Recently I wrote a post about “The Greatest Advice Came From The Theater.” My Drama Teacher – Mrs. Bettler – her advice from that post is wisdom that has been true for decades. Fortunately, that was not the only advice gained from my time in the theater. Instead, the next suggestion might sound familiar, “never steal the spotlight when you’re not the star!”
Mrs. Bettler dispensed this advice to me when I was trying to steal the show as a supporting role in the play. Desiring so, I proceeded to mingle in the background as instructed. As I remained in character, but then I began to leap up and down with glee. Immediately, Mrs. Bettler stopped our rehearsal, making a tactful point where she instructed us to “never steal the spotlight when you’re not the star!” Hearing her words, I instantly realized she was talking about me. Also, I appreciated that she did not call me out publicly. Furthermore, I had no idea I had even made the error, and it was a glimpse into my soul. A reveal where I wanted more attention than I ever knew.
Today everyone still wants to be a star. The only difference is the platforms used for attention. In the mid-90s, the limelight centered through MTV, VH1, athletic competitions, and other public platforms. Now social media is the vehicle used to communicate one’s goal for attention. Some might say that young adults – even all adults – are more star crazed (narcissistic) than yesteryear. Perhaps, or perhaps not. Keep in mind, Mrs. Bettler’s advice came to me in the mid-90s a decade before social media even began, let alone a full decade and a half after social media has grown larger. No matter who is right on a generations hunger for the spotlight over another, Mrs. Bettler’s advice remains valid: “Don’t steal the spotlight!”
Mrs. Bettler’s advice is still correct. Why? Because I focused my attention on where it was needed most than trying to steal it from others, I ended up winning “Best Supporting Actor” for the play. Many others even said after the performance, “Mike, you make a great nerd!” Now, one can joke about how much of an act my nerdiness was or was not, but I think you get the point.
Admittedly, I’m still working on this one, but I have become a lot better…I think. Over time, I have given others the spotlight. Be it giving others credit for the work we did together, allowing other family members to shine in conversations over myself, or more. Doing so, when others shine, everyone wins in the end. Let’s then shine our spotlight onto others than ourselves!