There have been times, lots of times (and I’m sure I’m not on an island in this case) where I’ve had doubt. Not the doubt that we experience when we ‘doubt whether it will rain’ or ‘doubt whether our sporting team will win’. These are what I call 3rd party doubts. Doubts you have little or no control over even though they can affect you in many ways. Sometimes with minimal or even major effect.

I’m talking about self-doubt. You know, the doubt you have complete control over. This is the doubt that does not need to exist and yet at times, I let it seep into my thoughts almost unabated. It does go along with anxiety. The old favourite ‘What Ifs?’ pop into my head and hence the doubt is exacerbated. It’s not about ‘did I turn off the oven?’ doubt, its about ‘will I give my best performance?’, ‘can I complete the job on time?’ doubt.

Of course the craziness in all of this is, I know I will do a good performance, I know I will complete the job on time and yet there is still lingering doubt. John Patrick Shanley’s ‘DOUBT’ demonstrates this perfectly. Sister Aloysius Beauvier whilst knowing Father Brendan Flynn has acted inappropriately with a boy in his care, has doubt. Why is this?

Just like the play, it is a struggle. A struggle inside my mind. Inside Sister Aloysius’ mind. But as I have grown older, I’ve learnt. I’ve learnt that this is part of being human. Part of the human condition. A parable no less, just as in Shanley’s work. I experienced this as child and even in my early adult years but at that time I wasn’t able to quantify it. But what breaks us free? What enables us to overcome this struggle? This struggle of the mind.

Funnily enough, it is not restricted to the creatives of this world. Elite sports people face this struggle every, single, day. Are they good enough? Can they win?

What absolves this struggle? Novak Djokovic, the world’s number 1 tennis player, recently remarked after winning a match towards his 2016 Australian Open Tennis championship victory, …your convictions must always be bigger than your doubts. No doubt (pardon the pun), the sports psychologists available to him may well have instilled this mantra in his thinking, but nonetheless, the simplicity of this statement provides the grounding for the minimisation and ultimate elimination of self-doubt. If your conviction and commitment to a goal is 100%, there simply will not be doubt.

As creatives, we need to harness conviction. As directors we need to have a clear vision and dare I say it, a clear direction in which we wish to take our creative team. As actors we need to convince ourselves that our very best is good enough if not great. For without conviction there is a tendency to wander, listlessly, to fumble into a maze of our own making and become a semi-conscious participant in a game of lost and found.

It is, after all the 11th law of Karma, that of Patience and Reward. Toiling away cannot be circumvented through wishful thinking. Our rewards are claimed only through patience and persistence, nothing else.

Patience and persistence = conviction.

I think those Buddhists are onto something…

Shane Mallory

Shane is a performer, emcee, host, communicator, creative, mentor and innovative theatre director. He lives in Ipswich, Queensland with his wife Natalie, who are almost 'empty nesters' providing a home for their two daughters' dog and two cats.


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