Self-ish acting

Since the days that that well known theatrical performer Margaret Thatcher claimed that “there is no such thing as society, only individuals”, the concept of individual or “personal” learning has become a widely used term in theatre workshops and courses.

“What do you want to get out of the workshop?”

“What are your personal objectives?”

When egos dominate in the form of self-ishness, in a workshop and people only give a little in order to “get” a lot, synergy isn’t created and the result is that everyone involved ends up getting very little. The whole isn’t greater than the sum of the parts, and even the parts of being mean.

Everyone is too busy trying to “evolve” that real involvement – sharing – goes out of the window. The group diverges and, even where there is common ground, energy is lost in managing the boundaries and the “interfaces” between the individuals who stand together but aloof from each other in the same room.

Involvement as a more circular feel and, after a while, the sharing becomes a kind of spiral that is constantly spinning. The group becomes a single being where individual consciousness weaves in and out of the group process, never losing its sense of self, yet also feeling part of a synergistic whole.

We bounce off each other. Yet what we give to another (in the form of feedback active listening, suggestions, responses and proposals) often bounces back, changed, transformed, enriched.

Properties emerge from our involvement that were not there when we stood separate and self-ish. The group becomes more than the sum of its separate components. There can be an initial sense of loss of individuality until we realise that each self represents a unique standpoint in the group process able to offer singular insights and put them into the collective melting pot of learning. We do not lose self in the group, we enhance it. This helps both the individual and the group to learn and develop its competence.

The group becomes a learning “society”.

Yet always after the process is completed and each individual emerges and reflects on their experience, learning of value arises and each self can be enriched.

But you have to trust the process.

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