As you likely know, Hamilton was released recently on Disney+, and it has generated a lot of renewed interest in it. And rightfully so. It’s an incredible production!
There are so many moments in this musical that just enthrall me, but none more than Satisfied. This song starts with a literal rewind on stage that features the amazing Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler. The entire ensemble is replaying the previous scene around her, and you can see every emotion that her character is going through. And, of course, she is singing and rapping what is arguably one of the most difficult songs in musical theater.
The secret? Marking when to breathe
I was stunned by a simple concept she shared in the Los Angeles Times article, “How Hamilton Showstopper Renee Elise Goldsberry Nailed Satisfied” where they ask for her tips on how other performers can “conquer” the song.
Her response? “The trick is marking when to breathe, and then as you’re doing it, just reminding yourself, ‘I have to stop and breathe here, and then I’m good.’”
Here is a performer that sings with such emotion and precision, and her top tip is to breathe? Anyone can breathe!
That didn’t seem like enough to be able to sing and rap the way she does. So I kept reading.
“Sometimes you don’t breathe just because of what happened before; sometimes you need a breath to make it as you continue, sometimes you breathe for how far you have to go, how far ahead there still is. I think that’s also the bigger life lesson: recognize when you need to stop and breathe.”
Take a break before you need one
One of the practices of being Thoughtfully Fit is STILLNESS, or quieting the mind. It is based on extensive research that proves that taking breaks leads to higher productivity. When you’re so busy you can’t even think, there’s value in taking a breath to get focused on what needs to get done.
And yet, I still hesitate to take breaks. Admittedly, I’m most likely to wait to take a break until my mind just isn’t working anymore. At that point, it’s not a break as much as total exhaustion, and just needing to be done for the day.
And I know I’m not alone.
I’m hearing from a lot of clients who are going non-stop. There are so many new problems that leaders need to solve right now. Teams are facing challenges that they haven’t seen before. People are exhausted.
I think that’s why this Hamilton article struck such a chord with me. Renee Elise Goldberry doesn’t perform without intentionally planning every point in the song where she’s going to stop to breathe. She doesn’t wait to breathe until she has to because she’s out of air.
She plans her breathing for everything coming ahead.
Three tips to reach peak performance
So if breathing is important – not only to recover, but to reach peak performance – how can you plan to take that break?
- Schedule it. Mark out your breaks so you know when they are coming. Start at five minutes if you need to. And then treat them as you would any other important commitment in your calendar. Don’t double book!
- Embrace it. Breaks are not a luxury. If your inner critic starts to tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t take a break, remind yourself that you are preparing for what’s coming ahead. Don’t ignore it!
- Normalize it. Talk to your team about how you can support each other in finding times to take a break. You can also consider how your team can take a collective breath as a group. Don’t keep this secret to yourself!
For my team, we are very intentional about taking breaks. These breaks might be as simple as grabbing lunch as a team (back when we could) or now, going for a socially distanced walk. We have also pampered ourselves at Sundara Spa and traveled to the Grand Teton mountains in Jackson Hole for an extended weekend. And a couple years ago, we went to Chicago to see Hamilton for a fun break!
Are breaks good for team morale? Absolutely. So are the small moments when you find time to just take a breath. Each time we take a collective breath, we are better prepared for what’s coming ahead on the calendar.
Engage your core
Ultimately, it always comes back to engaging your core: what do you control and what choices do you have. You control whether or not you find time in your day for a break. Explore the choices for what that break could look like, and make it work for you.
This article reinforced that my team and I will continue to plan for – and take – regular breaks! In the meantime, I’ll keep looking for small opportunities to simply plan to take a breath.
What will you do to plan for a break, or even just a breath?
P.S Registration is now open for Thoughtfully Fit Leadership: Increase Your Impact. And the great news is, you don’t need to live in Madison to attend. For the first time, it’s 100% virtual! Sign up by July 24 for a $250 discount and a bonus laser coaching session. Learn more here.
Please click below for my free gift to you.
This resource will provide you with 9 steps to build the resilience and grit necessary to overcome your obstacles and be successful!