Browsing category: Self
Uncertainty is something I struggle with everyday.
I want to know what will happen. I want everything to be perfect.
I know that someday I’ll be better, so maybe I’ll do it correctly then. I get stuck thinking about the future, while missing the present.
It’s only human behavior to be concerned about what might happen.
Striking a balance between certainty and uncertainty is difficult for us. We need certainty for our basic needs, but we also need uncertainty to keep us interested and growing. Curiosity vs. Worry. The problem is when uncertainty is crippling.
I’d love to craft a perfect post about uncertainty, but will it be perfect? Will it be inspiring?
“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” ― Salvador Dalí
I’m uncertain that anyone will read this post and if I let that get to me, uncertainty could prevent me from ever hitting the publish button.
One way of dealing with uncertainty is letting go of the outcome and knowing that everything will be OK. It’s difficult because we have doubt, but there will always be doubt.
Giving without expectation is one way I deal with uncertainty. “I’m just going to put this out there and see what happens.”
Uncertainty is a scary thing, but it’s where growth and new experiences live. Certainty is where complacency and mediocrity live.
In improv, every scene starts with uncertainty. There is no script, which can be terrifying especially when you are starting out. When I began, I was so anxious and worried that I would say the wrong thing. As I learned, practiced, failed, and failed again; I realized that as long as I listened and reacted honestly, I would be OK. Even if I had a bad scene, it wasn’t the end of the world. I would get another opportunity to get better.
I gave up on perfect and focused on the moment. I accepted the fact that there would always be something better to do or say, but I can’t wait for that to happen in a scene. Life will not wait for you to make perfect decisions.
Now, I get excited about improvising and life. I can’t wait to see how each scene turns out.
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” – Gilda Radner
How do you deal with uncertainty?
Have you ever been in the “zone”?
Where time passes quickly and you’re so lazer-focused that nothing else around you matters?
How does that feel?
There’s no stress or outside worry. You’re completely focused regardless of the outcome.
Kids do this when they play. They’re so engrossed in creating a little world that they don’t hear you call them for dinner. They’re not worried about the best angle to drape a blanket over a chair, they just make a fort. If the chair falls, they start over. They build, add, and create a whole world.
This is being in the moment. Be aware of the present and accepting everything that is happening now. Don’t start thinking into the future and stressing over what could happen.
Living in the moment can help you in social situations. I’ve focused on being in the moment when i found myself thinking “what am I going to say next?”. It can remove social anxiety and allow you to meet new people, relax at parties, job interviews, etc. It takes the pressure off by not having a predetermined outcome of the interaction.
Being fully in the moment reduces stress by not fearing the future and not dwelling on the past. We should aim to only reflect on the past and plan for the future. Each moment in life deserves your full attention. There will never be another one like it.
Improvisers perform in the moment. Our full attention must be on the scene. We risk missing a name, a subtle action, or a tone inflection which could be detrimental to a scene. All of these things provide clues as to what the other improviser is thinking.
We listen to understand every detail available in the environment. We can’t stress about what we’re going to do or say, and dwelling on the past will never move the scene forward. Being present is the best way to have a successful scene in life or on stage.
When do you felt present and in the moment?
Have you ever finished talking with someone and said to yourself “Wow, he really get me.” Or “She was really easy to talk to.”
Conversely, have you ever heard “You never listen to me”? Maybe that person is actually saying “I don’t feel like you understand how I feel.”
What is different about these two situations? What is it about the first scenario that leaves you feeling understood?
Listening can help you become likable, charismatic and it can improve both personal and professional relationships. When you listen, you become connected with the other person. They can feel that you understand what they are thinking.
Listening makes us feel valued. People are emotional creatures and because of that, we want to be heard and understood. We are drawn to people who understand us.
…still, most of us only listen enough to respond.
I’m guilty of it. We focus so much on being heard and noticed. Planning out what to say while the other person is talking. Who wants to be around someone who doesn’t listen and show they understand?
“First seek to understand, then to be understood.” – Stephen Covey
I’ve been there, but through many personal struggles and reading, I’ve realize how important listening can be. I’m not only talking about hearing the words, but deep listening.
Listening is more than just hearing the words.
Improvisers know listening is critical when performing. Since everything is created in the moment, listening is the only way to create a scene. We have to hear the spoken words of the other actors, while at the same time listen for emotion. As improvisers we also listen for the subtext to extract as much information as possible.
We listen and let their words affect us.
Listen with more than your ears. Listen with your heart. Put yourself in their shoes. Feel how they feel. Let go of waiting to respond.
“Listening is the willingness to change your mind” – Alan Alda
I urge you to ask yourself “what is this person saying through their emotions” and “how are they feeling right now?” the next time you’re trying to make a connection with someone.
How do you listen better?
I wanted this first post to be a well-written, interesting, and compelling work of art…but it’s not.
I had several ideas that I wanted to start with, some of them are semi-developed.
I thought, “soon, one of these ideas will be finished and I’ll finally hit the publish button. I just need some more time staring at one of these half formed articles and then I’ll magically have the insight to craft something perfect.”
…but the whole time I was ignoring a basic principle of improv.
In improv, sometimes you have no idea how to initiate a scene but you just take a step out and start. Start anything. Moving, motioning, speaking. Literally anything. I realized that I wasn’t following this idea with this site. The truth is, sometimes it takes starting to gain a little momentum and only then does the scene become interesting.
What was I waiting for? Greatness. I was waiting to publish something amazing but I was worried that I would be starting this site off on the wrong foot. I was scared that whatever I wrote wouldn’t be good enough. Do I expect this to be the best written piece of work ever to appear online? Can I articulate exactly what I am thinking? What if I fail?
“Perfect is the enemy of the good.”
In improv, it’s just one scene. Just start again. Try, learn something, and just start over.
I realized that I will get better over time, but only if I try. I started taking my own advice on living life through the principles of improv.
“Excellence is not a singular act.”
Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Trust yourself. Take that step out on to the stage.
What do you want to start today?