Tag Archives: Productivity

“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). 

Productivity Hack #1 – Stick to a Routine (Here’s Mine)

3 Jan

Productivity is a hot topic and there is going to be a lot of crap floating around about it. Well, I’m not one to let that opportunity go by…so, here is my crap advice: stick to a routine. Obviously, it’s important to stick to the RIGHT kind of routine (even a couch potato is very consistent) and while there is a lot of helpful ideas out there, I’m going to stick with the ones that I actually use myself. In my opinion, there is nothing more important than my routine. Here is my typical day…

– Wake up around 4:15-4:45 am.

– Turn my Up band to awake mode.

– Bathroom. Read book or read news on iPhone.

– Kitchen. Drink big glass of water.

– Get ready for gym, leave house, return home for wallet.

– Workout. Weights and cardio on alternating days. I still follow Body-for-Life workout primarily.

– Come home. Eat Diet-to-go breakfast. Drink more water. Take vitamins. Make coffee.

– Read. I usually have about 5-7 books that I’m reading. Almost all non-fiction. I usually complete about 2-3 a week. Recent examples, Drive by Daniel Pink, The Alchemist by Pedro Coelho, The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff, The Power of Full Engagement by Loehr and Schwartz, Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg.

– Shower. Get dressed. I work from home mostly, so this part can vary depending on appointments.

– Home office. Pick up notepad and review/add to it. I follow David Allen’s Getting Things Done approach. I organize my tasks through Google tasks, I use my calendar only for things that are happening that day, and I use a basic legal pad for my daily stuff and ideas. As I go I write down stuff for the next day meaning that I can pick it up in the morning and pretty much get started. Usually I do a review and add to it.

– I typically work from about 6:30 am to about 9:30 am without a break. My wife is often up by this time so we have breakfast.

– Back to work from about 10:00 am to lunch time, which can vary. I usually try to get through everything that needs to get done by lunch.

– Eat Diet-to-go lunch. Watch part of a movie, errands, or read.

– I usually work in a little meditation in the afternoon. Not long (or not as long as I probably should). Usually 12 minutes.

– Home office. Check in on emails. Review legal pad of to-dos. Add some more. Cross some more off. It’s pretty much a dance I do all day. Adding and crossing off as my work demands.

– My brain is usually mush around 3:00 pm for anything that I’m not completely excited about (that’s the downside to being a knowledge worker). But by this point, I’ve already put in an 8-hour day.

– The rest of my day is playtime. Although since I love what I do, I typically put in a little more work on the things that I’m excited about. I read some more, go to a movie theater, or just kill time around the house. Occasionally, I meet up with friends, but again, not as often as I would like (9-5 jobs keep you busy!).

– I eat dinner around 6:00 pm. I log meals and exercise on my Up band as I go.

– I usually start to set up tomorrow by about 7:00 pm. I make sure I write down things that need to get done.

– I finish my day by spending time with my family. Reading or watching TV.

– Set Up band to sleep mode. Fall asleep by 9:30pm.

So, there you go. That’s my basic routine. Now, I’m a morning person (and have worked hard to become so), so take from this what you will. In my opinion, my routine is one of my strongest supports. It ensures that I take care of the stuff that is important to me before it becomes urgent. My health, my career, my family, my soul are all cared for. Every day.