Rock the boat, baby
Posted on May 26th, 2015

by Amy Sellors

Change is hard.  And scary.  I know this because I’m about to embark on a big change.

This summer I am off to Stephenville, Newfoundland.  My husband is the new Artistic Director of the theatre there. We’re renting out our Toronto home and we’re moving to a seaside cabin.  I’m getting back on the stage again after a significant hiatus.  I’m driving my car onto a boat and spending 6 hours on the Atlantic Ocean. Honestly, that really scares the heck out of me.  Cars on Ocean Liners??? Am I the only one terrified by that??!

 Back to change.  No matter how big or how small, or how commonplace the change may appear to someone on the outside, change can be scary to the person going through it.

Everyday at e-roleplay we speak to Learners who are facing change and feeling anxiety. They may have been asked to adopt a new model, process, task, or skill set into their day to day work. To help them move past the their fear or reluctance, we address the change they are facing head on.  We talk about their concerns.  We use empathy to let them know that fear is a common response to change. We ask them questions to explore the heart of the issue.  We draw their attention to things they haven’t considered.  And this helps them embrace the change – whether it is dealing with client objections, coaching a difficult employee, or picking up the phone to make cold calls.

I’ve been at e-roleplay for almost 15 years. I have been a  Roleplayer, a Trainer, a Coach who coaches Roleplayers, the Director of Learning, and for the last 4 years, the VP of Client Experience.   I am realizing that almost every day has been filled with the unexpected and the unknown.  I am continually asked to embrace change. I never know what a Learner, Client, or Roleplayer is going to say or ask for.  I don’t know what new information will come into play.  Are there technological challenges or improvements on the horizon? Will there be a crisis of some sort today? Sometimes a Client calls and asks for a new type of program – something we’ve never done before – I don’t instantly know what the best solution is, and a part of me is filled with fear but also excitement.  

In these situations, I have to go with what I know:  

  • I know I can ask questions
  • I know others have valuable information I can use
  • I know how people learn
  • I know how I learn

If a client is asking me to design an approach to teach their people, I need to learn it myself first.

Step 1:  Define

I learn the parameters – the rules of the game, as it were. This helps me to narrow my focus to what is actually in front of me and filter out what is unnecessary

Step 2:  Fact Find

I learn by gathering information:

  • What is happening currently?
  • What’s working?
  • What isn’t?
  • Who is involved?
  • What is unknown?
  • What is most important to learn?  
  • What does success look like?

Step 3:  Experience

I learn by doing.  I jump in with both feet and am not afraid to be wrong or make mistakes. Getting it right in the end is better than getting it right the first time

Step 4:  Refine

I practice. Before any solution is delivered to a client, it’s been tried and tested so it’s the best it can be. This approach has helped me for many years when I faced change. So, back to me and my fear of driving a car onto an Ocean Liner and the changes that lie ahead. The only reason I’m afraid is that I don’t know what’s going to happen. I guess I need to apply my e-roleplay Change Process to myself and my new adventure.

So, here’s the plan:

Step 1:  Define

What are the rules?

  • Driving there takes 3 days in the car plus the overnight ferry.
  • Tens of thousands of people drive cars onto ferries every day and nobody dies.
  • It’s a standard theatre contract – similar to many I’ve done in the past
  • We’re there from June 1 to mid-August
  • I have to drive the car once again onto the ferry when we leave, and then 3 more days of driving.
  • Our accommodation is sorted and lovely.

Ok.  Those are the parameters.  That seems doable, and thinking that through has filtered out some unimportant thoughts that were stressing me out.

Step 2:  Fact Find

  • I wrote to a friend from Newfoundland and asked about Stephenville.  He gave me lots of information about the town.  It used to be an old army base and they love the theatre there.
  • It will be colder than Ontario.  I’ve packed sweaters.
  • The people are wonderful – those ‘would give you the shirt off their back’ kind of people.
  • The theatre is running 5 shows and I am in two of them and directing a third.
  • We’re doing big shows and will do promotional events to re-build the audience.
  • I know some of the other actors who will be working at the theatre.  
  • I get to meet some new people!
  • Tens of thousands of people drive cars onto ferries every day and nobody dies. (I just keep repeating that over and over…)
  • I need to learn my lines, my songs, my blocking, my dance steps…all that good stuff.
  • When there are bums in seats and the audience is happy – and they renew my husband’s contract – we will have been successful.

Step 3: Experience

When I get into the car and start driving it will be time for Step 3 – jumping in with both feet.  I’m nervous, but excited.  This is an adventure.

Step 4: Refine

The only way to practice having an adventure is to have more of them.  Honestly, it’s been a while and maybe that’s why I’m nervous. It doesn’t have to be perfect.  And when things go wrong – which I’m certain they will – I will learn from them, because change is an opportunity to learn – about yourself, about your surroundings, and about the world.

“Tens of thousands of people drive cars onto ferries everyday and nobody dies.”- Amy Sellors








One response to “Rock the boat, baby”

  1. Kris Ryan says:

    You made it! As you say “Tens of thousands….”Now onto the moose, whales and Icebergs! Have fun…

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