Tag Archives: Action

“…No One Need Wait a Moment…”

8 Mar

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“How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment, we can start now, start slowly changing the world! How lovely that everyone, great and small, can make their contribution toward introducing justice straightaway… And you can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness!”
– The Diary of Anne Frank

“Ta-dah!” How Clowns Handle Mistakes

6 Mar

The following excerpt comes from the amazing book Improv Wisdom (2005) by Patricia Ryan Madson. 

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Matt Smith, a wonderful Seattle improv teacher and solo performer, taught me a liberating game that can be used as a response to a personal screwup. He calls it “The Circus Bow.” Matt claims this is how circus clowns deal with a slip in their routines. Instead of shrinking and berating himself silently with, “Oh, no, I really blew it!” the clown turns to the crowd on one side and takes a magnificent bow with his hands extended and his arms high in the air, proclaiming “Ta-dah!” as if he had just pulled off a master stunt. He then turns to face the other side of the audience and repeats the bow, “Ta-dah!” Doing it in both directions allows him a 360-degree view of where he is. 

The virtue of this is that it pulls his attention out into the world again, looking around and standing tall. This engaged and forward-looking vantage point is an excellent place to be after a blooper. It is more common to focus inward when a blunder occurs. “How could I have done that?” The body shrinks and withdraws. Instead, a mistake should wake us up. Become more alert, more alive. Ta-dah! New territory. Now, what can I make of this? What comes next? 

…Jim Thompson, author of Positive Coaching…encourages his athletes to play aggressively, to really go for it, and when they do make a blunder in practice to silently say “Ta-dah!” In no time all of his players were not only mumbling it under their breath, but running full tilt down the court shouting “Ta-dah!” with arms outstretched and big smiles on their faces. 

…The next time you notice that you have made a mistake, done something that feels silly or dumb, do the circus bow. Raise your arms in the air, smile, turn left and right. Say, “Ta-dah!” brightly. Then look around and see what needs to be done next and do it. (excerpted from pages 106-109).