How Equanimity Produces Better Broadway Shows
n. The quality of being calm and even-tempered; composure.
n. Evenness of mind or temper; calmness or firmness, especially under conditions adapted to excite great emotion.
My favorite question to be asked by prospective clients is: what sets KGM apart? What are our core values? For a long time, our standard answer was focus. At KGM, we believe focused work and focused decisions drive better outcomes for theatrical shows.
If each show is its own startup, there are naturally thousands of decisions, some minor, and others massive, that necessarily must be made over the course of the days and weeks leading up to a premiere. And it’s tempting to assume that more is more; the more we say yes rather than no, the more ideas we throw against the wall, the better our chances of making it will be. Five publicity events, an Instagram takeover, a partnership with a local business, all in week two of rehearsals. Yes yes yes.
A show, especially one on a budget, can’t operate effectively if the humans working behind the scenes are being pulled in too many directions at once.
How then to empower and lead a team to success? Focus.
Even if we did have all of the resources in the world, which we don’t on most theatrical ventures, most humans work better when there’s clarity of focus. And, at KGM, we strive to narrow down the choices into the ones that will produce the best outcomes given the unique set of circumstances, and market conditions, that a show getting ready to debut finds itself in at that exact moment in time.
We stand by focus. Focus will always be one of our defining values at KGM. Focus in how we help our clients approach decision making, focus in how we choose to sit in periods of quiet or stillness during parts of the day to thoughtfully and fully consider a matter on behalf of our clients.
But, more recently, we’ve been challenged to think more holistically about focus, specifically as it relates to this unique business of show business. After some, well, focused time, to reflect on this challenge, we’ve added a new core value to KGM’s unique approach, and one that reflects something that has truly been at our core all along: equanimity.
Naturally, when a show is hurtling towards a debut, when there are so many decisions to make and so much at stake, it’s easy to let our carefully honed leadership skills slip into exasperation or panic, or something that is a far cry from the calmness that those around us desperately need in those exact moments.
Which is why, at KGM, we strive to set a tone that can be replicated and practiced by all team members. If there are too many decisions to make late one night, let’s stand back. We can literally only make one decision at a time. So, for a few moments, we must forget the other four. Are they important? Absolutely. But, for now, we’re going to break everything down into smaller and smaller parts until something become manageable.
Or, we can choose not to choose tonight. Tomorrow is another day.
If everything is a crisis, our teams will forever be in crisis. But, if we can isolate each step, or even stand back entirely for a few hours, we can lead with composure in times of challenge. In fact, let’s steer clear of this word “emergency.” Okay, the turntable is broken, a new number needs to be rehearsed and the critics are coming tomorrow night. This is a challenge, but, no problem, we can handle this.
What are the steps involved? Book a rehearsal room, check. Schedule a morning carpentry work call, check. Remind everyone to breathe, check.
Same crisis. Same problem. Same challenge. But better outcomes. So, for us, for our clients, to improve outcomes, and for the human artists working on our projects, we choose to lead with focus and equanimity.