I renamed my long-time "improv-based team building" workshop to the "You're a Genius" workshop. It's fun to see folks get a little weirded-out by the title, but also perked up. What if you are a genius and why do I keep insisting that you are?
Well, shoot, you are a genius...and so is everyone else. The origin of the word "genius" connotes an innate ability, something you were born with. As I like to say, I believe we all have a well of creativity inside of us. It is infinite. You can not dry it up. It is always available to you (unless you need a snack or a nap). It is unique to you. And, the world needs to hear it.
Am I really all that darn creative?
Some people throw pots, some people organize closets, some people cook amazing dinners. There are many forms of creativity. But, technically, even powering through your morning which includes unexpected emails, missing lunch meat, detours on the road, and bedhead means you handle the unexpected, constantly. Where do you get those solutions, like a spritz of water and some hair gel or quick stop somewhere with both coffee and a salad for your lunch? You constantly have solutions and ideas flowing to you. Where do they come from?
Okay, don't think about that too hard or things will get real weird and deep for many of us but let's just focus on this constant flow. Constant! You have what you need in every moment to solve your situation, including maybe listening to what someone else is suggesting. You're still engaging and deciding.
In my "You're a Genius" workshop we work that vein of creative flow, highlighting it over and over. You'll play game after game after fun-fun game that gets you not only feeling your own creative flow but acknowledging and building on others. Shazaam! That's right. It's that amazing.
The games are designed so there's no sense of performance, acting alone in front of the crowd, or winner-versus-loser energy. The games rely upon everyone contributing and working together, their geniuses melding like molten gold into swirl into a formation of beauty and pure shine. Or, something like that.
I usually spend about 90 minutes with a group. That's enough time to take them through the following phases:
1. I have no idea why I'm here. My work/team/friends have made me show up here and I'm being a good sport by hoping it will be pleasant and go quickly.
2. Okay, this reminds me a bit of recess in third grade. I think it's fun but what's the point?
3. Hey, I see what she's doing here. All of these lessons from the games relate to the myriad ways we're all struggling to get along at work. Hmmm...
4. I WANT TO PLAY MORE GAMES!!!!
There are so many games. Sooooooo many. They're designed to bring out this creative flow in each participant by having general qualities of:
1. Everyone takes a turn but they don't know when or how their turn is coming so they have to be ready to be surprised and bring their creative heat to keep the game moving along.
2. There is no real end point or goal other than collaboration. It's that "how long can we keep this balloon off the floor" type game but with our minds. The games are safe for people of all physical abilities.
3. They're structured so people know exactly what they need to do and their role is well within their reach if they simply trust themselves and allow that wonderful thought they're having to pop out of their mouth.
For example, we play "Let's Go on an Adventure" where each person contributes one line in a story of an adventure, starting it with "Yes, and..." "Yes, and we'll go to Tahiti!" "Yes, and we'll drink frothy drinks with umbrellas." "Yes, and we'll photograph our beautiful selves to post on Instagram." "Yes, and we'll be noticed by travel magazines and paid to take more photos." And on it goes! You get the idea. FUN! It's purely joyful and silly and simple and requires both listening and contributing.
Trusting the genius
Trust yourself to know if your team or family is in the mood for some fun and bonding. That's a creative thought you're having. And, if so, please include the sort of games I'm talking about that encourage recognizing their innate creativity, over and over again. I have videos on YouTube explaining some of the ones I use. Because, once a person recognizes that they have this tremendous creative font - unending, ever-ready, unique to them, and so appropriate and needed in the world - they'll approach every situation with more confidence and optimism. Not just optimism in their own capacity, but a realization that everyone around them is a genius as well and that means very great things are possible when we all work together - as geniuses since we're all geniuses.
I received a lovely text today. It said:
"IM SO NERVOUS for the show tonight. Any pointers?!?!"
It was music to my ears. This would be yet another friend who is putting herself on stage for the first time to tell jokes to the public. K does her first standup set tonight and I consider my coven of comediennes one stronger.
Here is some of the advice I gave her that I have now given many times to those facing an audience:
1. You are giving a gift. I was taught as a Catholic, sin-avoidant child that getting in front of people to entertain them was selfish or just plain odd. As I began to do it more, I came to a very different conclusion. Taking the time, effort, and bravery to put oneself in front of others for the purpose of teaching and entertaining them is giving a gift. They can accept and listen if they want to. But, you're the bomb for putting it out there. The world needs entertainers and teachers.
2. Breathe. If you can tell yourself "Breathe" every time your panic rises, then breathe just a little deeper, you're doing a good thing. It will help and it will distract you in a positive way.
3. Know that it will be over soon. Finishing is your goal. This event is only small blip in the epic movie that is your life. Like past final exams, tooth extractions, and plane flights in the middle seat, this too shall pass and you shall be wiser and more aware of who you are and what you're capable of for having done it. In essence, you'll be a more interesting person. Good work!
4. Everyone is rooting for you. New performers often think of the audience as a terrifying, life-sucking force. That can be true if they're drunk, loud, and want to battle. But, I find that the audience is often wishing for you to do your very, very best. They want to be entertained. They want to be pleasantly surprised, for you to delight them with your unique style of humor and one-of-a-kind thoughts. They'll happily accept anything close to good and, beyond that, they're dazzled.
5. Never ever compare yourself. It's okay to learn from others and pick up tricks and tips. But, if you feel that someone did a great job, that in no way diminishes your ability to do a great job. Every performer has a style, a stamp, a flavor, edge, unique vibe. Your only purpose is to hone and develop your own. I like to play music, bring people on stage to play games with me, and talk to the audience like we're just all having a big chat at the dinner table. Those are aspects of my style that I've figured out over time. Just do things and see what you like. It's all good. It's all learning.
That's it for now. There are more things I can share someday. These would be practical things to do when you're in front of a crowd, like watch the pace of your speech, don't drink too much until you're done-done, keep your posture upright, look side to side, notice if the energy is dropping and do something about it (which might be just acknowledging that fact out loud, "You guys getting sleepy?"), thank the emcee, compliment the staff of the event you're a part of, and much more. I'll cover those in another post.
For now, it's time to go to the show. I'll try to get a pic with K tonight to post here.