Attending TCG’s National Conference was amazing! I’m so appreciative of Blake Robison (former Artistic Director of Round House Theatre/incoming Artistic Director of Cincinnati Playhouse) for nominating me as a Young Leader of Color (YLC). Not only was it a great honor, but I wouldn’t have been able to attend otherwise.
For many of us YLC folks, this was our first time at the conference, which boasted more than 1,000 theatre professional from around the world. What should have been a daunting, and I daresay, alienating experience, was welcoming, inspiring, and motivating. We started the conference a day and a half before everyone else. The lovely folks at TCG arranged special meetings, workshops and soirees for us! This allowed us to build a small, nurturing and supportive community of theatre artists.
One of our first sessions was a Values Clarification Workshop led by motivational speaker, Paul Robinson, of the Wilder Center for Communities. In this workshop, we defined our core values and established a broader and more comprehensive understanding of what it means to be leader. This was such a meaningful experience and I know I won't be able to capture it entirely, but I want to share a bit about what we learned:
First, Paul had us define our individual Core or Touchstone Values. Values are what matter to us; what we can't live without; what defines us; what stimulates and inspires us; and what is central to who we are. In order for a value to be a Core or Touchstone value, they have to be:
Now it's your turn:
If you’re not living or practicing your core values, then you either need to adjust them or adjust your life. But remember life is a process and you're a work in progress, so it's all good! This is just to see where you are and what you need to do to get to where you want to be!
This is important, because as a leader you have to have a clear idea of what your values are. You have to be able to stand up for your core values and defend them even in the most difficult of situations.
As a leader, you have a platform for your thoughts and ideas. It is an honor to be in such a position. As a leader, you’re given great power and influence to impact the world around you. You are uplifted and heralded because your values speak to the community. It is an extraordinary privilege to be in such a position. As a leader, you are responsible to your community. You are there to support and nurture your community. You are there to challenge and strengthen your community. You must never take your role as a leader for granted nor should you ever take advantage of those in your care.
For me, a leader is someone who has integrity, courage, humility, compassion, a strong work ethic and values excellence; someone who gets out of their own way, checks their ego at the door, and remains accountable for their actions; someone who is discerning, able to delegate, and listens to the needs of their community; someone who understands that leadership is a privilege and with that privilege comes a great deal of responsibility; and someone willing to say they don’t know and that they were wrong. This is the kind of person I strive to be. I don't always succeed, but I am making my best effort.
Needless to say, I left this meeting and the conference feeling empowered, confident and with a greater sense of purpose for my life and career in the theatre. It's been a long time since I've felt anything close to that... a really long time.
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I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!