Guest contributions:

04.22.13  Uncommon Leadership 

04.02.15  Switch and Shift  

05.13.15  Better Practice Team Performance

05.29.15  Better Practice Team Performance

07.08.15  Switch and Shift 

07.14.15  Better Practice Team Performance

10.05.15  Switch and Shift 

Stacey's Reading List...


"Tribe of Mentors" by Timothy Ferriss

"Shortcut" by John Pollack 

"Seeing What Others Don't" by Gary Klein

"Several Short Sentences About Writing" by Verlyn Klinkenborg

"The Birkman Method - Your Personality at Work" by Sharon Birkman Fink and Stephanie Capparell

"Creative Intelligence" by Bruce Nussbaum 

"Improv Wisdom" by Patricia Ryan Madson

"Training To Imagine" by Kat Koppett

"Quiet" by Susan Cain

"Where Good Ideas Come From" by Steven Johnson

"A Whole New Mind" by Daniel H. Pink

"Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman 

"Rework" by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson  

"The Leadership Pipeline" by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, James Noel  

"Life:  Selected Quotations" by Paulo Coelho 

"Deep Change" by Robert Quinn

"The Power of Full Engagement" by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz  

"The Way of the Shepherd" by Dr. Kevin Leman and William Pentak  

"Developing the Leader Within You" by John Maxwell  

"Mr. Peabody's Apples" by Madonna

"Orbiting the Giant Hairball" by Gordon MacKenzie




blog archive

Perspective from the Monkeys...

Many of my blog posts showcase insights from Improve Thru Improv attendees or from guests who perform with our own Sock Monkey improv troupe.  In just a few short hours, these folks are able to translate personal learnings from play into real world application.  That’s good stuff!    

In that same spirit of sharing, I thought I’d include perspectives from our own Sock Monkey troupe members.  What’s interesting to note is that the insights are similar:  building confidence, learning to saying yes, dealing with judgment, giving up control, understanding emotions, embracing trust.  

I was going through a difficult time when I found improv. I didn't like myself and was convinced nobody else did either. The more I went the more confidence I built and the more that spilled out into the rest of my world. It was easier to meet people, grow relationships I'd already established, and it took away some serious anxiety I was facing. I got to a point where I was like "Hey, I'm kind of funny sometimes. And people genuinely like me!" All around confidence booster.

Do you ever notice how many times we say “no” in life?  We say no to people, to events, and to opportunities all the time.  I always considered myself a fairly positive guy, but I never realized how often I said “no” in any given day until I started doing improv comedy.  The primary guideline of improv is called “the law of agreement”.  The basic concept is that whatever is offered to you on stage by your acting buddies, you say “Yes and”.  You accept what is given to you, add your best to it, trust the people you are with, and be in the moment.  These are some pretty good guidelines to living life.  It allows us to accept people and situations where they are at, add value, and go to new places and opportunities that might not have been otherwise. 

I am structured.  VERY STRUCTURED.  (Think Sheldon Cooper on the Big Bang Theory.)  In other words, I’m wrapped pretty tight.  My whole world operates on routine, discipline, and order.  Improvisation is the opposite of that.  There is no script, it’s all made up as you go, and there are no wrong answers.  Everything about improv is counter to who I am at the core of my being.  Allowing myself the opportunity to experience “true spontaneity” – to actually give up control – has been euphoric.  And even though I’m still somewhat rigid, I’m embracing far more unscripted life moments, which has given me a level of freedom I never had before.

Improv taught me that "stupid" isn't a four-letter word.  I believe that one of the keys to succeeding greatly in life or work is to accept that you will undoubtedly fail at some point. Probably at many points. The difference I think is that stumbling professionally is one level of embarrassment, and crashing and burning personally is a whole different deal.  Early on I learned that my emotional reaction to improv exercises that I hated was really about my feelings of being judged by others.  I feared others would think I looked / acted / sounded stupid. I really hated to be stupid.  It wasn't until I really embraced "stupid" that I started to relax and have fun. And my improv skills improved. So did my confidence. Turns out that focusing on how people may be reacting to what you are doing substantially diminishes your ability to do that thing well. If you give up worrying what others think about you and just do what you do, life becomes a lot less stressful. And you get better.

I have found that Improv has helped me to refine my life skills in a very positive way. Improv is unscripted, just like life. Improv helps my confidence in dealing with people and situations that I encounter. I'm far more confident with public speaking and roles of leadership. Not to mention the incredible friendships that are built with those you learn to trust. 

The thing that I have both learned and loved most about improv is that it gives me a safe place to “try on” emotions in an environment that has very little emotional risk.  As a person who very often stays detached from her own emotional responses, improv gives me the space to get in touch with those responses in a way that feels safe.  This space to experiment with feelings has helped me to be more aware of my emotions, better able to sense and deal with the emotions of others, and to connect on a heart level with who I am.

A very special "thank you" to my fellow troupe members for allowing me to post such personal insights.  May they never cease to amaze me...

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