The MOST DIFFICULT thing I have done in a VERY long time is taking the Improv Class I’m currently enrolled in.
The teacher, Greg Hoyt (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1701702/) is great, my classmates are wonderful and supportive… my “problem” is me.
My “natural way of being” is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what of what I think is expected in a good Improviser. I don’t “do voices”, I have an extremely limited emotional range (my wife says I’m really happy 99.9% of the time and really pissed off .1%), I don’t remember names well, (let alone lines, objectives, etc.). I don’t emote my emotions, I tend to be internal and not very expressive… all of these things are the exact opposite traits of a typical Improver.
Stay with me… I’m not beating myself up… I’m being honest. These are current realities.
I know there are many things that I’m incredibly good at… one is my ability to put myself into situations that really stretch me… and I love that. I live my life pretty fearlessly… I love that about me. I’m a great Santa and a good person… I get all of that and I like myself.
Here’s my point- I currently SUCK at Imrov. I’ve been seeing myself as being short on the raw materials that make for good Improv performers… because of this I often think thoughts like:
Why am I even taking this class?
You’re really good at your Santa thing, you don’t need to be doing this Improv stuff.
I don’t even want to act like a guy who finds conflict and exaggerates it, this is just not who I am. Etc., etc., etc.
In other words I’m “IN MY HEAD” thinking rather than being committed to being in the moment. I’m not just relaxed, reacting and having fun… Being “in my head” is taking away from my performance.
This is NOT a first for me… I have been self-conscious of many things over the years.
Here’s what I’ve discovered in the past, just re-remembered and am now applying to my current Improv situation…
It’s NOT what I’m lacking that is causing my angst… It’s what I’m thinking.
I’m thinking about my shortcomings because I have NOT clearly identified my “why”… the reason I’m doing this at all.
With a big enough, compelling enough, WHY… I ALWAYS find out how. I know that when my WHY is compelling enough I will find a way. I will build new strengths, find ways to benefits from my limitations and get maximum benefit and value from my core competencies. SO…
I have been consistently asking myself why? Why? Why? Why am I doing this? Why am I pursuing performing? Entertaining? Why is Improv important to me and my objectives?
For me knowing why I do what I do is essential. I MUST understand, feel good about and be compelled by WHY I’m doing what I’m doing in order to be “all in”.
So, WHY am I interested in performing?
I’m not… at least not directly. That has been the root of my angst!
I’m interested in having a positive impact. I’m interested in doing things in a big way while doing things that I like. I’m interested in doing things that invigorate me.
Getting on TV and possibly in the movies where I can have a positive impact in a huge way excites me. I get invigorated by the thought of making millions of people smile. Now with my WHY clearly defined I’m absolutely certain that my preparation (my improve classes, acting classes, etc.) will be MUCH easier, not because I’m better but because I’m all in and will do whatever it takes to gain the skills and leverage my assets in whatever ways necessary to be successful at this.
I’m confident the become more comfortable and confident with Improv will make me an even more extraordinary performer as Santa, and as other characters, and I know that this increases my odds of doing more, and doing what I do better so I can have a greater… more significant impact.
WHEW! Thank you for staying with me as I worked this out. (I hope you benefit from this but I did this exercise, writing all of this as a way for clarify MY thoughts.)
One final thing… the money is also important. VERY IMPORTANT!
I’m committed to earning a significant amount of money and this pursuit, acting, allows me the opportunity to do that. I’m NOT pursuing acting FOR the money… but I want to maximize the money I earn while doing this. Does that make sense?
Now that I have clarified this in my own mind I feel as if a weight has been lifted off of my chest… weird. I didn’t expect that.
One final thing.
I have also decided, in this moment, that I AM an artist.
Performing is an art. I have NEVER seen myself as an artist. I have friends who are artists, my wife is an artist. I have always admired artists of all kinds… but I didn’t identify with them. From this day forward I do. I AM AN ARTIST!
Everywhere I go I'm recognized as Santa Claus, in fact just today I was stopped at both the gas station and the grocery store and asked if I would take "selfies" with people. I LOVE IT!
Each time I'm stopped I give away my "You Were Caught Being Nice" cards. People love them. There is nothing promotional about the cards. I'm NOT doing this to get business, I just think they're fun and it gives children and adults a little memento from their chance meeting with Santa Claus.
Now I want to add to that experience… and here's how you can help.
I just created a website, Its-Really-Him.com, and I'm putting the URL on the cards saying:
"FREE Gifts for you at Its-Really-Him.com"
On the website I'm going to add "Gifts" that will help keep the Spirit of Christmas alive all year long. The Gifts will be things like suggested family activities. For example I'll have suggestions and inscrtuctions for things like:
- Family Games
- Family Crafts
- Family Cooking
- Family Conversation starters
- Family Outdoor activities
Here's where you can help me. Please send me your suggestions.
I'm primarily looking for things that can be done easily and at no, or low, cost.
I'm also looking for some "rules" for family activities. Perhaps things like no cell phones, no ridiculing or arguing, etc.
My hope is to create a rich resource of activities that help people experience the Spirit of Christmas all year long.
How do we experience the Spirit of Christmas?
We experience the Spirit of Christmas by demonstrating love and by being the recipient of demonstrated love. We demonstrate love by behaving in loving ways, by doing things that are considerate, compassionate, thoughtful and helpful; these are all human embodiments of the Christmas Spirit.
Relationships are the vehicles through which our love can be demonstrated and the "gifts" I'll be providing are intended to enrich relationships.
If you have any thoughts or suggestions please leave them in the comment area below or email them to me at Santa at SantaEd dot com.
Joseph Campbell famously said "The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek".
Could that be true for you? It was for me.
Of course there are lots of caves. Some very personal, some spiritual and some professional.
One of my caves was the fear of public speaking, and the treasure… well that was more than a million dollars in income, but it was also much more, much, much more than that, I'll tell you about the true treasure I received in a minute.
First, imagine this, me in 1977 I was a 23 year old salesman. Clean shaven, experiencing some initial success as I entered sales from my previous labor jobs of commercial fishing, being a longshoreman, a jackhammer operator and a masons tender… all tough jobs.
I was several months into my new sales job and I recognized that public speaking would allow me to dramatically further my career. Very reluctantly I joined Toastmasters, an organization designed to help people develop their skill and confidence in public speaking. After my first session I let more than a year pass before I could muster enough courage to attend another meeting. That's how terrified I was, and after the second meeting I just quit.
Have you ever had anything that you were so afraid of doing that you just absolutely wouldn't do it EVEN THOUGH you were certain that it would be good for you?
That could be the cave that holds the treasure for you.
Fast forward to 1988, I'm a marketing consultant to Tony Robbins. Tony invites me to attend one of his seminars. I have VIP seating, 3rd row center and at some point, and for a reason that only became clear to me many years later.
Anyway, I put my hand up in response to a question Tony had asked.
And I'll tell you, to this day I have absolutely NO IDEA of what came out of my mouth. When I stood up and was handed a mic, and realized that I was about to speak to Tony Robbins in front of 1,200 people I just went numb. Words came out, but I was in such terror I didn't know what I said at the time, and I still don't know to this day.
The week after that experience I joined Toastmasters again. This time I was absolutely, 100% committed and within 18 months I was public speaking regularly… often to crowds of 50 to 100 people.
In the following years I became a professional speaker. I have now spoken before thousands of groups and my audiences were often in the hundreds and even occasionally in the thousands… and I have been on TV shows where I was literally speaking to millions of people… and I have loved every minute of it!!!
Entering the cave called "the fear of public speaking" allowed me to find a true treasure, a treasure that has now been with me for decades.
Fast forward again, this time to last week- Week 2, August, 2014.
Monday- I was in a recording studio with a HUGE Hollywood sound engineer (the guy does a ton of work on the TV program Glee). I was recording an audio track, in a character voice that I created, to be used in a commercial for a cutting edge high-tec firm.
Tuesday- I had a small part in a stand-up comedy routine at The Ice House in Pasadena, CA with retired wrestler Mick Foley.
Wednesday- I went to a rehearsal with the choreographer for the commercial I was I shot on Thursday.
Thursday- I spent 12 and 1/2 hours on set as the lead actor in a major, 50 person, commercial shoot I mentioned.
EVERY ONE of these things came to me because I entered that cave and stepped from my comfort zone to my courage zone all those years ago.
Once my comfort zone included public speaking I was open to many, many more opportunities. Further steps into my "Courage Zone" allowed me to become comfortable being a performer and a voice artist.
Here's my truth… my experience…
The cave you fear to enter CAN hold the treasure you seek.
But not all caves hold treasure… some hold painful lessons, but in my experience those lessons can also pave the way to the treasure you seek.
So what is the greatest treasure that I have personally gained from entering this cave of the "fear of public speaking"?
It hasn't been the money, even though public speaking has earned me a lot of money. the true treasure is the contentment, the fulfillment and the sense of contribution I feel when I know I have reached millions of people with information or entertainment that has enhanced their lives.
I'm a bit awestruck to think that this adult version of that scared young man is now doing things that he NEVER, EVER, could have even imagined doing, and today I'm doing it with SHEER JOY and absolute GRATITUDE. I'M LOVING WHAT I'M DOING… That is the true treasure that I found in that cave, and it's the treasure I have carried with me for decades.
And the reality is I'm entering new caves in my life all the time, challenging myself with new ventures into my courage zone.
What is your cave? How great could your treasure be? What would it take to move you from your comfort zone to your courage zone?
Would you like a little help? A little encouragement? Call me let's talk- 541-941-4840
As I mentioned in Gift 7 developing my Faith was a difficult Gift for me to receive.
I'm not talking about accepting the dogma or scripture of religious faith; I'm talking about developing my personal faith in Spirit.
Now what do we do when we need to bolster our faith? When we get knocked for a loop and need to find a way to see clear again?
My practice and my advice is to seek knowledge that challenges or reinforces our core beliefs. Faith is built through certainty and certainty is developed through education.
Here's some information that I hope will either build your faith… or challenge your current beliefs.
Once you have watched this video read this:
Here are 2 excerpts:
Let’s see if I’ve got the gist of your theory straight. Essentially, you’re saying that at least some basic degree of consciousness is woven into the fabric of spacetime itself, and it’s the coherent quantum activity among the microtubules in our brain that allows us to amplify or strengthen the basic universal consciousness that’s already there?
If you ask me “Does God exist?” and you mean “Does God exist in the sense of the white-bearded guy who handed tablets to Moses on the mountain?,” the answer is no. But if you ask me “Does God exist in the sense that consciousness, awareness, and purpose exist in the most basic fabric of the universe?,” I would say it’s a distinct possibility that the answer is yes.
I believe that our resources are determined by our resourcefulness and how resourceful we are is determined by 3 things:
#1 Our focus. For example do we focus on ourselves or others? Do we focus on lack or abundance?
#2 The meaning we give things. Does this mean we're doomed or is this a unique opportunity to try something new?
#3 What we do. Do we give up, do we continue forward or do we try something different?
What do you think?
"Most of the time, I don't have very much fun, and the rest of the time I have no fun at all," quipped Woody Allen.
There are times when life can get so crazy, busy and demanding that we end up setting our sights on getting through the day rather than genuinely enjoying the day.
We run on autopilot. We are reactive rather than creative. We get into a mode. Life becomes a daily blur.
Be Jolly Exercise: Studies show that most people who score higher levels of happiness do not experience markedly better life circumstances. So why are they so happy?
Well, one answer is they know how to enjoy their life. The word "enjoy" means to bring joy to something. Today's assignment is to find your inner smile by reminding yourself
- What energizes you
- What you love
- What inspires you.
Memo to self: Remember to enjoy the miracle of existence today.
Have you asked yourself this key question- Why do I do what I do?
Living from our values is significantly different than pursuing goals. Many people set goals (expected outcomes) for their life, or for the year, and they identify those goals as their vision. Then they develop plans that are meant to reach those goals. The trouble is that such a vision is outcome focused rather than integrity focused.
To help find the answer to why you do what you define your values.
Values lead to vision and ultimately to how you live your life. Defining vision can be tricky. If the focus is on expected outcomes, you end up defining vision as foreseeing what you hope to accomplish someday. True vision is who we are to be today.
A good exercise is to write out your top 5 Values:
Then take a couple of minutes and write down a brief draft of your personal philosophy.
Then create a short life motto:
Examples: – “Integrity before all else”… “Excellence in effort”…”Reaching my potential”…
It's easy to let one’s self-esteem be closely tied to outcomes; income, weight, etc., Far better to let your self-esteem be tied to living true to your values.
I’ve recently had the good fortune to meet and begin collaborating with Will Wilkinson, co-author of the upcoming book, Awakening From the American Dream, and director of the www.wakeupandbehappy.com campaign. Will has become a good friend, and I recently recorded an interview with him for his series. Here’s the http://wakeupandbehappy.com/collaborator/ed-taylor/.
We got into some very stimulating territory and I encourage you to listen in. Our theme was happiness and arriving at the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet and we came at it from several novel angles.
I hope our conversation can help your discover the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet. You can access the interview here- http://wakeupandbehappy.com/collaborator/ed-taylor/
PS Take a moment to visit Will’s site, www.wakeupandbehappy.com to join their campaign. And remember to the Happiness Pledge and refer your friends to their initiative. We’re helping to wake up the world, one smile at a time!
I'm adding the video below to the Home Page of the Greatest Gifts of All website this weekend. Because you have already watched the videos and read the booklet I wanted to extend this invitation to you before adding it to the site.
I hope you will watch this video and take up on this FREE offer.
Email me to schedule a time to talk.