Posts tagged with ‘resilience’

06 jun

The Brilliance (and Fun) of Improv!

Kerrigan2I tried improvisational theater (improv) for the first time the other night on the upper west side of Manhattan, and I’m hooked.

At first, I felt a bit uncomfortable performing without any script or knowledge of where the story was going. But here’s the thing: No one did, and we were all in this together. You see, improv is created collaboratively, without any pre-planning.

The story just unfolds, and it’s amazing how new ideas begin to flow: the creativity, the cooperation, and the fun are exhilarating! And, it’s all wrapped around a sense of openness and saying “yes” right from the get-go and building from there.

This culture of “yes” frees you from fear and embarrassment, and too much reliance on boring, tried and true habits. The brilliance of improv is that it takes you places you never thought you’d go, and your teammates are along for the ride as you all leap into the unknown together.

Now, picture this culture of “yes” in today’s corporate life, where change is an everyday event and innovation and resilience are necessary for growth. Improvisers take risks and make mistakes, and that’s needed to go forward in new directions. Just picture replacing tension, fear and conflict with encouragement, new ideas, and high team engagement.

Improv can open doors to the unexpected, to seeing and doing things differently. It could be the breath of fresh air, fun and forward-thinking you and your organization need.

So, what are you waiting for? Jump in and say “yes”!

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan. All Rights Reserved.

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert consultant and coach who specializes in helping clients achieve workplace success by developing the practical skills they need to improve their confidence, performance and productivity. More at www.michellekerriganinc.com and www.workplaceconfidence.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on June 6th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , ,

25 feb

Go for It – The Power of Boldness

MikeRobbinsNewDo you consider yourself bold or someone who goes for it with passion in life? Some of us do, but most people I know and work with, myself included, admit that they don’t often think of themselves as a bold person. Or, if we’ve done or said bold things in our lives, they seem to be few and far between…and they also seem to scare us half to death. Hence, we often don’t find ourselves going for it in our work and our life – or not nearly as much as we’d like (especially these past few years).

Being bold, while scary and challenging for many of us, is essential if we’re going to live an authentic, successful, and fulfilling life. Boldness is about stepping up and stepping out onto our “edge” in life – pushing the limits of what we think is possible or appropriate. It’s about living, speaking, and acting in ways that are both courageous and true to who we really are.

Because we’re all unique, our individual versions of boldness will look quite different. Something that might be “bold” for me, may not be so for you – or vice versa. Going for it has to do with us getting in touch with our deepest truths, passions, and desires in life and then having the courage to live and act “out loud” in a way that is congruent with this.

Here are five key reminders of what it takes to be bold and go for it in life:

1) Be True to Yourself – Tell and live your truth with courage, vulnerability, and commitment. We must also remain in a constant inquiry with ourselves about who we are and what’s important to us. It’s okay and necessary in this process to admit when we’ve made a mistake, gone off course, or done something that’s out of integrity for with ourselves, as well as if we feel totally lost (which we will at times). Being true to who we are is about being ruthlessly honest and forgiving with ourselves (and with others) in a way that is both fierce and compassionate.

2) Live with Passion – Passion comes from within us, not from the external circumstances, events, activities, or people in our lives. Being bold is about going for it, not holding back, and giving ourselves fully to our work, our relationships, and our lives. To do this we must generate authentic passion, which is both a powerful emotion as well as a state of being as well.

3) Step Out – Challenge yourself to say and do things that are outside of your comfort zone and that scare you. This will force you to “step out” in your life and step in to who you really are. We often don’t think we’re “ready,” we sometimes don’t know exactly what we’re supposed to do, and we almost never have a guarantee that things will work out. So what! As Ray Bradbury famously said, “Jump, and build your wings on the way down.”

4) Lean on Others – Support, inspiration, and accountability from other people are essential along our journey of boldness and authenticity. We can’t do it all by ourselves and it’s imperative that we reach out to others who believe in us, will tell us the truth, and can help us when we get stuck. Create a “dream team” of powerful and supportive people around you with whom you can share your hopes, dreams, and ideas. And, be willing to ask for and receive their support, contribution, and generosity.

5) When You Fall Down, Get Back Up – It’s important to make peace with the fact that you will fall down, probably a lot, if you’re really going for it and playing big in life. How we respond to falling down is what truly makes the difference in our lives. When we make a commitment to ourselves to get back up, dust ourselves off, be real about how we feel and what happened, and not let it stop us from being who we are and going for what we want – we tap into what true power, boldness, and authenticity are all about!

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on February 25th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

04 dec

When You Fall Down, Get Back Up

MikeRobbinsNewHave you ever seen a small child learn how to walk? If you have, you know what a remarkable experience it is. I’d heard about this, but had never witnessed it first hand until Samantha, our (almost) five year old, took her first real steps when she was just over a year. She and I were playing in our family room one night and although she’d taken a step or two here and there, and could get around okay while holding onto an adult or a piece of furniture, she hadn’t really “walked” yet.

That night I was holding her hands and pulling her across the room with me, as she took some steps. I decided to let go to see what would happen. I did and she took a step or two and then fell down, face first, on the soft carpet. She was fine. She looked up at me and although she couldn’t speak, she made it very clear that she wanted me to pick her up so she could try again. I did and this time when I let go she took about four or five real steps and then fell down. I screamed, “You did it!”, started clapping wildly, and yelling for my wife Michelle to come into the room.

Michelle came running in. Samantha and I went to the far end of our family room. I held her hands to steady her, started walking with her across the floor, let go, and then it happened – she really walked – all the way across the room, by herself. When she fell down, Michelle and I were so elated and moved, we both burst into tears and joyous laughter at the same time. Samantha, so proud of herself, began to shriek with excitement and to clap her hands as she was lying there on the floor. And, of course, she wanted to get back up and go again.

We all know how to do this – fall down and get back up. Assuming we know how to walk, which most of us are fortunate enough to be able to do, we went through this specific and miraculous experience ourselves when we were very small. We’ve also gone through it in a figurative sense many other times as we move through the ups and downs of life. The question isn’t whether or not we’ll fall down; the question is will we be bold enough to get back up again? Too often, sadly, we fall down and then decide we can’t get back up. Boldness is about having the courage, willingness, and commitment to get back up when we fall down – even if we’re scared or don’t think we can.

Resisting, complaining about, or even feeling sorry for ourselves about the “bad” things that happen is totally normal and what we’re often encouraged to do by people around us and our culture in general – whether we do it out loud with others or just in our heads. However, these things, while understandable, don’t address the real issues, the emotions we’re experiencing, or make things better for us. Facing difficulties in our life can actually be an incredibly rewarding and positive experience for us – if we choose to allow our challenges to be opportunities for growth.

Below is a list of some things to appreciate when we “fall down” in life. Obstacles, failures, and challenges can:

- Give us important feedback about where and who we are

- Provide an opportunity for us to be courageous

- Allow us to wake up and notice all the good things that are happening that we hadn’t been paying attention to

- Give us a great opportunity for learning, growth, and improvement

- Allow us to learn to appreciate ourselves, even when things don’t turn out exactly as we want them to

- Give us an opportunity to get in touch with, take responsibility for, and express our real emotions in an authentic way

- Challenge us to play bigger, make adjustments, or re-think our approach

By learning to see our challenges as opportunities, we take our power back from the situations, circumstances, and outcomes of our lives. Our ability to appreciate difficulties, learn from them, and use them to our advantage, gives us an important insight into who we really are and how to create success and fulfillment in a conscious, deliberate, and authentic way.

Being bold, going for what we want, and living with authenticity doesn’t in any way mean we won’t fail, struggle, or fall short. In fact, if we aren’t failing or facing any challenges at all, it’s probably a good indication that we aren’t playing all that big in our lives. It’s important for us to make peace with the fact that we will fall down many times throughout our journey. However, when we make a commitment to ourselves to get back up, dust ourselves off, be real about how we feel and what happened, and not let it stop us from being who we are and going for what we want -we tap into what true power, boldness, and authenticity are all about.

As Mark Twain reminds us in one of his many famous quotes, “Dance like nobody’s watching; love like you’ve never been hurt. Sing like nobody’s listening; live like it’s heaven on earth.”

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on December 4th, 2010 in General, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

26 jun

How to Handle Getting Kicked in the Head and Six Other Life Lessons I Learned from Martial Arts

RenitaKalhornBack in the mid-90s,I had just returned to New York after graduating from business school in France. I was feeling a little ungrounded career-wise – I had an MBA but no real interest in typical MBA professions like investment banking or consulting – and so, in the meantime, was temping at a 9-to-5 job.

Being a night owl, I realized, I still had a good six hours after work before bedtime and the idea of taking martial arts popped into my head (like most of my life-changing decisions do). Flipping through the Yellow Pages, I found a taekwon-do school a few blocks from my apartment and signed up for the one-month trial.

Within the first few days, I was hooked, going to class four or five times a week. And for the next seven years that I pursued my first-degree black belt, martial arts training was my anchor — through a myriad of jobs, roommates and relationships — a profound source of lessons and references that I could translate into work, music and every aspect of life.

1. Break down the impossible into the possible. When I first started training, I saw the students with advanced belts leaping high up in the air and throwing flamboyant kicks, and I couldn’t imagine ever being able to do them myself. Luckily, as white belts, we began with a basic turning kick, which was vaguely doable and, from there, almost without realizing, I made incremental progress until it was me who was one of the advanced belts breaking boards with a flamboyant kick.

This has been an invaluable reference that I’ve applied to everything I do. Feeling that awful “how am I ever going to do this?” pit in my stomach when faced with a daunting challenge – whether it’s distilling reams of information into a client presentation, learning the thousands of notes in a Rachmaninoff concerto or memorizing the names of all the muscles and bones for a fitness-certification exam – I remind myself that I’ve done the “impossible” before and I can do it again.

2. Feel the emotion without reacting emotionally. It’s so easy when you’re contact sparring to get angry and take it personally when your opponent lands a painful punch to the stomach or kick to the head. But when anger – or other strong emotion — clouds your thinking, performance suffers (it may also have something to do with the kick to the head). So, I learned to quickly process (not suppress) my emotions, and not let them (necessarily) dictate my actions or demeanor. (P.S. This is a handy skill to have at the office.)

3. If your first attempt isn’t successful, try it again (or something else). I think this may have been said more eloquently by someone else, but in truth, I often fell prey to the illusion that if something didn’t work the first time, perhaps it wasn’t meant to be.

In class, we would learn different kick combinations to counter or initiate an attack. Practicing with a partner, they seemed so simple and effective. And yet, I was frustrated when the combinations didn’t work in actual sparring. What was wrong with me?!

In fact, it wasn’t about finding a foolproof strategy or formula that would work right off the bat regardless of circumstances: it was about tweaking the formula or trying different strategies until one worked. (Hmmm, can you think of other situations where this might apply?)

4. No-one is good at everything. Surrounded by talented students — some who competed internationally, had black belts in multiple martial arts or had been training since they were two years old – they all melded, in my mind, into one incredibly fast, strong, flexible super-human composite. Intimidating and discouraging, to say the least, and not even accurate. As it turned out, everyone had their strengths and weaknesses, and it was a better use of time to maximize what strengths I had than to psyche myself out exaggerating those of others. (Corollary: Stop playing the comparison game.)

5. Energy starts in the mind. As passionate as I was about training, I didn’t always feel like going to class after work. Some nights I would drag myself sluggishly across the mat, shoulders slumped, focused on how I could sneak out early. But then one of the master teachers would appear in front of me with a kicking pad, and I would be miraculously flooded with renewed vigor.

How strange, nothing else had changed; I hadn’t eaten a Power Bar or gulped down a Red Bull. By virtue of the master’s attention, I simply felt inspired to try harder, to show respect by doing my best. That instant energy surge was vivid proof that it’s the mind that tells the body what to do, not the other way round.

6. Persistence pays off in more ways than one. Okay, it’s one thing to know this intellectually; it’s another to experience the confidence-building effects. The black belt test takes about an hour and consists of calisthenics, forms, sparring and breaking a block of five boards with a back kick. No matter how well you perform on the other parts of the test, if you don’t break the boards, you don’t get your black belt. This was the one part of the test I wasn’t able to practice and, as I faced the boardholders bracing for my kick, I was overcome by doubt.

I didn’t break the boards the first time. Nor the second time, the requisite three months later. I don’t think I have ever felt so discouraged and inadequate. But I was determined not to walk away, like some of the other students who never came back after their first failure. It took me five separate tries and hours of practice over the course of a year to finally break the boards, but the intense feeling of relief, sense of accomplishment and confidence in my ability to persist was priceless.

7. Commitment trumps ability. My frustration from not being able to break the boards was exacerbated when I saw students who were less fit or not as strong as me, kick right through with apparent ease. (And I’m guessing the muscular football player who also took several tries to break the boards felt the same.) The difference was they believed they could do it and they didn’t hold back. As the instructors used to say: “Kick like you mean it.”

I have yet to use any kicks or punches in actual combat. But the mental muscles I developed – confidence, resilience, ability to adapt, self-control — those, I have occasion to use every day.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Renita Kalhorn on June 26th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , ,