What to Do When Uncertainty is a Certainty. What You Can Learn from Actors and the 3 Rs of Drama:

(The Big) Reveal, Realisation and Reaction and How to Manage Your Present While Creating Your Future

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If the year 2020 taught us anything, it taught us the need for independence, which comes from the ability to be self-reliant, which supports creating our own security, and ultimately our freedom.

What to Do When Uncertainty is a Certainty. What You Can Learn from Actors and the 3 Rs of Drama: (The Big) Reveal, Realisation and Reaction and How to Manage Your Present While Creating Your Future: A Case Study:

The Big Reveal for Jonny, is that uncertainty is a certainty for actors. He learnt that one great job is no guarantee of another one, and when the job ends there’s no knowing how long it will take to land the next.

This revelation came to Jonny early into his WorkLife, and gave him the insight into knowing he had to somehow find independence that would allow him to pursue his passion through the tough times — the times of uncertainty.

So he developed the following criteria of what that needed to be in terms of his WorkLife:

  • Work he undertook needed to be flexible, in allowing him to take time off for auditions (some of which were very last minute), and time off for rehearsals and performances when those auditions were successful;
  • Work he undertook needed to pay the bills, and help to maintain his sanity when those auditions weren’t successful;
  • Work he undertook needed to provide ways to help him hone his craft, by continuously learning, developing and growing as an actor.

In his search for work that met with this criteria, he came across a gig handing out fliers for a local Italian café. It looked easy, was close by, and most importantly wouldn’t interfere with the rest of his schedule. When he had a schedule, that is, of auditions, rehearsals and performances. 

He was actually quite surprised at how much he enjoyed the work. Beyond the money which helped to pay the bills, which in turn helped his sanity, it also provided ways to help him hone his craft, and to continuously learn, develop and grow as an actor. 

This is because it gave him the opportunity to perform in a different way: To get people to take fliers, he had to be likeable, energetic and entertaining. His personality, skills and attributes worked well with those requirements. And of course, it gave him the flexibility he needed to attend auditions, rehearsals and performances. So, his criteria was not only met, it was surpassed, because he also got free coffee and a meal at the end of his gig.

This gig led to another slightly different piece of work. The cafe needed someone bright and bubbly to be their sampler — someone to grab the attention of passers-by and offer them a taste of the delicious coffees that awaited inside. He fitted the bill, complete with a fake Italian accent. Once again, he really enjoyed the work. Once again it fitted in with his criteria that met his wants and needs between acting jobs. Once again, he turned out to be a natural.

Then the cafe offered him a gig at their sister restaurant in another part of town. Because it didn’t meet his criteria of being close by, he suggested a fellow actor fill the gig. His personal recommendation was welcomed because of the good reputation he’d established. Once again, the actor turned out to be a natural, which is when Jonny had his Big Realisation — that creative performers like himself were well suited to this type of work.

Now although Jonny had this Big Realisation, he didn’t act on it immediately. His Big Reaction comes later in his story. This was because he had a Big Acting gig. He had successfully auditioned for a part in a West End production, and was busy rehearsing, ahead of his performance.

Then the pandemic hit, and all theatres closed, bringing his acting gig to an abrupt halt. That same halt affected any café and restaurant gigs he might have fallen back on, as they too were closed.

However, there were a few cafés and restaurants that were able to diversify quickly, and as a result were able to reopen. This was because they began to serve frontline workers with both take outs and deliveries of coffees and meals. Jonny knew it was time for his Big Reaction. These cafes and restaurants needed help in sharing and spreading the word of their new initiative, and Jonny knew he was the right man for the gig.

And it went much further than that, as Jonny began to connect the dots all across London, looking at what he could achieve for himself and his friends. He began to connect cafés and restaurants and his fellow actors, ensuring a win/win for everyone. The cafés’ and restaurants’ initiatives attracted great attention through the creative marketing that the actors brought to their work. Like Jonny they were likeable, energetic and entertaining. And the security of the work allowed the actors to keep the bills paid, and the lights on, during this time of great uncertainty.

Jonny knew he could go even further with this initiative, because he had another Big Realisation, and that was that recruiting actors in this way was a legitimate business model. He already had the supply chain for businesses who wanted to hire, and he had the workers, or partners, as he preferred to think of them, in his fellow actors.

Needing help in managing his present, while creating his future, he reached for the:

Book Wisdom

Of Mission Possible by Ken Blanchard and Terry Waghorn. The following words from the back cover resonated with Jonny: “Managing your present organisation while you’re creating a world-class future — that’s your mission — should you and your organisation choose to accept it.” The book is written as a parable.

Sage Wisdom

“The quickest way to increase dignity, meaning and community in a workplace is to involve people in redesigning their work. That is also the shortest route — in the long run — to lower cost, higher quality, and more satisfied customers.” Marvin Weisbord.

These words from the first chapter spoke to Jonny, as did the following thinking from Blanchard and Waghorn: “We think the only way leaders and working people can effectively enter the future is as partners. People who work must become full participants in the process of determining how their working conditions and the nature of their tasks can be improved in the short run (the present) and the long run (the future).”

In the parable, the manager says to the interviewee: “We’ve learnt over the years that most people in the world of work have more creative energy and brain power than they use on the job. If we can tap into and focus some of this discretionary energy on improving our present operation or designing our future, the payoff can be tremendous. 

Consequently, we say that everyone in our organisation has two jobs. One is his or her ‘day job’ — in some way helping to provide customers with high quality products and services. Second, each person has a ‘transformation job.’ In this capacity you’d be playing on one of two teams. If you join our company, we want to offer you a choice of which of these two teams you wish to join.”

“The first team we call a ‘P Team.’ The P stands for Present. A P Team has the job of revising our present organisation so that we can be more responsive to our customers today. Its focus is on improvement. The second team is an ‘F Team.’ The F stands for Future. The task of an F Team is to create the future by imagining what customers and markets will be like then. Its focus is on innovation. Both teams operate at the same time. We see the work of these two teams as being the only way we can achieve our goal of becoming a world-class organisation. You can help us do that.”

The manager then hands the interviewee a card and says: “To help you decide which team you want to play on, read over this list of questions and see what you think.”


  • Which has more appeal for you — improving what is or creating what isn’t?
  • Do you see yourself as more of a maintenance engineer or an architect?
  • Are you more interested in doing things right or doing the right things?
  • Would you prefer to tune a carburettor or build a rocket ship?
  • Would you rather implement a direction or determine it?
  • Would you rather produce results now or design how they’ll be produced in the future?

The manager goes on to say: “If you prefer the first choice in each question, you would probably want to join a P Team, but if the second choice is more enticing, membership on an F Team might be more attractive. Both teams are vital to our organisation. You can only be on one team, though, so take some time to think it over. If you decide to join us, I’ll need your answer within a few days.”


This is exactly the approach Jonny took in building his team. Drawing from the wisdom, learning and knowledge he gleaned from the book, he posed these questions to his fellow actors, asking them to allow the self-feedback they received through the answers to inform them whether they wanted to join the P Team or the F Team, in their quest to manage their present and create a world-class future together, in navigating the uncertainty, that is a certainty for actors.

Today’s featured book is: Mission Possible by Ken Blanchard and Terry Waghorn.

This story is from my book: How To Self Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively from the School of WorkLife book series.

This story is part of a series of stories of how people took ownership of their WorkLife to: utilise their skills beyond the scope of their industry; gain confidence in a new skills set; create opportunities outside of their main work; make connections and build relationships; generate an additional income stream; build financial security; spread risk; develop independence; and much, much more.

WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:

The intention of the stories I share is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories, you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles, failures and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of www.schoolofworklife.com My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.