Dimensions of Awareness
It is a matter of common knowledge that we all operate from multiple levels of awareness most of the time. We are aware of ourselves, others around us, our emotions, our beliefs, our environment. Working as a professional role player I am aware of how important it is not only to engage with all of these levels of awareness but, importantly, to connect with meta-awareness, an awareness that has an overview of all of these dimensions and monitors them, constantly.
So, I will be conscious of the role I am portraying, the history, context, attitude, preferences and style of that individual. I will inhabit that person as if they are real for me, identifying with him (or her!) finding that essential sympathy with who they are. I will also be aware of myself in that role and how that constructed character subtly intersects with my own. I will be mindful of the professional environment which that person inhabits, drawing from the understanding I have accessed about the organisational, language, cultural, and environmental nuances that characterise his world, immersing myself in it as if it were my own.
I will be super aware of the individual with whom I am interacting in the role play and how my character is engaging with him or her at multiple levels, the intersecting layers of relationship, emotion, learning, reality and simulation. In particular I will be focusing on safety, ensuring that this experience is one that will positively stretch and build confidence. I will sense the group and their dynamic; their expectations, concerns, anxieties and aspirations, ensuring that their needs are met too, knowing that their vicarious experience of their colleague’s engagement will be impacting on them too.
Typically there is a facilitator present, whose own style, needs, preferences, anxieties, objectives will form part of my awareness. Our relationship is crucial and I will be sensitive to how our interaction is an essential part of the experience of the whole community in this learning space.
Some of my attention will be outside of the room too. Invisible and critical sponsors and stakeholders whose own fortunes may be impacted by the effectiveness and success of what is taking place within. And finally, there is that awareness of my own beliefs and paradigm that inform these multiple dimensions of awareness; a meta awareness that links and frames the others. I endeavour to hold this lightly so that I might learn too, so that I might grow and be that much more aware, next time.
It is tiring work being a professional role player. It is challenging and stretching. And rewarding. And hugely satisfying. And each occasion produces a new combination of these levels of awareness in a story that unfolds unpredictably, moment by moment.