Stage Acting Basics

Lights, Camera, Action!

When it comes to our work, it’s hard to overestimate the power of behavioral foresight. Effectiveness at work, and life for that matter, does in one very real sense come down to accessing effective states and behaviors at the very moment they are needed.

We could think of these behaviors as “just in time behaviors.” Just in time behaviors are similar to the behaviors of an actor on stage. In the moment of the performance, the actor accesses energy to display a behavior that adds value to the scene. She is acting the needed “part” at the right time in order to advance the story. Is this really all that different from what we do at work?


Like the actor, we have to bring the right actions to bear at the right moment in order to influence that moment, the people, and the work itself. Think of what an actor does to ready herself for the performance. She learns lines, practices expressions, and rehearses the scene again and again. She does this to ready herself for the moment when she will stand on the stage and deliver.

When it comes to how we should behave to increase effectiveness, we too must determine and rehearse behaviors like the actor. We must consider what behaviors would best serve a particular moment and then rehearse those in advance so we can draw them up when we need them.

Imagine if we could jettison the idea that our personalities are fixed? What if instead we embraced the notion that, if we are mindful and willing to learn, there is a wide variety of behaviors we can access to fit the need of the moment (and the work)? Then in a sense our actions at work would become similar to the actions of an actor on the stage.

Behavioral foresight then is the process of identifying and practicing behaviors that you believe will make you more effective in a specific future moment. You identify and practice before you need the behaviors so that you are more likely to access them in the moment of truth.

It would look like this:

  1. We determine what behaviors are necessary for a particular piece of work (just like the actor determines what specific behaviors are needed for a particular scene)
  2. We develop the ability to “stabilize” – or call up that behavior when needed (just like an actor – night after night – can bring out the behavior at the right moment of the scene)
  3. We apply that stabilized behavior at the right moment to the high-stakes work in order to advance the mission (just like an actor displays the behavior at the right moment in a scene to advance the story)

Below is the Behavioral Foresight Planning Document (attached). You can use it to imagine a moment ahead and how you can enter it with greater mindfulness. Pages 3 and 4 of the document give you specific prompts you can use to think about and document how you want to “show up” for an important moment ahead. Use it to reflect on needed behaviors you need to be as mindful and effective as you can in that upcoming moment.

Behavioral Foresight – Explore and Practice – f- CLICK TO DOWNLOAD