Armored vs. Daring Performing (and Teaching)

Brené Brown did two segments on the topic of “armored vs. daring leadership” last April, which I came across a few weeks ago. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard the term “putting on armor” in regards to relationship issues.

I had previously heard the term in one of my therapy sessions last fall. My therapist and I were reviewing some recent correspondence (recent as in 20 minutes before I left the house) between me and someone with whom I’d had a falling out, she said, “Wow, you both are operating in courtroom mode; you’re putting on your armor.” This term means that we both were responding with defensiveness rather than openheartedness and seeing the other person’s POV.  Instead of allowing for the possibility of being wrong, each of us was indulging in whataboutism.

So when I heard these podcasts, I remembered that term from a few months earlier, and heard how Dr. Brown applied to the concept of leadership in business, and it made me think about how it might relate to my interactions both as a performer and as a teacher. (Not to mention as a human being relating to other human beings.)

Dr. Brown identified components of Armored Leadership vs. Daring Leadership, and I’d like to put those in here. You can find the full transcripts in the two podcasts of April 5, 2021 and April 12, 2021. (And I’d strongly recommend listening to them as well.)

Armored Leadership Daring Leadership
Being a knower and being right Being a learner and getting it right
Avoiding awkward and hard conversations Leaning into hard conversations; vulnerability
Using shame and blame as a management tool Using empathy for yourself and others
Scarcity-based – there’s never enough (fear and uncertainty) We are enough; we have enough
Fitting in Belonging
Leading reactively Leading proactively
Resisting change Accepting and embracing change

Which characteristics do you see yourself possessing as a performer? Or as a teacher? Or have you seen in other performers or teachers? How does that manifest on stage? In the studio?

You can take an assessment at https://daretolead.brenebrown.com/assessment/ to find out what you’re strong at and need to work on. I did. I’d be curious to see how I would have fared if I had taken this test, oh, even 12 years ago. As it is, I’m still working on the elements of living into my values and trust, and am doing better as far as vulnerability and learning to rise (adaptability, which has always been one of my strong suits).

I grew up with people for whom the left hand column was a parenting style. There were many things I rebelled against right off the bat, which is probably why my childhood – and my return to my hometown – was so fraught with tension. And there are some things that colored my own relationships, personally and professionally, as a result.

I have to say that because Dr. Brown has a bit of a Texas accent, I kept hearing the phrase “in daring leadership” as “endearing leadership,” and I think that’s what I’d like to be … a daring (and endearing) leader. As both a performer and a teacher.

Daring or Endearing? You be the judge. 😀
(You might ask why I’m in therapy, and although it’s probably no one’s business, I’ll tell you. It has been one year today since I fell and broke my face open. I have had some terrific PTSD as a result, and that, plus the changes in the world due to COVID and the previous administration, have made me feel less than myself. Or maybe more like myself growing up and less than who I’ve come to be in the last 30 years.)

If you’d like to become a daring performer and want to find a daring (or endearing) teacher, find out how to work with me! I have a few openings for February for the remainder of the school year.

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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