I hear often that people are afraid of stepping outside of their integrity and authenticity in their career change process. The idea of talking about your professional story and skills, angled toward where you're headed instead of where you've been feels dishonest, or "like a used car salesman."
This reframing, rebranding or "creative finagling," as I call it, is a big part of my work with clients. I believe every single person already has everything they need inside of them to get where they want to be. It's just a matter of being proactive about noticing what's already there, and creative in our manner of exploring new applications.
Here's the thing: I BELIEVE IN INTEGRITY. I believe in honoring every step of your journey by recognizing the full scope of what it was, and what it offered you, beyond just what's apparent on the surface. I believe in empowering people to start their process of reinvention as soon as they realize it's in their highest good... not as soon as they've become an expert in the whatever is next.
If you're motivated to do something different, but you're feeling stuck or confused about how to reframe your skills, this is my advice:
Beginning to tell a new story about our professional identity can often cause imposter syndrome. But that's not because you're out of integrity! It's because you're also still getting to know this next version of yourself.
What you're feeling is not dishonesty, it's unfamiliarity.
The best way to beat unfamiliarity is to get familiar! Get to know yourself as the person you're becoming. The reality is that you're still you - you're just aligning your existing passions, skills and resources behind a new vision.
You've got a lot to offer, and you don't have to let fear and self doubt keep you small, or keep you in a situation that's not serving the highest expression of YOU.
"The lights will go down, and when they come back up everything you see will be **improvised!**"
This weekend, I performed with a team who starts their shows this way. It's unique, because many improv troupes start off with an audience suggestion of some type. But this team dips the lights, and then creates an entirely improvised show upon the re-illumination of the stage.
I love this. As an art form, and as a metaphor to start the day. The lights went down, and now they've come back up. Everything that's about to happen will be all made up!
You get to decide what will happen today - even in the midst of meetings you don't want to be in, even in the midst of co-workers who don't approach the job the same way as you, even in the midst of managers who include leadership quotes in the signature of their email, but actively disregard the sentiment entirely. You still get to decide!
You get to participate in the magic of creating your day. I chose the image in the header of this article, because it filled me with the exact feeling I have when I see or get to participate in really magical improv. That feeling that's like "HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?! -- I'm so glad that I'm HERE in this moment of all the places I could have been right now."
What would it be like if that same sense of wonder rose in our hearts right along with the sunrise every morning?
The things is - I know from personal experience, and from the shared experiences of those in my coaching programs - how incredibly difficult it is to embrace that mindset when you feel powerless and overwhelmed at work.
It feels similar to the experience of trying to save a rough set; when the audience is quiet, and you can feel their boredom, judgement and regret for having invested $12 dollars in this experience.
I get it. But here's the deal: in both situations, your mindset is the most important determining factor in what your experience will be.
The story you tell yourself about what's happening around you will either allow you to participate in a way that creates magic, or allow you to participate in a way that creates misery. Every thought. Every email. Every re-telling of another's professional misstep. We're either stepping closer to or further from our desired experience.
SO -- if you're hoping to step into something magical at work today; something that exceeds your expectations in unthinkable (and positive!) ways, here are some mindset shifts to help you improvise in that manner:
The lights went down, and they came back up - and EVERYTHING that's happening is all made up. You can participate accordingly, if you want to.
You can experiment with new character work if you want to. You can hang back and let the scene develop without you if you want (<-- this is 100% a fantastic choice much of the time, contrary to what my fellow A-types are tempted to believe). If you WANT to... you get to do the most courageous improv you've ever done today.
It's not an obligation! It's an invitation.
I'm not interested in generating content that leads to self-judgement. I'm 100% interested in generating content that leads to greater self-discovery and empowerment.
We are improvising all day long, and we have been since our earliest, pre-verbal impulses to interact with other humans. This thing we're doing is completely made up, and we help direct the overall experience with every single contribution.It's a new day. It's new scene. The magic will be happening whether or not you realize it... but it's SO MUCH MORE FUN to realize it.
Should we talk? If you're feeling stuck in your career, and you'd like to harness the mindful improv, agile creative process to find more confidence and clarity about your next steps, there's room for you on my calendar!
An excerpt from The Leap Kit™ - the first move isn't necessarily a quantum leap of faith out of your current job... It's a leap out of the SHAME, RESENTMENT and NEGATIVITY surrounding your current job.
Every time we say the words "I hate my job." Or allow our mind to be taken from our current setting to an anger filled conversation at work, we are fortifying a narrative of passive hopelessness. True freedom is in the HERE AND NOW. ❤️🌟🙌 Commit to what's already in your scene, and learn to view it as a push in the direction of what you desire.
Realize that the coworkers in your life with whom you struggle to collaborate, and the boss that is micromanaging and condescending -- they are gifts from the Universe! They are keeping you on your journey rather than allowing you to get overly comfortable in a place that's not serving your highest good.
If you feel a pull into something bigger, something greater, something more life affirming... then recognize that all around you are gifts and tools and resources helping you into that vision. What you sense initially as frustrating and negative can also be viewed as a stepping stone into more clarity about what you DO want.
So if you're looking to make a big change, and you're not sure of the next right step - start by releasing every bit of negativity around your current work situation. Negativity breeds status quo; optimism breeds solution finding!
Get access to The Leap Kit™ here: www.andbeyondimprov.thinkific.com/courses/the-leap-kit
I'm encouraging everyone I know to join me in starting off 2019 with a daily intentional forgiveness exercise.
It's hard work, but it's an essential component to living a life filled with peace, hope and and purpose. Our ability to create and receive good stuff in life is directly tied to our ability to stay in the Yes And/ creative headspace, which is directly tied to our ability to forgive ourselves and the people around us
Forgiveness is the most important effort in creating a life we feel good living. It's both difficult AND possible :)
You can sign up for the 2019 POWER THROUGH FORGIVENESS challenge here:
Every morning in January, you'll get notes of encouragement and inspiration, forgiveness mantras, and mindful improv tips for pushing through the tough stuff that comes up as you do the work. You can also join the Facebook group where we'll share our experiences: the hard stuff and the successes.
If you're an entrepreneur, or you're in the process of a big career shift, Thanksgiving can feel like ground zero for self doubt and soul crushing anxiety and resentment. My advice? Bring a pie instead of a cathedral. :)
This advice comes from the improv saying Bring a Brick, not a Cathedral, or - don't forget to collaborate! As a coach and consultant, I've become fond of using this metaphor in advance of tricky conversations to remind my clients not to bring more than their share into the room. It's your job to enter a conversation with your truth - with your offering... not build the whole narrative on your own.
Confrontation cathedrals can include:
And the same goes for Thanksgiving cathedrals! The assumption that your scene partners (your family) are judging, undermining, dis-believing, pitying, etc instead of simply trying to collaborate with perhaps not ALL of the most helpful tools is a CATHEDRAL.
Remember that you don't know what they're thinking. It's easy to think you're reading the room, and realize that you're ultimately just reading your inner narrative of self judgement and fear.
The antidote for this is to enter in full alignment.This means that you're in a headspace of equal faith/trust in yourself, your scene partner and the agile creative process (you bring a brick, your scene partner brings a brick, you listen and add something simple and specific with authenticity. Boiled down: listen, build, repeat.)
You are enough. You are on the right path. You are making good choices for your career and for your family. You do not need Uncle Frank's validation, my friend.
Also, remember that for all you know, the silence and blank stares are simply a biproduct of absorbing unfamiliar information. Perhaps your willingness to invest in yourself and your future is raising the tide for everyone. I know from personal experience that stepping out in faith over fear creates a ripple effect that touches people you may never expect.
Your job is to listen to your intuition, build what you believe in and trust the process.
This blog post is one of the tip's from this week's LinkedIn series Quit or Confront. Every day this week, I've been posting on LinkedIn about the mindful improv perspectives that can be helpful for those of you considering leaving your job, reinventing your career entirely, or staying at a job knowing that confrontation is in store.
In improv, everything you say to your scene partner is offered as a gift. You're not trying to steal the show, or "save the scene" - you're simply contributing, and supporting your scene partner through the offerings of new information, a new perspective and an authentic response.
If your current evaluation of your situation is that a confrontation is in order, it's especially important to go into that conversation remembering that the "confrontee" is your trusted and respected scene partner. (If you don't trust your scene partner, I urge you to go back to Day #1's piece of advice about re-evaluating your cons list, and exploring those items through a lens of curiosity. Trust is a non-negotiable part of improv and effective workplace dynamic.)
Confrontation is a gift, just like everything else you offer your scene partner. It's a gift of information. It's a vote of confidence that the situation can improve. It's an investment in a relationship. Where workplace confrontation often goes off the rails is when it starts tiptoeing into the realm of intervention or attack.
This happens at the hands of well-meaning, passionate people all the time. What causes this is when reactive anger clouds curiosity -- when the confronter has already made up his mind about the state of the union, and enters the scene with an ultimatum ("This needs to change, or else...") or a sense of self-righteous heroism ("I'm here to save the day!"). It's understandable! Of course you think you're right. If you didn't think you were right, you'd have a different opinion.
It's easy to accidentally start an intervention or an attack when you offer difficult feedback. This is something I care a lot about - I understand completely the good intentions of those who often bulldoze, avoid or evangelize their agenda in confrontation. In the video, I mention the online class I created that teaches 6 weeks worth of improv skills for improving outcomes in workplace confrontation. It's called The Art of Confrontation™, and there's a spot for you if it behooves you to build skill in this area.
In the mean time, there are three sub-points to helping confrontation take on a more natural feeling of being a gift:
1) Set aside "correctness" and pick up curiosity instead. In improv we bring a brick instead of a cathedral; we build whatever it's going to be alongside our scene partner. If you walk into your confrontation with a cathedral instead of one offering - you'll crush your scene partner under the weight of your preconceived notions and expectations.
2) All you can need from a confrontation is more information. You need to KNOW that you're okay, and that your safety and success as a professional are not tied to the outcome of that conversation. If you need a full scale culture change, or even just validation or an apology - you could be sorely disappointed. Confrontation is not the tool that does that -- confrontation is one tool in a larger process of intervention that may yield some of those results.
3) Forgiveness is a pre-requisite for confrontation. Walking into a hard conversation already having forgiven the others involved and yourself allows you to step into the room in full alignment; in full knowing that you are enough and so are your scene partners.
I'll be back tomorrow with another mindful improv tip as you consider your next professional steps. This is a link where you can register for a recap of all 5 tips for determining your next steps. The recap will be sent out on Saturday morning.
We live in divided times, friends. Many of us are doing our best to advocate for what we believe in, and create a safer, more peaceful world. In my experience as an improviser, there are several skills and rules of improv that are hugely meaningful when applied to our peacemaking strategies - especially when it comes to differences in political or religious convictions. There are 10 to be exact! I hope these skills are as impactful in your bridge-building efforts as they have been in mine.
1. Treat your scene partner as a creative genius. If you decide to believe that someone is a creative genius, even if they might not being showing up like that in a specific moment, treat them like it! Believe that there is a reason they are on your team and that they have good ideas to bring to the table!
2. Listen with full attention. Don't just wait for your turn to talk. You might disagree with what they are saying, but truly listen!
3. Choose Curiosity over Judgement. When we are authentically curious about what values might be behind what someone believes, we might be able to find some common ground with someone. If we approach a confrontation with the interest of changing someone's opinion, we aren't going to have a productive conversation. Say your thoughts through a lens of curiosity, so you can really explore on a deeper level your common values with this person.
4. Your obligation is to yourself and your scene partner - not the audience. It's easy to get discouraged on stage if a joke doesn't land well with the audience. Sometimes we find ourselves in a place where we'd do anything for a laugh. In that moment, what we're really searching for is approval. But you have to stay true to yourself. When talking about politics and beliefs, it's okay to believe in something that might not necessarily get applause or recognition from the people around you. Be honest about what feels true to you.
5. It's safe to do your part and let your scene partners do their part. You can't be every character in a scene. Each person on a team has a role to play, and sometimes in life, it's easy to try and do someone else's part - especially if they're doing something in a way that might not necessarily be how you would. It's okay to not intervene in those times. Do your part and let your scene partner do theirs.
6. Silence is not an emergency. It's natural to want to fill in those gaps of silence during a scene, but it's so important to remember that silence plays an important role in comedy! It can help with the timing of a joke, or give the audience time to process the scene. Silence has a role to play in confrontations, too. If we're continuing to pile on information in a confrontation, we could derail all the good work we've been doing in that confrontation. Let silence do it's job; give people time to process what you're saying before piling on new information.
7. You're not always needed on stage. It's okay to wait backstage for a few minutes while your scene partners work through something together on stage. Just because they might be responding to an audience suggestion differently than what you may have had in mind, that doesn't mean your intervention is needed. If you don't want or need to be involved in something, don't be.
8. There is always a gift. In improv, we treat everything like a gift. Even a distraction like someone's cell phone going off during a skit or an unanticipated tech issue. You might want to feel frustrated in times when things don't go as planned, but don't miss the gift in that situation! There is ALWAYS a way forward if we stay in the spirit of play, which I can discuss in a future post :)
9. You don't need permission to edit a scene. Editing a scene means ending it temporarily. It doesn't mean you'll never go back to those characters or ideas; you can always go back to it later. Editing the scene, then moving on to something else, is actually a great way to build on those ideas in the long run. Relationship building goes the same way - you can't build a relationship overnight. Sometimes, you need to edit a scene, or pause a conversation in order to build a healthy relationship in the long run.
10. You don't have to be an expert to contribute. Some people hold themselves back from improv because they feel they aren't as funny as Tina Fey or Steve Carrell. But what those people have forgotten is that what they have to contribute is already enough. Don't ever feel like because you're not an expert at something you shouldn't give it a try. You have a unique set of experiences to bring to the table - as does your scene partner. Bring what you've got! Build when it's your turn, listen when it's your scene partner's and trust that something awesome will come from it. That's the secret to building relationships, too: a listen-build cycle built on honest, clarity, and kindness.
It's no secret that our political climate is very divisive right now; there are a lot of very personal issues being debated. In the midst of our disagreement, there’s still a way forward for good, productive dialogue if we can make use of these skills off stage.
This morning I was asked the question (paraphrasing here) “How do I know if this <keeping situation anonymous> is the real deal, or if this is one more frustrating step that I’ll ultimately need to learn from and leave behind?" Boy have I been there in life - personally and professionally! Maybe you have too?
My answer in short was this: Can both things/people involved move toward health, whole-heartedness and authenticity at the same time?
If both can be doing what they need to be doing to be whole, healthy and REAL… then it’s the real deal. But if there's only room for one person to move toward health and wholeness... then it may be time for a "scene edit," as we say in improv.
Here’s the really good news about things that are “the real deal.” You don’t have to treat them with kid gloves. Things that are the real deal can handle:
Relationships, places, opportunities that are a healthy, viable, longterm match can accommodate what it takes to thrive and blossom as the highest expression of yourself.
I have an #unpopularopinion when it comes to commitment in general. I don’t believe in promising forever… in any context.
First of all, since I don’t know the future and have no control over other people’s actions, I have a fundamental gripe with making promises that are outside of my control to fulfill. But secondly, I believe we are all improvising all the time — we’re all improvisers. And the job of an improviser is two fold:
—> contribute with your full attention, full authenticity and full creative power to the current scene
—> notice when it’s time to edit, and don’t belabor the point. When a scene is done, let it be done.
This sounds harsher than it is in practice. Editing a scene **DOESN’T MEAN** that the relationships created, the information gained, or the themes established won’t show up somewhere else in the show… it’s just an awareness that this is done for now, and it is best served when it is edited at a high point and can be recalled favorably by the audience and the others on the team. If we want those characters/themes etc to make it to the next beats, we can’t exhaust their potential by prolonging the inevitable edit.
Perhaps you’re already reading the parallels here.
I don’t like the idea of signing away - either in reality or simply in believed reality - our ability to determine that a scene must be edited. I especially don’t like it if the reason we’re not editing is out of fear that letting go means giving up on the future potential for something beautiful to be created.
It’s not my experience that letting go, ending a relationship, leaving a job, etc means the END of what can be beautiful in that situation. Quite the contrary, actually.
I’ve made it my life’s MISSION to be an improviser that believes in the collaborative power of YES, AND and NO THANK YOU equally.
I have worked very hard to cultivate a true sense of permission to say “no” when that is what brings me the most peace and freedom.
And guess what — I’ve held on to something beautiful every time. I believe those beautiful things would have been sacrificed had I not been willing to say “Nope, I’m done now.”
Because, when we exhaust a scene, we lose sight of what made it wonderful. We only remember the feelings of shame, frustration and murderous rage (if you’re dramatic like me!) that were coursing through our bodies when we finally did leave.
My intention for writing this is to give you the emotional perseverance to hang in there if you’re in a “hard but good” patch of something that is healthy… and the courage and self compassion to **edit the scene** if you’re realizing that is what will cultivate the most peace and freedom.
Living abundantly with our whole hearts is a process of constantly asking “Does it bring me to life to keep building here, or is it someone else’s turn to build?” When I'm asking that question, the answer usually lies in looking at the long term and determining if there's room for me thriving to my fullest potential or not. The answer to that question gives me all the clarity I need.
Love and light friends,
On Monday, I went LIVE on Facebook and shared some thoughts about the role our imaginations play in how we prepare for and recover from confrontation. The replay and summary are below!
I also announced my FREE webinar on Thursday, September 27th at 12:15 PM. This 30-minute webinar is all about the process of recovering from conflict. Whether you've been confronted or have been the one to confront someone else, the way you rebound off of a hard conversation determines the level of collaboration and performance you can expect from yourself and the other person.
If we're not careful, the way we rebound could undermine all the good stuff we built in the confrontation itself. These are the action steps for coming back stronger than ever. I'm excited to share them with you!
Sign up here!
Facebook Live Recap
If you missed me Monday on Facebook LIVE check the replay below!
Here's the recap:
Our imaginations are our tickets to the future.
We use our imaginations in improv to do what we call "bringing a brick, not a cathedral." When you and your scene partner bring just one brick to the scene, you have the opportunity to build something great!
This idea can also help us prepare for and cope with conflict at work! It's easy for our minds to focus on one negative action from a coworker and apply that negativity to that person as a whole. But that's building a Cathedral with just one brick, and that's not an authentic reflection of who that person is. Build a bridge, not a cathedral.
We can use our imaginations to build a bridge to this person. One route to this bridge is to imagine ways that we are similar to this coworker. I often imagine someone I'm having a confrontation with calling their moms to check in on them or reading their kids stories before bed. Picturing them doing these activities that I also do helps me see them as a whole human, instead of just my negative experience with that person.
This process comes from one of my favorite poems, "Human Family" by Maya Angelou. She repeats in her final stanza, "We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike". Imagining the ways we are more alike with people we have confrontations with helps us to build a bridge to that person.
Our imaginations are our tickets to the future. Make sure it's a ticket to somewhere we want to be.
Just Days Remain for Early Bird Registration!
If you haven't heard, &Beyond is launching our first ever online class called The Art of Confrontation™. It's a 6-week online class designed to meet the needs of people looking to have a more peaceful office culture with improved communication and collaboration between team members in their office. You can find more information and enroll here! Register before October 1st to get Earlybird pricing ($50 off!).
Group licenses are also available - set up a time to talk with me if you're interested in that.
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On Monday, I went LIVE on facebook where I talked about the improv saying, “everything is a gift”. If you missed it, check out the replay below.
Here's the recap:
I’ve been reflecting lately on an important improv saying: “everything is a gift.”
Notice the expression does NOT say, “there are gifts.”
EVERYTHING, friends. Everything is a gift.
Even explosions of tension and confrontation are gifts, despite the fact that we often refer to those moments as “the straw that broke the camel’s back”... or something unmentionable hitting the fan. ;)
We use these expressions to talk about a breaking point before a confrontation. But if we truly believe everything is a gift, let's help ourselves with some better imagery for that experience. I'd like to offer this:
the last strike on a piñata.
When that final strike causes the piñata to break, little gifts fall for everyone to enjoy. Good things come from productive confrontations, even if there is tension and stress leading up to it!
This metaphor also leads to the observation that once the piñata breaks, the kids don't all leave with the same thing! There are many different opportunities that fall out of a confrontation piñata - you might not get the same one as someone else, but BOTH are gifts.
It's noteworthy that the exact same gift can feel like a treasure or a weapon depending on whether or not we found it or someone else is trying to give it to us. When we do the work ourselves and find the gift in the middle of our difficult situation - it feels like a treasure. But the same "treasure" can feel horrible to hear from someone else depending on the situation.
Sometimes the confrontation piñata gives us the opportunity to learn something very specific about ourselves, or identify a way in which our own attitudes, believes and behaviors must change. Those gifts are especially hard to receive from someone else.
This is why making a habit of self reflection is so important. The best note is a note you can give yourself, as we say in improv. If we're not doing the work - if we're struggling through a tense, frustrating or unpleasant situation, it's inevitable that someone will try to help you find the gift. Most colleagues won't let someone stay feeling mad and visibly wilting for too long without addressing it.
Explore this idea with me. What if people don't offer adages or optimistic notes it to be mean, condescending or cliché? What if they simply don't want you to be the kid at the party who's distracted by the sadness of the piñata breaking and doesn't notice all the good stuff that just came out of it? What if it's more painful to watch you not find a gift than to risk the conversation of offering it to you?
Just sit with it, even if it doesn't resonate right now! Everyone's work situation is different, but regardless of your specific office dynamic, doing the work of finding our own gifts in a hard situation helps us cultivate more peace and beauty in our lives.
When the piñata breaks, we get a choice.
It's my hope that you hold space for your feelings about the piñata, and then move on to the candy! Be on the lookout for your gifts today, friends. They are all around you.
The Art of Confrontation™
If you haven't heard, &Beyond is launching our first-ever online course, the Art of Confrontation™, which is designed to promote a more peaceful, collaborative, and communicative office environment using insight and skills from Improv! For more information and enrollment, clickhere! Register by October 1st to receive a $50 discount.
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