother always encouraged me to look after my brothers, and since she didn't seem to be herself, I began to understand and take on this responsibility. I was only 3 minutes older than my identical twin, a year older than my other brother, and 4 years older than the baby who I am not sure was there. I sensed their innocence, and I remember thinking of the beauty with which they seemed to sleep. I felt great love for them, and I can remember the feeling of comfort in their presence and the connection of our shared life experience. As I became more aware of our helplessness in this chaos, I began to cry as the deep love that I had for them began to overpower my despair. I looked up to the ceiling, and I prayed to God. “Dear God, please save us and help us. I miss Mama and Daddy, and I am so sad. Please! I do not want to be like this when I grow up. I do not want to live like this. Please, God, help me take care of my brothers. Help us to get out of this!” I think I was 6 years old. It was a sweltering summer. Just before I fell asleep, great calm and peace overcame me. Stillness, silence, and inspiration. I knew at the moment; I would be all right. I sensed someone or something answering my prayers, and I cried myself to sleep.

Anything is Possible: Maui, Hawaii, 2004

When I was twenty-four years old, I was working as an entertainer on a cruise ship. I felt alive. It was my first professional job after training in musical theatre, and I was grateful someone was paying me to do what I loved. It was an incredible time in my life, and I felt strong, healthy, immortal, and invincible. To add to my gratification, the itinerary schedule meant we docked in Maui, Hawaii for two days and one night before sailing to the other Hawaiian Islands. One morning, a few friends and I decided to drive to a place called Rainbow Beach. While we there, I was standing waist-deep in the water. As I glanced out over the horizon, I saw a humpback whale dive out of the water and into the air. It is an image that has never left me, captured in my mind and heart forever. What I appreciate about that moment is that everyone on that beach stood there in amazement and in awe. We collectively gasped and held our breath as this majestic and massive creature seemed to hover above the water for what now seems like an eternity. Then we exhaled together as the whale splashed back into the water again. I thought to myself, “How did I get here?” I knew at that moment that if I could make it there from the ghettos of Evansville, Indiana, to this inspiring moment on the beach, anything was possible. I thought, “Wow. We are truly the creators of our lives.” My life had not been perfect up to that point, and I was still an arrogant, lost, insecure, kid full of self-doubt, fear, and pain from my past. However, if my desire and hope for a brighter future could get me to that experience, even with all that I still loathed in myself, then how much more could I achieve and experience in my personal and professional life?

What I experienced was a hint of what underlies every endeavour as a spark of desire - a beautiful feeling of hope for the future. Inspiration in Chaos. Inspiration is transcendent. Some believe it is from God or The Divine. It gives you an inkling of what it is you need to do to progress on your soul’s path.

Sometimes the inspiration merely starts you on your way, as a spark of creation. Sometimes inspiration gives you a confirmation to let you know you are on the correct path or have made the right decision. And sometimes, you will experience inspiration and gratitude meld into one when you experience your dreams become a reality. Other times inspiration alters your destination when your path in life forks onto a different road. Inspiration is the beginning of every worthwhile endeavour, and the fruit of every meaningful end; an ever-changing cycle of growth. All beginnings lead to worthy ends because all journeys matter and every moment lived carries meaning and inspiration.

Inspiration in Chaos

Currently, there is a pandemic that swept across the globe. We are required to socially isolate, income has been eliminated, and many of us have lost loved ones. We do not know how long the mandate for social distancing and isolating will continue, but we have a right to feel anxiety in all this chaos. However, what if we could find inspiration in chaos. In other words, perhaps instead of becoming overwhelmed, unmotivated and depressed, we can use this time to grow.

My personal struggles gave birth to my calling as a performer and teacher. The resilience I've developed from my past has helped me to achieve my dreams of travelling and performing around the world to perform on stage, television, and film. In this moment of trial and tribulation, I've decided to step out of my comfort zone to finish some incomplete projects, inspire my students, and be vulnerable enough to teach others what I have learned from my past troubles. I can use my experience to encourage someone else.

I encourage you to use this time to give birth to something that you've have always been afraid to take action on. Make meaning out of this crisis and use the meaning to overcome fear and self-doubt to grow. Perhaps, you might inspire hope in others you to overcome their challenges. I pray I can inspire you to overcome your self-doubt, victimization, and fear so that you walk in your true purpose and calling. I understand the road of life gets difficult, and I wish I could take away your fear. I do not like to see people hurting. I wish I could take a wand and wipe the fear, self-doubt, and unbelief away. However, I know that would not be in our best interests, because the best lessons are learned from living through the experience. Understanding our emotions is part of the spiritual growth needed for self-mastery. Find meaning in your pain and attach purpose to your struggle, and use your experience to encourage someone else.

As Voltaire so eloquently spoke, “Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.” During this time of crisis, trouble, and tribulation, it is finding meaning that will help us to overcome. If you cannot find meaning, then you must make meaning. Inspiration is about calling and purpose. It is about serving that calling and purpose with all that you are. When you do that you will begin to see life unfold for you in beautiful ways.

Video Transcript

My name is Brandon Lee Sears and I am an American living in London. I am an actor, singer, and dancer and I am also a teacher. I just want to I guess share my story with you. When I was 7 years old my parents began using crack cocaine. I just knew that something was wrong. I just need a Daddy stop coming around. I need that mama stop being herself. She wasn't nurturing so much anymore, and we were alone a lot. No food…I can remember being very hungry all the time. I can remember knowing something was wrong, but I can remember hoping for something more and having dreams and knowing that there was something beyond the situation that I was in. Young people have this amazing ability to be resilient because you don't know what's going on, but you know you have to do what you have to do to survive. All I can do is use my experience to encourage somebody else. Although, I was succeeding in school and responding to adversity in a way that was seen as successful to the people around me. I realize that a lot of it was just a dysfunctional response to the traumatic experiences that I had in life; overcompensating; trying to be absolutely perfect.

And I didn't know why I kept repeating this cycle self. It was perpetuating itself. You know, I’d reach a certain level of success and then crash and burn. And until I stumbled upon some amazing books by a guy named Jack Canfield called The Success Principles. Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I met some amazing people who just simply said things to me like, do you know that you're in control of your thoughts? Do you know that I can't make you feel a certain way unless you believe that you feel that way? Do you know that every emotion that you have you can control and it's only because the thought that you have about a situation that causes that emotion?

All of these different things caused me to think. After I started to read these books and practice things like visualization, meditation mindfulness… becoming aware of the way that I was feeling and the way that I was talking and how I was thinking I started to change my life. I think it starts with inspiration and starts with hope. It starts with these amazing angels that stepped into my life and show me that there was something other than what I was experiencing. By seeing that gap. By seeing something else and buy be touched by experiences that were not my own it gave me hope and it gave me a sense of knowing that there might be something else out there that wasn't the situation that I was experiencing.

The ability to take control of our mindsets and use our minds to overcome any situation or circumstance that we're in and that's not dependent upon the talent that we have are these fixed gifts and abilities that are given to us, but the amount of work that we put into a situation and the amount of effort that we give. If you can learn how to accept failure. If you can learn how to meet failure head-on. If you can learn how to jump into failure, you're always going to one step up your life. You're always going to grow. All I can do is use my experience to encourage somebody else.

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There will inevitably be mistakes that happen in live theatre, and the pressure to outshine and outdo others can be overwhelming in the West End. Sometimes, the performing arts can be a culture where we have to battle negative self-image and unhealthy attitudes.

When I first started out in my training as a pre-professional performer I had low self-esteem and I exercised self-limiting behaviours such giving up, and escapism, because of low self-esteem. As performers, we often attach our sense of self-esteem to our performance. We often feel out of control of our success or failure because of the negative judgements of others and...REJECTION. The industry is tough, and if you want to be a success in your training and on stage, you have to develop successful habits and a healthy mindset.

Eventually, I had to learn ways to improve my esteem and build the strength to grow into a confident performer. With a GROWTH MINDSET, you perceive challenges as a natural part of the learning process. You grow beyond rejection and overcome personal challenges to continue toward the pursuit of your goals. You develop RESILIENCE. Everyone wants to perform well, but if you focus only on performance results you become afraid to take the necessary risks to grow as an artist.

Set goals for learning (not just for performance success). This can help you to release the need to be perfect in audition and rehearsal situations.

Examples include:

  • Experimenting with new types of acting, singing, and dancing techniques.

  • Acting, singing and dancing in new and unusual ways that are different from what you normally experience

  • Taking the risk to accept different types of performing opportunities even if you are not entirely sure you can meet the challenge

  • Seeking the help of mentors, coaches, or others you admire in the business, and asking them questions and advice even if it may seem ‘absurd’ or ‘stupid’

  • Looking to work on material that pushes you instead of keeping safe in your comfort zone

Develop a growth mindset as you work toward your learning goals!!!

1. Create a belief in yourself

Self-confidence is crucial because you need to have a future vision for yourself while overcoming challenges, and motivating yourself to continue toward your goals after rejection.

2. Seeing failure as an opportunity for growth and learning from your mistakes.

You must accept that failure is inevitable. Mistakes and failures are part of the journey toward success. The kind of growth that is necessary for success in the performing arts industry means that our mistakes are also exposed for others to see. Accept that when you are operating outside of your comfort zone you may feel like a failure. It's ok. Forgive your mistakes. Accept them, learn from them, and move on.

3. Grow your self-awareness through feedback from coaches, mentors or friends.

Seeking feedback from mentors, coaches, or a small group of trusted friends is crucial for your personal development. These mentors will encourage you to set goals and show you blind spots, or negative behaviours and patterns of thinking that may be getting in the way of your success.

4. Develop your curiosity and commit to lifelong learning.

Curiosity is an emotion that is the striving force for human development. The commitment to lifelong learning and curiosity will increase our motivation toward success. This striving force is the desire to acquire more of something new and then to use that in the future to bring deeper happiness and contentment.

5. Prepare for and welcome challenges and obstacles.

When you can imagine the obstacles and challenges that may occur, before they do, you will be less affected by them. You’ll also brainstorm ways to deal with them when they arise. This helps your ability to innovate ways of problem-solving and decision making.

6. Develop a passion and purpose for your dreams and apply them in performance, rehearsals, and practice.

“The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of this life is this: Decide what you want.” – Ben Stein

Create a sense of purpose toward your career by developing a mission statement or a reason that you are committed to your success. Have a sense of hope and optimism for the future, because your success is possible. What are the core objectives that guide your life and career? Write them down and reread them when you feel like you lose your will.

7. Be persistent. Have Tenacity

You will encounter obstacles that will test your self-belief and ability to be persistent. The path toward your success will not always feel pleasurable. Sometimes patience and a stoic approach is the only way forward. Just showing up to do the work even when you do not want to is crucial to your success.

Here is a Surprise Bonus Tip For You:

Inspiration through being inspired and being an inspiration

Become a leader by copying the successful behaviours of the people you look up to! Begin to study the successful traits and capabilities of those performers who are leaders in this industry that you admire. You can use that knowledge and attempt to assimilate it into your professional identity to propel your success. Become the star you were destined to be by assessing the leadership success and actions of other high performers.

I've grown so much in my personal and professional life by mirroring the "star" like qualities of my mentors and the leaders I look up to.

Master your mindset and succeed in the performing arts!

Hey, if you like this blog, like it, share it, and post a pic to and hashtag #brandonleesears #musicaltheatremindset

Hey, if you like this blog, like it, share it, and post a pic to and hashtag #brandonleesears#musicaltheatremindset

Transcription of 7 Ways to Overcome Rejection Video:

Hey, everybody!

Brandon Lee Sears here with you

giving you tips tools and strategies

on how to tap into your potential

for peak performance and exceptional success.

We are learning how to master that musical theater mindset.

And today I want to talk to you a little bit

about overcoming rejection.

There will inevitably be mistakes

failures that happen in musical theater… in live performance,

and as performers , we need to develop the mindset

and the ability

to overcome these failures on the path toward our goals.

As performers we have to develop the resilience

the ability to overcome those obstacles

when they happen and be able to still maintain the amount of

self-confidence that is necessary to perform.

Have you ever been in a dance class

and perform horribly and felt

so much anxiety and shame

and guilt and sadness from that perceived failure

that you felt like you couldn’t go on,

or you felt like you didn't know

how to get beyond those feelings.

Perhaps you've been in an audition

and you didn't get the result that you would have liked.

You didn't go far enough

or you got cut from an audition

and the perpetuating self-doubt from

not doing well overcame you and you felt overwhelmed.

Maybe you're sitting now when you're not able to perform

or to act or to sing or dance

the way that you would like to be dancing right now,

perhaps you feel doubtful of yourself

and you just really don't know how to deal

with the feelings that you're having up in

there to a lot of it has to do with overcoming rejection.

In my own career as a professional performer.

I suffered from self-limiting beliefs.

I suffered from self-doubt.

I suffered from not having within me the knowledge

or the resources around me to really understand

what was going on

whenever I was practicing these bad behaviors.

Sometimes I lacked the self-confidence

to fully commit to my pre-professional growth

and I didn't know what behaviors and habits were getting in my way.

There was a blind spot.

I exercised horrible self-limiting behaviors like, truancy, giving up, self-sabotage, escapism and addiction

because of all the disempowering beliefs that I had inside.

As performers, we often attach our sense of self confidence to

what we do on the outside

to our performance to our ability to sing

to our ability to dance to our ability to act well

and when we don't feel like we're doing these things well…

when we dont’t feel like we're performing well,

we often attach that those feelings to our identity to ourselves.

I understand what it is to feel doubtful.

I understand what it is to feel to feel sad.

I understand what it is to feel like a failure

because of these self-limiting beliefs.

When you can move beyond rejection to overcome personal

challenges to continue toward the pursuit of our

musical theater goals, we develop resilience.

A lot of the things that we perceive

as failures are not failures at all,

but they're necessary steps

to grow in order to achieve our goals.

The best learning programs set stretch goals.

Huge, massive goals, with a gap

between where we currently are to where we want to be

so that you're tripping and failing and falling

on your way up to reaching that goal.

It's called growth

It’s how you become a master at anything that you do.

Everyone wants to perform well,

but if we focus only on performance results,

we become afraid to take the necessary risks

that we need to take in order to grow as an artiste.

We need to set goals not only for performance,

but we have to set goals for learning as well.

When we set learning goals, we release the need to be perfect

in situations such as auditions, on-stage, and in rehearsals.

We stop perceiving new situations as threats,

and instead we feel comfortable in these challenging situations to take risks

to make bold choices

to go where no man has gone before

That's called creativity.

In a series of astonishing experiments,

Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck showed us that

when we're concerned about how we appear to others

it inhibits our ability to perform well in new situations and unfamiliar territory.

This well respected theory of motivation is called a growth-mindset.

Now this motivation theory is based on developing the belief that we can achieve our tasks and goals

that we can work towards success in life

work, work ,work,

With a growth mindset, you perceive challenge as a natural part of the learning process.

Now, you can develop a growth mindset by experimenting with new types of acting, singing, or dancing techniques

acting, singing, and dancing in new and unusual ways

that are different from what you normally experience.

By taking the risk to accept and to feel different and new types of performing,

you can look to work on material that pushes you,

instead of keeping safe in your comfort zone.

When you begin to develop a growth mindset,

you will understand that every environment is an opportunity for growth.

Success in the effort…

in the work…

How to develop your growth mindset?

One. You have to start learning how to create a belief in yourself.

We have to take the responsibility of creating this belief.

We can develop this belief that our self by reaching goals

and setting benchmarks as we reach those goals

so that once we reach the benchmark… when we reach this progressive goal,

we get a sense of feeling of achievement

and then in turn our bodies release endorphins

and adrenaline because we're excited

because we've achieved a goal. You can create a belief in yourself by reading

and studying mentors and people who will tell you the exact same thing

I'm telling you now. Anyone who's ever grown

and made a difference or an impact of the world - read their autobiography

and most of them will say what I'm doing,

what I've learned is possible

for anybody with enough work and with enough effort.

If you want to be like someone, read all about them.

Imitate what they're doing. Learn about them .

Absorb that, and begin to study the successful traits,

and capabilities of those performers that you admire.

You can use that knowledge

and attempt to assimilate it into your own practice

into your own professional identity to improve your chances of success

and you can create a belief in yourself by reading them

by deciding and being in charge of what you're putting in here

in here and through here

your associations your friends

what you're listening to, what you're seeing

what you're allowing to go and infiltrate into your being

through your senses overwhelming your senses with an

amazing astonishing sometimes irrational belief in yourself

is so helpful in achieving and reaching your goals

Two. Seeing failure as an opportunity.

You have to accept that failure is Inevitable

mistakes and failures are a part of the journey towards success

the kind of growth that is necessary

for success in the Performing Arts industry

means that our mistakes are also exposed for everyone to see

We have to accept that when were operating out of our comfort zone,

we may feel like a failure. It's okay. Forgive your mistakes.

Accept them. Learn from them.

Grow from them.

Move on, and learn to love everything you can about yourself

because failure is a necessary step on the way to reaching

and achieving your goals, and the future vision

that you have for your life.

Three, Three, Three.

Cultivate self awareness through feedback.

Get feedback, Get feedback.

Find, seek, and get feedback from everyone and anyone,

you know, who will listen to you sing , act, or dance.

Seeking feedback from mentors coaches

or a small group of trusted friends

is crucial for your personal development.

These mentors will encourage you to grow more.

They'll give you feedback.

They'll encourage you to look at things

in a new way that you've never seen before

these mentors will encourage you to set goals

and show you blind spots

that you may not have been aware of

or negative behaviors and patterns of thinking

that are getting in your way

and may be getting in your way on your road to success


Develop curiosity and a commitment to life long learning

Learn to know how you learn

and learn to love learning.

This is how humans evolved

our curiosity for learning

our curiosity to grow

our ability to look ahead in the future

and create something now

that will benefit ourselves in the future

is why humans have evolved so well

create a commitment to lifelong learning

and you have to prepare for and welcome obstacles

Think to yourself…

What's something that can get in my way

What’s something that is a stumbling block

on my way to success

When you can imagine the obstacles and challenges

that may occur before they do

you won't be so emotionally deflated when they do

This helps your ability to problem-solve and make decisions

in innovative ways

to attack and to overcome

or to move past the challenges in your life.

Six. Develop a passion for your work”

” The indispensable first step to getting anything you want

out of this life, is to decide what you want. {Ben Stein}

You’ve got to create a sense of purpose

toward your musical theatre career.

You've got to figure out your “why”

You've got to develop a mission statement

or a reason that you're so committed to your growth no matter what

When I first moved here,

I was l auditioning constantly.

No, no, no. No, I have no money.

But I decided that I would not be defeated.

I had a deep inner drive

and by developing a sense of hope and optimism,

you'll begin to believe that your success is possible.

What are the core values the core objectives that guide your life and career?

Write those down.

Get pumped up.

Feel emotional about it.

Write them down, and reread them.

And when you feel like you're going to lose,

fill yourself up with emotional confidence

And the kind of emotion, the kind of emotion

that gets you geared towards success.

Tenacity. Tenacity is perseverance.

It's grit.

It's the ability to keep moving on.

You're gonna encounter obstacles that will test your self belief

and ability to be persistent.

The path toward your success

will not always feel pleasurable

Sometimes patients and a stoic approach

is the only way forward.

Just showing up to do the work

even when you do not want to is crucial toward your success.

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  • Every thought and emotion we have is the result of physiological activity in the brain. The relationship between the brain and the mind can help us to understand what is happening when we feel fear.

Thinking of the brain as a three-part or 'triune' brain helps us to understand how it works when we feel fear in auditions.

  1. The neocortex is the thinking or logical part of the brain. In this part of the brain, we think logically and solve problems.

  2. The limbic brain is the emotional or feeling brain. We remember emotions and attach them to experiences with this part of the brain.

  3. The brain stem is the reptilian brain or the instinctual and primitive part of the brain responsible for the "fight or flight" modes when we feel fear.

Our ability to overcome fear depends on how we manage what part of the brain we are activating to respond and meet challenges. We can navigate the emotional experience of fear and self-doubt to perform well in auditions, rehearsals, or at our jobs when we can manage our state of stress by moving from reactivity to creativity. When we are in a reactive state, our brain activity is in the brain stem, and when we are in a creative state we are operating from the neocortex. In auditions, rehearsals, or while performing, we can manage our brain activity to move from the stressful states of reactivity into a state of creativity by

1. shifting our focus AND

2. practising mindfulness

It is possible to build resilience to overcome fear in ourselves to thrive in the face of adversity and challenging situations when we use mindfulness and focus shifts to change the area of activity in the brain.

Inspirational Quotes

Full Transcript

Hey there. Brandon Lee Sears here again with you, giving you tips, tools, and strategies on how to overcome your fear and self-doubt to tap into your potential for peak performance and exceptional success. Today, I want to talk to you a little bit about fear and the science of nailing that audition. Yeah. You have to understand our auditioning brain. Maintaining high-performance levels in rehearsals, auditions, and on-stage in order to achieve our goals and stay at the top of our game is crucial to our success in the performing arts. But how do we manage the stress and self-doubt enough to stay at the top of our game while supporting our health and well-being?

Now many seasoned professionals suffer in silence from stage fright, and public speaking is a crippling fear of many others. When performers do not know how to effectively manage stress, we suffer from health issues such as depression, anxiety, and addiction. The most important ability I try to cultivate and develop to be successful in the West End is the ability to manage stress and self-doubt to overcome and take action in spite of fear.

We all have within us infinite potential, if we will only gain an understanding of we are...the greatness of who we are, we could overcome challenges, meet adversity head-on, and take steps to achieve our dreams, so let's get to it.

Every thought and emotion we have is the result of physiological activity in the brain. The relationship between the brain and the mind can help us to understand what is happening when we feel fear.

Now we have a triune brain. We have the neocortex, it's the rational or thinking brain. The Limbic Brain is the emotional or feeling brain, and the reptilian brain, the brain stem is instinctual...primitive

The brain stem controls our basic body functions and what these body functions do when we feel in danger (flight, fight, freeze, or faint modes). Now the limbic system plays a role in emotional learning and emotional memory. The limbic system is where the amygdala links our memories to pleasure and pain in our brains. The neocortex is the seat of consciousness where we weigh the present, imagine a better future, and plan ways to achieve our goals. Also, the neocortex processes creativity, and logical thinking so we can make decisions. Fear is a natural physiological occurrence because our brains seek safety first. It is ok to feel fear. When we feel fear, it is because we have perceived a threat to our safety. However, we do not have to let this fear manage our decision-making process. Our ability to overcome fear depends on how we respond to meeting challenges. Are we in a reactive state or a creative state? Ah!

In neuroscience research reactivity is a state where we feel 'fight or flight'. It's a mode that is mapped to the brain stem leading to expressions of self-doubt and fear in low performance. However, creativity (when we feel inspired) is mapped to the prefrontal cortex and it's linked to high performance in those individuals who practice qualities of self-awareness, authenticity, achievement, and collaboration.

There is a relationship between the amount of resource and demand that our brain calculates to keep us safe. When we perceive that someone or some situation is demanding more resources than we have, we feel threatened and we move into reactive mode. When we are in reactive mode on a chronic basis, stress and self-doubt it leads to exhaustion, disconnection, and a reduced sense of self-confidence, but when we move into a creative mode we feel resourceful enough to meet the demands of the world. In this mode, we can handle a certain amount of stress while feeling challenged. We also feel a sense of love and belonging, because we feel competent enough to share and contribute. It is important to consider how we respond to challenges, so that we move from instinctual and primitive behaviour of seeking out survival in reactivity to acting in ways that are highly creative and self-aware.

Have you ever been involved in a rehearsal process and you felt communicative, open, and you felt emotionally connected to those around you, and you seemed to be having fun and intimately involved and focused when it came to any work the project was a part of? When we are in a creative state of being we are authentic, aware, courageous, and collaborate well with others. The feeling and expression of inspiration leads to high performance and fulfilment in a creative environment.

Now consider those times when you’ve been in an audition room and felt overly anxious to the point of confusion? Perhaps you seemed defensive and overly critical and negative toward others and yourself. Someone in reactivity will express the qualities of being overly passive or controlling, or defensive. Another expression of reactivity in many performers is perfectionism to prove our self-worth. The expressions of stress and self-doubt lead to low performance in a reactive state of being. I have been involved in processes before where the director, or the captains, or other creatives involved in the rehearsal process were negative. You know, they had a negative mindset, and they were in a reactive state, basically. Well, it was hard for others to feel comfortable enough to have creative expression in these reharsal processes. This overly stressful environment affects the learning, it affects the pick up of choreography. It affects the ability of performers to make inspired choices that contribute to the piece in an inspiring way. Spontaneous creativity. We can take individual responsibility for our own actions and for our own mental health and artistic growth by knowing how to control our mindset, and that comes with knowledge. It comes with understanding. It is your responsibility and no one else’s to take the first step and continue to build well-being into your creative practice. You will have a higher rate of personal and artistic growth and development when you are in an inspired and creative mindset. Anything is possible. All things are possible when we believe and draw from the deep resources of agency that we have in us to conquer our doubts and fears.

I'm going to give you some hacks right now for moving from a reactive state into a creative state. Six to flip the switch. That's the first hack. Look around the room you're in and notice everything that's orange right now. Now close your eyes. What do you see? Now you probably see orange or you may have had mental images of things that are orange, like fruit. You may have tasted an orange, if you thought of the fruit intially. We can change our focus. We can be responsible for the way that we see things through mental framing. Changing your focus, acute change of focus right in the moment. The next time your'e in an audition or a rehearsal, and you feel highly stressed. Step back, take six very slow deep breaths to hack your physiology, then reframe your mental state by repeating to yourself. "This is not a threat. This is a challenge." Or you can breathe in and out and associate some kind of cognitive cue like spelling out the word joy or faith. Pick one concept or skill to focus on. It can be as simple as smiling while you dance just say I'm gonna focus on smiling while I dance today. I'm going to focus on giving face. I'm gonna focus on giving attitude. You know, or you can focus on nailing certain rhythmic phrases. By narrowing your focus to one thing you lower the stress by decreasing the amount of demand your brain perceives. Rather than thinking of oh my god, I've got to get everything right. I've got to get this job so I can pay my bills. No, bring it down. Lower your stress levels by thinking on one thing at a time. By doing this, you move from a sense of reactivity to a sense of creativity and fulfilment and enjoyment and engagement in present moment awareness where you are.

Second hack. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention with a sense of openness, and curiosity for whatever is arising in the present moment. By making a deliberate effort to practice openness and look on whatever the experience is that I'm having right now with curiosity we can change the amount of stress we’re feeling to a manageable level that allows us to work in heightened performance state. When we feel curious, there is no threat but an attraction to the perceived challenge.