Konstantin Stansilavski is not a name you hear too often when it comes to learning, development, talent or professional training – but it should be!
Stanislavski was an acclaimed character actor from Russia who went on to build a career as one of the world’s eminent theatre directors before his death in 1938. But Stanislavski is remembered in the world of performance less for his many personal achievements and more for the system he left behind.
That system has passed through several incarnations into what today we refer to asmethod acting, where performers spend time genuinely living the lives, experiences or vocations of their characters before they portray them.
By way of example, Billy Bob Thornton put crushed glass in his shoes to perfect the trademark shuffle of his character Karl in the 1996 classic Sling Blade … and was nominated for an Oscar. That’s commitment!
The Stanislavski System is based on a simple methodology that it’s founder unpacked when he said “What is difficult becomes habitual, what is habitual becomes easy, what is easy is beautiful.”
Stanislavski’s challenge to us is in asking why we are so reticent to do something difficult when mere persistence through said difficulty can produce such brilliance. He’s asking why we’d let the convenience of our current practices prevent us from doing something of genuine excellence.
Yet, we continue to learn the same ways in the forlorn hope of new beauty. We present powerpoint presentations, we measure attendance, we wish for applause. What if we made learning differently our next self-imposed difficulty? What if we persisted through a higher level of challenge, expectation and thought leadership for a while? What might we get?