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insights on communication skills

Insights on Communication Skills and Relationship Building

Why YOU Are Your Best Professional Skills Investment, No Matter What

Posted by Jason Bayle on April 13, 2014

by Jason Bayle

Ovation Team Member Jason Bayle not only spends his time working with our clients on presentation skills training and consulting, but he recently furthered his acting training by getting his MFA. Way to go, Jason! In the first installment in our Investment Series for Tax Week, he talks about the inspiration he received watching a classmate invest in her own artistry and development despite the challenges in her path.

jason-bayle-1When I started graduate school in the fall of 2010, one of my classmates was a young woman from Taiwan named Chia-Wen Hsu.  Chia-Wen is an incredibly gifted physical actor and silks aerialist who at the time spoke very (very) little English, but was determined to broaden her skills in an American theatre setting.  If you're not familiar with MFA Acting programs let me clue you in: basically, you submit yourself and your work to intense scrutiny for 3 years. Every facet of who you are mentally, emotionally, physically, and how you work is examined in extreme and sometimes painful detail.  

I bring this up because despite a dramatic language barrier and being 5,000 miles from home with no family or close friends nearby, Chia-Wen threw herself into our program with abandon. We maintained frenetic schedules, usually from 830am-10pm, filled with classes, work, rehearsals and performances.  Somehow Chia-Wen also managed private English lessons and dialect coaching.  I never heard her complain or display a physical tantrum.

Imagine for a moment if you had to learn to perform in Chinese, and had to execute, at a professional level, the Chinese equivalent of Shakespeare- the whole time receiving copious notes about how you couldn't be understood- and then watching performance opportunities pass by because your language skills were still not sufficient for a 400 seat house.  This was the continuing challenge facing Chia-Wen.  Yet each day, and each new challenge, was greeted with the same smile and incredible spirit I have come to love her for.  

Fast forward 2 and 1/2 years and Chia-Wen's patience has begun to pay off.  Her English has improved tremendously.  She's receiving more and more performance opportunities, one of which I was fortunate to be part of.  The thing that Chia-Wen understood from the beginning of our time at school together was that she would not see immediate results.  She knew she would be uncomfortable for a considerable period of time. She committed fully to this time, this investment in herself, and found a way to view it not as a condemnation of who she was as a person or an artist.  Instead of shutting down and closing off from our instructors, she leaned in (to borrow a phrase) and made the most of her opportunity to get better as an actor.  

Submitting yourself to feedback in a situation as vulnerable as presenting can be extremely intimidating.  I know from experience.  But instead of retreating, if we can view it as a long term investment in ourselves, our professional skills, and our careers, we can make the most of what an opportunity like presentation skills training has to offer us. Greet your challenges with a smile, an open mind and heart, and soon you'll be reaping the rewards of your investment.  

 

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