Watching TED Talks is a popular pastime at CN&CO. We visit TED.com regularly to clear our heads, have a laugh or get inspired. TED Talks open our minds, spark new ways of thinking and can lead to some very interesting conversations. Each week we pick a favourite and publish it on a Tuesday, because we like how “TED Talk Tuesday” sounds. This week’s was selected by Francois Joubert and here’s why he chose it.

For my first ever blogpost on the CN&CO website, I would like to start off with a confession: I don’t really do TED talks. Being part of a dynamic and inspiring team like CN&CO, I tend to shimmy slowly towards the nearest exit whenever some of my colleagues start unpacking and comparing notes on the latest TED Talks they’ve watched. #sorryboutit

That said, this does not mean I am completely unfamiliar with the TED Talk platform. On the contrary, as a post-grad drama student, I discovered a talk by one of my hands-down favourite dramatic arts & voice scholar, teacher and practitioner: Patsy Rodenburg- or Ma Patsy as we like to call her. Ma Patsy has made a definite imprint on my life, an imprint that I carry with me to this very day. This imprint can be summed up in one simple concept: the second circle.

In the TED talk (check out a short excerpt of it below) Rodenburg immediately introduces the concept of the second circle. Simply put, the second circle can be defined as the act of “…being present, being in the moment, being engaged, being connected”. To Ma Patsy, this is the sweet spot, the centre of ‘reality’ an actor should work towards in conveying the message of the script to the audience truthfully. It’s the act of acknowledging the surroundings, to listen and react to fellow actors and the audience and allow this to determine how the text of the play is truthfully delivered. It’s the process of letting go of the past and the expectations society has predetermined (or as Patsy calls it, the first circle) as well as not worrying about the future and its outcomes (third circle) and just be, in the here and in the now. The second circle is a presence, an energy that is open and moldable by the present, it’s not an energy that is inward and confined (first circle) nor energy that is forced, bombastic and outward (third circle).  

Now, the above is a diluted explanation of Rodenburg’s theory (of which a more detailed outline is available if you click here), and a school of thought that one would probably encounter at any yoga class. Although the idea of ‘second circle living’ is so crucial because, as Rodenburg puts it “…we’re losing our presence. As a society, we’re losing our presence. And, actually, as an actor, performer, sportsperson- if you are not able to get present: you cannot succeed.”

The aforementioned statement made by Rodenburg holds an undeniable truth,  especially in the current ‘posting, tweeting, sharing’ epoch we find ourselves in. Society is besotted with capturing and curating life through the lens and screens of smartphones and then sharing it with the world to validate it. The real-time experience is overshadowed by the total of likes or views you get about the actual experience. In essence, the likes and views become the experience. 

We are so far removed from the second circle, in fact, all three circles are mixed up with each other. By placing a phone in front of your face to capture the present (second circle) creates energy that is inward and self-absorbed (first circle) and is usually done to be shared via a filtered and curated post on social media to force and influence the perceptions people have of your life (third circle).

In my life, I’ve put down the screen a long time ago and I try to practise life within the second circle. Subsequently, this overflowed into business and I’ve learnt how to implement this here as well. After the last few conferences the CN&CO events team have done, I’ve received compliments regarding my work ethic, and I think it’s due to the fact I am present with our clients. I allow my present energy to be positive because this might affect whoever I deal with and possibly change the state of their energy- and it usually does. I do this because others might be in third or first, but being present and having presence allows energies to shift. Living in the present and sharing energies in the second circle truthfully creates meaningful and memorable experiences. And I believe this is why I’ve received compliments regarding my work ethic, and clients approaching me to work with them on new ventures.     

So, if you see a beautiful bunch of roses today- instead of taking pictures and posting the roses- stop and smell the bloomin’ roses. Be present. Be in the moment. Nothing more, just that.

Watch the full TED Talk here.