Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Say what they say, do what they do. Think how they think, feel how they feel. It may give you a new perspective, or it may change you.
I had the opportunity to do just that, twice in 2017. I became someone else.
In August, I transformed myself into Julian Marsh, a highly successful, arrogant, and very demanding Broadway show director in the musical, 42nd Street. I prefer to think that Mr. Marsh has a soft place in his heart too, so my version of him had one, no doubt.
In November, I transformed into Don Quixote, a dauntless knight who sallies forth into the world to right all wrongs, in the musical, Man of La Mancha. Don Quixote is an idealist who sees the best in people and who sees the good in every situation. He is noble and virtuous, gracious and merciful, compassionate and kind.
Quixote emerges to sally forth into the world in Man of La Mancha.
Photo credit: Paul Thomas, paulonline.com
Theatre is one of my passions. It’s a passion that helps me at Cisco too, because putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is the practice of empathy. Nowhere is there a better opportunity to practice empathy than on the stage.
As a manager at Cisco, it helps me understand the people around me, how we are all interdependent, and how we work together best. It’s also really nice to be able to share my talent and my theatre experiences with my Cisco colleagues. It gives them a glimpse into my life outside of work, and tells them a little bit more about me as an individual. It also helps me to be myself, and understand myself a little bit better. And it’s the ultimate crash course in public speaking!
Bring your passions to work at Cisco. We’re hiring. Apply now.
Why do I do this? I have three reasons. You’ll find some very simple and conflicting career advice these days. Some people will tell you to follow your passion, others will tell you to go find it in your work. At Cisco, we are fond of saying, why not do both? Yes, find your passion at work. Always be on the lookout for what interests and excites you, and focus on that. Get really good at it, and you will grow and create great opportunities for yourself. I perform because it hones my ability to empathize and speak in front of an audience – skills I often use as a manager at Cisco.
Julian Marsh lectures his cast in 42nd Street.
Photo Credit: Anders Halvorsen
The second reason I perform is pure enjoyment. I love to act and sing, and I play the piano. Music to me is the elixir of life. I can’t live without it. I’ll encourage anyone to do what they love – you don’t need to get paid to do it if it makes you happy. Many working professionals like to golf, run, workout, knit, volunteer for a charity, sing, dance, and many other very worthwhile and relaxing things. Dive into your personal passion and enjoy it. It calms your soul.
The third reason I do musical theatre is for my family. Five of my six children have performed in plays and musicals. One of my proudest moments was watching my four oldest perform in a play together. Many times, I have had the thrill of performing with one or more of them as well. My youngest, Thomas, has what the medical profession calls intellectual disabilities. I call Thomas “specially-abled.” He may have trouble with reading and math, but he has no trouble singing. Thomas was my singing buddy during 42nd Street and Man of La Mancha. He knows all the songs and happily sang through them with me as I prepared for my performances. We still sing them today.
Find your passion, yes. Live your passion, yes. Most importantly, be yourself. Bring your passion to work. I am determined to be me at Cisco. You should too. We are all in this together.