Playing with Fear (Part Two)


Given the events in Orlando, many of us have been thinking about fear (or experiencing fear).

As a coach and trainer I work with individuals and groups to help people leave their comfort zones, face their fears and perform other than who they are.  My role is to give people what they need to find the joy in this sometimes frightening activity.  Here’s a few of the essential ingredients in my recipe for development:

Appreciation. We all know the difference between working with and for someone who appreciates our contribution, it drives us to give more and take more risks.  By taking a moment to express appreciation for the people in our lives we can have more of the joy and less of the fear.  By appreciating others we touch our shared humanity.

Play and Performance.  We may have reached the point in human history where a new paradigm for human development can emerge.  My mentor and colleague, Dr. Lois Holzman, gave a talk at TEDxNavesink that is worth watching.

In this talk, Dr. Holzman documents the importance of play in our growth and development throughout our entire lives.  Babies and toddlers play their way to growth. They learn how to talk, draw, dance, even think, through playing at what they’re not yet—performing it before they know it. Lucky for us non-babies, the mystery of exactly why and how play is developmental has been revealed and put to use with adults! Across the globe, from board rooms to therapy rooms, from hospital wards to refugee camps, “play revolutionaries” are helping people and communities embrace play as a way to keep developing.

Humor.  I take humor seriously; it is fundamental to who we are as human beings! Laughter brings us closer. We face adversity by discovering the joy and the ridiculousness of being alive through the social activity of creating humor with others.

Creativity.  As my colleague and author Cathy Salit puts it in her book Performance Breakthrough we can “create with crap.”

Can we take our collective creativity and bring it more consciously and more productively into everyday life and work?  Can we create something out of the nasty arguments between colleagues, the disrespectful attitude of a boss or peers, the email system that insists on going over quota with no warning, our impatience with the mistakes of a subordinate, our own belief that everyone else is the problem?  The answer is yes (and yes and yes and yes…).  Through performance, we can create new ways of thinking, new emotions, new language, new characters and new ideas via new scenes and new plays.

In the face of fear we can – we must – find joy by improvising, appreciating, performing, playing, laughing and creating.  Let’s develop!