I’m a sucker for a great speech; preferably the kind of speech typically seen in the movies before an impossible feat. I’m thinking here “The game of inches” from any given Sunday or Henry the 5ths’ “St Crispin’s Day.” Never mind that these came from multimillion-dollar films or the greatest writer in the English language … that was my gold standard!
Since speeches like that didn’t seem to pop out of me at a snap of a finger, I figured that the next best thing I can do is prepare … and over prepare I did! Perhaps it’s the computer science major in me, but much like I piece of software code, I thought that given enough time I could fabricate myself into a universal speaking machine. As well-intentioned as this effort was, among many other things, I found myself so focused on what would make me sound smart that I totally missed out on what my audience wanted … kind of an important thing when your intention is to create a genuine connection:)
Recently as I started to dig deeper, I came to the realization that whenever I acted at my best, it was always on the spur of the movement. Never thinking, just being. Kind of like handing the reigns over from brain to my soul. A very rare, but always unforgettable experience. Oh, and by the way, it is a realm where concepts like agenda just simply don’t exist.
I meditate, do yoga, and heck, recently I even started doing headstands which supposedly enhance creativity! While all of the above surely help, they somehow don’t seem to be enough to get me to that place more often.
Then, about a few months ago, probably the biggest frontier of my current fears presented itself in my mailbox … an invite to an Improv Meet Up. In an instant, I knew exactly what had to be done…
Initially, I did great. I was volunteering, jumping in … so proud of myself!
However, in our second meeting when we graduated from warm up exercises to scenes, my logical brain came back with vengeance. I froze. I froze and I stepped aside, because I was trying to come up with something fully baked, ideally perfect and modular. In other words I wanted to be in full control instead of following the fundamental rule of Improv which is bring a brick, not a Cathedral. My perfection gremlin told me I was done. I gave it my best shot, but it’s just not for me.
Ironically, sometimes a weakness can also very much work in your favor. Just as my bruised ego wanted me to quit, it also didn’t want me to admit to my co-workers and friends that I actually did so. You see, after the first meetup I talked a big game to everyone and their mother about my recent Improv adventure; I was literally between a rock and a hard place:)
Luckily, both of the organizers reached out to me with words of encouragement, which broke through my catch 22 stalemate.
I recalled from a creativity class I took at the Jung Center that whenever stuck, lower the bar. That’s exactly what I did when I came back. I reframed my success to be defined by my participation alone; anything above that would be pure icing on the cake.
As for my old, over-logical self, I wrote this blog post, which I view as burning my “Golden Bridge” that Sun Tzu recommended cultivating as a temptation for your enemy to retreat through when the fighting gets tough.
Being in the moment … I know you are within reach and I just acquired one more venue that will help us meet more often!
So how often do you find yourself acting in the moment? How does it feel? How can you get there more often?
P.S. I you are ever in the Woodlands area, I’d love to see you at the Improv Skills for Everyday Life