Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

End the University as We Know It

In Author: Lisa Canning, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 29, 2009 at 3:16 am

This article appeared on April 26th, 2009 in the New York Times and was written by Mark C. Taylor. Mark C. Taylor is the chairman of the religion department at Columbia University in New York. He is also the author of the forthcoming “Field Notes From Elsewhere: Reflections on Dying and Living.”

For all you IE (Intellectual Entrepreneurship) fans out there, could this be said any better? In fact, this article is so spot on that it will also appear on the ETA website that is days away from launching.

Bloggers, might you like to weigh in on this article in your next post?
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GRADUATE education is the Detroit of higher learning. Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is no market (candidates for teaching positions that do not exist) and develop skills for which there is diminishing demand (research in subfields within subfields and publication in journals read by no one other than a few like-minded colleagues), all at a rapidly rising cost (sometimes well over $100,000 in student loans).

Widespread hiring freezes and layoffs have brought these problems into sharp relief now. But our graduate system has been in crisis for decades, and the seeds of this crisis go as far back as the formation of modern universities. Kant, in his 1798 work “The Conflict of the Faculties,” wrote that universities should “handle the entire content of learning by mass production, so to speak, by a division of labor, so that for every branch of the sciences there would be a public teacher or professor appointed as its trustee.”

Unfortunately this mass-production university model has led to separation where there ought to be collaboration and to ever-increasing specialization. In my own religion department, for example, we have 10 faculty members, working in eight subfields, with little overlap. And as departments fragment, research and publication become more and more about less and less. Each academic becomes the trustee not of a branch of the sciences, but of limited knowledge that all too often is irrelevant for genuinely important problems. A colleague recently boasted to me that his best student was doing his dissertation on how the medieval theologian Duns Scotus used citations.

The emphasis on narrow scholarship also encourages an educational system that has become a process of cloning. Faculty members cultivate those students whose futures they envision as identical to their own pasts, even though their tenures will stand in the way of these students having futures as full professors.

The dirty secret of higher education is that without underpaid graduate students to help in laboratories and with teaching, universities couldn’t conduct research or even instruct their growing undergraduate populations. That’s one of the main reasons we still encourage people to enroll in doctoral programs. It is simply cheaper to provide graduate students with modest stipends and adjuncts with as little as $5,000 a course — with no benefits — than it is to hire full-time professors.

In other words, young people enroll in graduate programs, work hard for subsistence pay and assume huge debt burdens, all because of the illusory promise of faculty appointments. But their economical presence, coupled with the intransigence of tenure, ensures that there will always be too many candidates for too few openings.

The other obstacle to change is that colleges and universities are self-regulating or, in academic parlance, governed by peer review. While trustees and administrations theoretically have some oversight responsibility, in practice, departments operate independently. To complicate matters further, once a faculty member has been granted tenure he is functionally autonomous. Many academics who cry out for the regulation of financial markets vehemently oppose it in their own departments.

If American higher education is to thrive in the 21st century, colleges and universities, like Wall Street and Detroit, must be rigorously regulated and completely restructured. The long process to make higher learning more agile, adaptive and imaginative can begin with six major steps:

1. Restructure the curriculum, beginning with graduate programs and proceeding as quickly as possible to undergraduate programs. The division-of-labor model of separate departments is obsolete and must be replaced with a curriculum structured like a web or complex adaptive network. Responsible teaching and scholarship must become cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural.

Just a few weeks ago, I attended a meeting of political scientists who had gathered to discuss why international relations theory had never considered the role of religion in society. Given the state of the world today, this is a significant oversight. There can be no adequate understanding of the most important issues we face when disciplines are cloistered from one another and operate on their own premises.

It would be far more effective to bring together people working on questions of religion, politics, history, economics, anthropology, sociology, literature, art, religion and philosophy to engage in comparative analysis of common problems. As the curriculum is restructured, fields of inquiry and methods of investigation will be transformed.

2. Abolish permanent departments, even for undergraduate education, and create problem-focused programs. These constantly evolving programs would have sunset clauses, and every seven years each one should be evaluated and either abolished, continued or significantly changed. It is possible to imagine a broad range of topics around which such zones of inquiry could be organized: Mind, Body, Law, Information, Networks, Language, Space, Time, Media, Money, Life and Water.

Consider, for example, a Water program. In the coming decades, water will become a more pressing problem than oil, and the quantity, quality and distribution of water will pose significant scientific, technological and ecological difficulties as well as serious political and economic challenges. These vexing practical problems cannot be adequately addressed without also considering important philosophical, religious and ethical issues. After all, beliefs shape practices as much as practices shape beliefs.

A Water program would bring together people in the humanities, arts, social and natural sciences with representatives from professional schools like medicine, law, business, engineering, social work, theology and architecture. Through the intersection of multiple perspectives and approaches, new theoretical insights will develop and unexpected practical solutions will emerge.

3. Increase collaboration among institutions. All institutions do not need to do all things and technology makes it possible for schools to form partnerships to share students and faculty. Institutions will be able to expand while contracting. Let one college have a strong department in French, for example, and the other a strong department in German; through teleconferencing and the Internet both subjects can be taught at both places with half the staff. With these tools, I have already team-taught semester-long seminars in real time at the Universities of Helsinki and Melbourne.

4. Transform the traditional dissertation. In the arts and humanities, where looming cutbacks will be most devastating, there is no longer a market for books modeled on the medieval dissertation, with more footnotes than text. As financial pressures on university presses continue to mount, publication of dissertations, and with it scholarly certification, is almost impossible. (The average university press print run of a dissertation that has been converted into a book is less than 500, and sales are usually considerably lower.) For many years, I have taught undergraduate courses in which students do not write traditional papers but develop analytic treatments in formats from hypertext and Web sites to films and video games. Graduate students should likewise be encouraged to produce “theses” in alternative formats.

5. Expand the range of professional options for graduate students. Most graduate students will never hold the kind of job for which they are being trained. It is, therefore, necessary to help them prepare for work in fields other than higher education. The exposure to new approaches and different cultures and the consideration of real-life issues will prepare students for jobs at businesses and nonprofit organizations. Moreover, the knowledge and skills they will cultivate in the new universities will enable them to adapt to a constantly changing world.

6. Impose mandatory retirement and abolish tenure. Initially intended to protect academic freedom, tenure has resulted in institutions with little turnover and professors impervious to change. After all, once tenure has been granted, there is no leverage to encourage a professor to continue to develop professionally or to require him or her to assume responsibilities like administration and student advising. Tenure should be replaced with seven-year contracts, which, like the programs in which faculty teach, can be terminated or renewed. This policy would enable colleges and universities to reward researchers, scholars and teachers who continue to evolve and remain productive while also making room for young people with new ideas and skills.

For many years, I have told students, “Do not do what I do; rather, take whatever I have to offer and do with it what I could never imagine doing and then come back and tell me about it.” My hope is that colleges and universities will be shaken out of their complacency and will open academia to a future we cannot conceive.

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My Answer to the Question…

In Author: Whitney Ferre, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 28, 2009 at 8:27 am

What part has creativity played in your life? (As asked by Wayne of Creative Skills Training Council in New Zealand.) In the two houses in which I grew up, my mother and I created an “Art Center” under the stairways going down to the basement. We painted the first one all yellow and the second one was all red. Both times we bought stencils and spray painted the words, “Art Center” on the small triangle of wall under the stairs. There were shelves and all kinds of art supplies. Only really advanced and fancy projects were encouraged! Favorites were covering bottles with masking tape and staining them with shoe polish (to look like leather I guess? It was the 70’s…) and dripping old crayons onto salad dressing bottles to use as candle sticks. Instead of lemonade, I sold tooth pillows on the corner that I had sewn from fabric scraps. I STILL grew up saying that I could not draw and that I was not artistic. But, I was always told that I was creative. Maybe that is why I have been drawn to a bit of a pioneer existence. I have thrived on blazing new trails, even if they were just new for me personally. Don’t tell me I “can’t do” something. That will get my wheels spinning! For me, my creative spirit means that I will have no regrets when I look back on my life because I have never/at least rarely said “that can’t be done” or “I can’t make that work”. I have climbed mountains, sold books door to door, opened 4 small businesses (including an art center and a restaurant), and gotten off to a stellar start raising three little kids! When I visit with others who did not receive the creative encouragement that I did, they are often frustrated in their current situation and don’t seem to realize that they have the power to create change in their lives. It makes me sad and wish I could sprinkle some creativity dust over them so they would strike out into the unknown to create the life they desire. To that end, I am doing the best I can. I am the author of a newly published book, The Artist Within, A Guide to Becoming Creatively Fit. The “Artist Within” is what I call our right brain voice. It is the voice that is focused on the big picture, unconcerned with your past failures or any fear of future worries. Becoming “Creatively Fit” is about our physiological ability to strengthen our mental capabilities, specifically our right brain/creative muscles. The book is a future best seller and readers are energized and inspired by what they read and their own personal experience as they brave the blank canvas and the canvas that is their lives! So creativity has truly been the unifying force of my life and the magic I love to share!

by Whitney Ferre' (sold)

by Whitney Ferre' (sold)

Leaving the Program, Finding the Vision

In Creativity and Innovation, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution on April 27, 2009 at 9:38 am

It has been almost a year since I left the University of Texas and the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Consortium. It wasn’t an easy thing to do. Leaving, that is. IE has become, as Tommy Darwin so compellingly argued a couple of weeks ago right here on ETA, a life force at one of the nation’s largest public universities. What began as bold initiative by professor Rick Cherwitz in the late 1990s is now a nationally recognized maverick—that’s right, I’m reclaiming the word!—in the herd mentality of university administration. IE supports and challenges faculty, staff, and students at all levels to think like entrepreneurs, to be innovative inventors and thinkers, to tolerate ambiguity, to seek allies, and to make bold moves. It is inspiring to see, and it was exciting to a part of.

 

Starting in August of 2005 I served as director of one of IE’s successful “programs”: the Pre-Graduate School Internship. (I place “program” in quotations marks to indicate the difference between traditional academic silo-mentality programming and new initiatives that grow from the IE platform. But that’s another post for another time). My primary responsibility as director was to oversee and advise about 80 undergraduate interns each semester. I lead regular meetings wherein the interns addressed those concerns that transcend disciplinary lines (e.g. application processes, funding, academic versus professional careers, life-work balance, etc.). Between meetings, I facilitated communication with interns and graduate student mentors, allowing them to share reflections on their works in progress.

 

The nuts ‘n bolts: The Pre-Graduate School Internship enables undergraduate students to earn academic credit working closely with a “faculty supervisor” and/or “graduate student mentor” to explore their chosen field of study. Interns learn about the unique aspects of graduate study that make it distinct from their undergraduate experience. Examples of internship activities include: attending graduate school classes, shadowing graduate student teaching and research assistants, attending seminars and departmental colloquia, interviewing faculty, collaborating with mentors on research projects, traveling to meetings of graduate and professional organizations, working in research labs and discussing graduate study and career development with faculty, professionals and graduate students.  Additionally, all IE students keep a personal journal and attend workshops/meetings where they reflect on their experiences and exchange insights about themselves and the culture of academia.

 

The Big Picture: Pre-Graduate School Internship and its sister programs are sponsored by the University of Texas Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement. Each semester, 50% of participants are underrepresented minorities (African American, Latino or Native American) and/or first-generation (neither parent graduated from college) students. Almost 70% are female. The philosophy of intellectual entrepreneurship—empowering students to design and own a learning experience that unites their passions and academic interests—accounts for much of this effect. For example, rather than focusing exclusively on students already interested in graduate study and helping them navigate the application process, the Pre-Graduate School Internship provides an opportunity for students to discover their personal aspirations and explore the value of academic disciplines. The program’s mechanism for increasing diversity inheres in its capacity to help students discover otherwise unobserved connections between academia and personal and professional commitments. Interns become “intellectual entrepreneurs,” identifying their personal and professional goals, and discovering how advanced education can bring them to fruition; this includes acquiring an understanding of how graduate education equips students for meaningful civic or community engagement.

 

Leaving wasn’t easy. During my tenure as director, the Internship grew from fifteen students in the first semester to nearly one hundred in the spring of 2008, and now over a hundred. That’s not my being boastful; the Internship’s success attests not to one person’s creativity or organizational skills, but to an exigency in the academy. It is telling us that a need exists, for students as well as faculty. Just as some faculty seek new ways of being innovative problem solvers, engaging with the community around them in ways other than service delivery, so do students want to approach their college careers in less mechanistic ways than are currently the norm. “Entrepreneurial” doesn’t mean “corporate.” Let us use the term for its best possible potential: entrepreneurship is the realization of creative energy. And if that’s too touchy-feely for you, think of it as wielding power—intellectual, political, social, economic, artistic, collaborative.

 

While leaving a good thing is never easy, it often leads to other good things. In my current position as an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL I am realizing that, while IE is continually challenged at UT, things are in motion there; on many other campuses, the fundamental philosophy that sustains IE as a “program” has yet to be introduced. That is the thrill of a new phase. And that will likely be the trajectory of my future postings.

The Outward Artist

In Author: David Cutler, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box on April 26, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Yes, the subject of arts entrepreneurship is in vogue these days. It’s no longer gauche to discuss the business aspects of a career. That’s great news for artists that prefer not to live a destitute existence. But what exactly does arts entrepreneurship constitute? For universities embracing this topic, classes typically cover a lot of ground: writing resumes, developing websites, copyright law, forming a nonprofit, filing taxes.  While all these lessons are valuable indeed, one vital aspect seems to be consistently ignored: product development. Instead, the lessons taught suggest that if you simply become more business savvy and employ great marketing tactics, you will find success.

Well, I have news for you. If people aren’t interest in the art you’re peddling, sales will be dismal! Not all products have the potential to thrive, even if your marketing campaign is the most exciting thing since the Gecko signed on with Geico. So I’d like to focus the next several postings on this critical issue—What art do you deliver?  What makes your product(s) viable?

I was recently one of a handful of people to attend a music recital. The “crowd” reacted unenthusiastically to the performance of a strange assortment of compositions, even though the playing was strong. After the show, it became apparent that the musician was disappointed. He worked so hard.  Why weren’t more people interested? And why didn’t those who attended reward him with passionate ovations?

So I asked, “Why did you program this particular collection of pieces?” The response was predictable: “I’ve always loved these works.” In other words, he chose what he wanted to play, without ever considering the perspective of his audience. Me, me, me. This self-indulgent, inward-looking perspective runs rampant among artists. Is it any wonder the performance was a flop? It’s analogous to the time Homer Simpson gifted Marge a bowling ball. Why wouldn’t she love partaking in his favorite activity?

No successful industry operates like this. Restaurants serve cuisine that customers enjoy. Movie theaters show films people want to see. Stores sell merchandise that consumers need (or at least have been convinced they need). If not, they usually fail, and quickly.

Now, I’m completely in favor of producing art that is personally meaningful. Of course, there is a place for compositions that are more fun to perform than hear, dances more interesting to choreograph than watch, and painting techniques more fulfilling to master than examine. By all means, explore these paths. Savor the challenges, and use them to nurture personal growth.

But if you bring art to the public, value their perspective as well. What do they want? Or better yet, what do they need? Solve a real problem…Connect to their interests…

Become an outward artist.

 

Some Thoughts and Blogs on Entrepreneurship by Kelvin Legal

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 26, 2009 at 10:44 am

I like the idea of being self-employed.

One day I hope to be able to run my own business, perhaps even run a law firm (whether as a partner or by starting my own remains to be seen since I am still in law school).

Entrepreneurship has hit the mainstream in a big way. Where once people preferred the protection and stability of a good-paying job, more and more people are now jumping on the entrepreneurship bandwagon or being encouraged to do so.

Of course, running a business isn’t easy. If it was, almost everyone would be doing it. And I guess that’s where the biggest problem is. Fear.

There is a lot of fear involved when one opens up your own business or start your own law firm or even just jump into your own sideline. There is a lot of uncertainty and a large chance of failure.

But that doesn’t stop most people. And it shouldn’t, because the rewards for going into entrepreneurship are amazing. A strong sense of self-control, possibly tons of money (if it succeeds) and an opportunity to do something you like for the rest of your life.

I know one day I’ll jump into the whole business thing myself like my sister did. But for now, I’m just biding my time, studying the law and trying to brainstorm for possible businesses.

Until then, here are a couple of great blogs and websites on entrepreneurship you should check out (in no particular order).

1.) Instigator Blog – the blog of the CEO of Standout jobs, which is a promising internet start-up.

2.) Pinoy Web Startup — a Filipino webstart up I discovered recently. Marie Casas, one of the founders of Pigmata Media, and the author of the Pinoy Web Startup Blog, was even featured in MoneySense magazine.

3.) Open for Business – a new blog by the editor of SME Insight which is published by the Inquirer. New but very promising.

4.) Reflections of a Bizdrivenlife – Wilson Ng is one of the earliest business bloggers I know and runs a successful computer business which distributes to Visayas and Mindanao.

5.) Go Negosyo – the brainchild of Joey Concepcion who is a strong advocate of opening up your own business.

6.) The Brazen Careerist – the ultimate startup for career bloggers and the like. Founded by Penelope Trunk and the Ryans of Employee Evolution, you should check out their blog posts on starting up a business. Really great stuff and offers a different perspective.

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Brazen Careerist Network but I read and enjoyed their blogposts on start-ups BEFORE I was asked to join. So I recommend their posts on a very unbiased basis.)

7.) Guy Kawasaki’s Blog – probably the ultimate web start up guy. He has founded a number of businesses and was even once connected to Apple as one of their tech evangelists. he has also written a number of books on technology and start-ups.

8.) What Would Dad Say – a great blog by G.L Hoffman, an American baby boomer who has successfully founded a number of start-ups. He has a great post on the 100 attributes needed to become a successful entrepreneur.

Do You Know CPS?

In Author: Adam Shames on April 25, 2009 at 5:01 am

This week I spent a day with a group of IT leaders from one of America’s great companies (whose meals have made billions happy). With our goal being to make strategy recommendations to improve a technology process, I conducted a Creative Problem Solving (CPS) session to collectively harness creative thinking to address a complex challenge.

Most of the problems we face in our culture, business and lives need creativity, but few of us know about CPS, a valuable process that has been discussed, tested and evaluated for more than 50 years. Originating from the brainstorming work of advertising pioneer Alex Osborn (whose book Applied Imagination is still the bible on brainstorming), each year hundreds of educators, researchers and businessfolks gather to discuss and learn CPS at CPSI–the Creative Problem Solving Institute–held in Boston this June.

Historically, the creative process was seen in some ways as mysterious, and included “incubation,” or time away from a problem, before “illumination” or an “Aha moment” hit you (perhaps in the shower). CPS, sometimes called “deliberate creativity,” has taken a little mystery out by identifying and separating practical steps, captured in the graphic above, that are universal and that lead to the most creative solutions. We all need to learn CPS.

Two quick observations to point out about my session:
1. The first phase, Clarifying, was a key part of our work–the more time we spent understanding what the real challenge and real goals were, the more effective the solution-finding.
2. As with any creativity session, separating diverging from converging is essential, but was, as is often the case with very smart adults, not easy for this group. Pure diverging time is needed to explore as many alternatives as possible and spark unusual connections, but no matter how vocally I insisted on “no judging” and “just keep generating and posting” ideas, I often found the participants surreptitiously evaluating, debating and denying. More divergence training needed for all of us!

The power of a CPS session depends on leveraging the diversity of the group and shifting thinking styles from one phase to another. You probably don’t realize that your creative problem solving preferences are quite different from others. You can learn more by taking the FourSight assessment, which I use with teams and is available online.

You Can’t Say That!

In Author: Gwydhar Bratton, Creative Support, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Risk on April 25, 2009 at 4:57 am

Last week I was told to lose the screenplay format for my blogs. It turns out that they were “too different” and that no one was “getting” them. So much for writing in a distinctively film-related style. No one had told me that I was supposed to write prose. Frankly I felt (and still do) quite censored by the whole thing so for my first “normal” blog is on the subject of CENSORSHIP.

Censorship, like gravity, exists as a natural law and will eventually try to pull you down. It is fair to say that every single person will deal with censorship at some point in their life and that creatives will deal with it slightly more often than average because of the subjective nature of art. There are two conflicting facts about censorship which make it so tricky: on one hand, censorship is necessary for the maintenence of society and without it society would not exist. On the other hand, censorship at it’s most basic level prevents innovation, creativity, or variant thinking and prevents society from  evolving. As an Artist (used here to include anyone whose work is creative in nature) how does one find balance between thinking outside the box and respecting the needs of society?

It is easy, but incorrect, to say that censorship comes from external sources. Censorship takes place naturally and subconsciously in the part of the brain called the corpus striatum. When you get an impulse to do something it goes to the striatum which evaluates whether the impulse is  worth pursuing. If it is, then the striatum allows the impulse to travel through to be turned into motor function. This is called “executive function” and if too many impulses are allowed past the striatum a person may develop compulsive behaviors like  kleptomania. Censorship also plays a basic role in society when the individual censors his or her own needs or wants in an effort to conform to a societal norm and to be accepted as part of that society. This happens on the individual level (choosing not to swear in front of children) on the economical level ( forgoing a luxury vacation for themselves in favor of getting health insurance for the family) and on the moral level (choosing not to kill someone because it is “wrong”). Self censorship is the expression of an individual making an effort to be aware of and cater to the needs  of others. In a perfect society, all individuals would behave selflessly in order to meet the needs of all others.

Fortunately, we do not live in a perfect society. Perfection only exists when forces are in balance and when forces are in balance, there is nothing dynamic to cause change. The nature of creativity is to be dynamic- to express what has not already been expressed and to do it in a way that has never been done before. Very often, artists will find that their creativity is encouraged only so far as it fits within the existing status quo and that anything that genuinely breaks the norm is repressed. A good example of this might be the Impressionists- classically trained artists painting classically acceptable scenes but doing it in a wholly innovative way to express the fleeting “impression” of the moment. In their own time, the Impressionists were ridiculed and their paintings were considered “unfinished”, but they opened up the fine art world to the possibility of alternative styles of expression and touched off the expressionists, the futurists, the surrealists, and so on allowing art to evolve into unexplored areas of style.  In their own time, society did not know how to incorporate the Impressionists and so they were rejected in an effort to maintain the status quo but the very fact that the Impressionists did not succumb to this censorship allowed the modern art movement to evolve and forced society to find new ways to understand what “art” meant.

So how does the Artist know when it is best to stand tall in the face of censorship and when it is best to bend to the will of society? This is a question for the individual Artist, so I pose the question to you: If you were told that your work was being done “wrong” because it was different, that the style was ineffective and that “no one would get it”, what would you do? Where would you draw the line between accomodating the needs of others and staying true to your own beliefs?

The purpose of art and Darfur

In Author: Barbara Kite, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 25, 2009 at 4:53 am

What is the purpose of art?  BIG discussion and many different beliefs are out there. 

Here’s mine.  Art must  contribute to making a real difference in the world.  Mia Farrow is fasting for 21 days starting Monday April 27th.  I think of this as performance art. 

It is time we all became more aware of what is going on in Darfur.  We don’t want another Rwanda, although in some ways it’s happening already.  My mother spent time at Ravensbruck concentration camp and I heard stories about he stay from the age of 10.  I wish everyone had.  We need to raise our voices and stop this NOW.

Since the Foreign caregivers have left, there is very little help, food, medicine, shelter for those that really need it and death by starvation and by massacre is coming.  What are you going to do about it?  How can you use your creativity, your passion, your imagination to make the world a better place, starting with Darfur.  Starting NOW.

Here’s a video explaining the history of Darfur to better understand what is going on and how difficult it is to deal with.  Once again, greed, oil is one of the central forces.

Apologies to anyone who thinks this an inappropriate subject for this web site.  I don’t.

Communication and the child within

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 23, 2009 at 5:47 am

Child within?  What does that have to do with public speaking? 

 

Speakers need to be reminded that their imagination and their ability to talk passionately and speak in pictures, is directly connected to how often they release the child within.   

Last night I conducted another amazing Acting Class and it reminds me of the skills public speakers need in order to be great.

 

Be a five year old. 

 

Everyone found a spot on the floor and began imagining their five year old space and whatever popped up was then worked on – tying shoes, waiting for Dad to come home after being bad, setting up toys like soldiers, ballerinas, etc., waiting for a friend to come over and play, hitting someone who took their toy away and on and on.  

 

Everyone learned that they restrict themselves as adults and the excitement is squelched because we are grown ups who are not allowed to express our feelings in an authentic way.  What a pity.  Our heads guide us toward what is acceptable and as years go by we make the rules more and more rigid and the child is no longer heard.

 

The passion, the joy, the commitment, the imagination, the excitement of the child is so necessary in great public speaking.  Have you lost touch with yours?  Where do you go to re-learn to be authentic, to see anew, to play again?

 

I ask for 10 minutes of your time.  Because you can’t THINK what it was like to be a child and try to re-capture it.  You can’t IMITATE your childhood phrases or actions or words and expect to re-capture the child within.  You have to get down and dirty.   This is true of speaking too.  You can’t imitate your idea of what a speech should be or sound like, you must be present as yourself with your voice speaking honestly.

 

You have to put it in the present time and be the child. That means you set some time aside – 10 to 15 minutes.  Find a quite place.  Yes, I know, that doesn’t really exist, but focus and concentrate (another important aspect of public speaking) on your task and nothing else.  Now start imagining your surroundings.  You don’t have to be exact, just go with whatever pops into your head (the subconscious is were your creativity lives), whether it’s a different age, 10 or 2, it doesn’t matter.  If the colors in your room can’t be remembered, just toss in whatever comes up, because it will be there for a good reason.

 

Now start to play.  Don’t force, just let it come to you.  If it’s difficult and you start thinking – DON’T.  Just pick up a toy and start playing and talking to yourself out loud IN THE PRESENT, as if it’s happening right now. 

 

Commitment, focus, imagination, letting go, letting it happen to you instead of making it happen, freedom, authenticity, seeing for the first time and being present (absolutely important for public speakers) are just some of the rewards.  Without releasing the child, you will continue bringing your head, and not your heart, to your communication.   

 

Let me know what happens.  I’d love to talk about it further.

 

 

Understanding Creative People at Work

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2009 at 3:15 am

Although creativity is a new buzzword for desirable in the business world, the creative traits that are desired by many employers are not the same as the traits displayed by many creative personalities. Employers and organizations, who are looking for creative personalities, are generally looking for people who will use creative thinking towards any end the company picks (Warner, 2008). In short, these work environments measure creativity by the results produced. This demand, placed by these organizations and employers, is in direct opposition to the actual needs of the creative personality. Koch (1992) discovered that highly creative people are frequently blocked when they need to produce on demand. This example helps to demonstrate the difference between the creativity sought by organizations and the actual needs and abilities of the creative person.

A person with a creative personality type faces specific challenges due to the fact that truly creative ways of thinking and being have been marginalized by our culture (Siner Francis, 2008). This intrinsic misunderstanding of the creative personality within our culture, which shows itself at many levels of thinking from common thought to academic thought (Siner Francis, 2008), leaves the needs of creative personality subject to the same treatment–even from themself. Because of this marginalization, being a creative thinking person and pursuing career sucess frequently means having experiences such as communication challenges or misunderstanding about one’s work style (Vance, 2007). If a creative individual chooses to step outside of the mainstream work world and doesn’t have money and connections, it often means they meet with frustration or, even, failure. Even if a creative person is successful in his or her pursuits, this success can be accompanied by feelings of failure, even then, because the creative individual’s standards and values are not reflected by the world around him or her.

The key to changing this is to increase awareness.

Creativity is important in both conventional work environments and for those who choose to use their creative skills outside them. Frequently, it is only a matter of awareness that makes the difference between productive and happy, and unproductive and miserable. Many creative people I work with do not see some of their personal needs and preferences as being the result of their creative personality. Some try to change these traits in themselves in order to fit in. Some give up and believe that they must settle for being marginalized. The more informed creative people are  about the way they work, the reasons for the way they work, and the incredible benefits of working this way, the more likely they will be able to offer their gifts in a powerful ways.

Topic of next post: What Creative People Need to Succeed

References uses in this post:

Koch, S. (1992a). The aesthetics research center. In D. Finkelman & F. Kessel (Eds.), Psychology in human context, (pp. 43-50). Chicago & London: University of Chicago.

Siner Francis, K. (2007). A Reconstruction of Sigmund Koch’s Artist on Art Project. Can be found at www.largervisions./Articles.html

Vance, C.M., Groves, K.S., Yongsun P., & Kindler, H. (2007) Understanding and measuring linear and non-linear thinking style for enhanced management education and professional practice. Academy of Management, Learning and Education. 6, 2. (pp. 167-185)

Warner, C. (2008) How to manage creative people. Retrieved on: November, 3, 2008 from: http://www.charles warner.us/mgtcreat.html.

The Susan Boyle phenomenon: redefining beauty, grace, and success?

In Author: Lisa Canning, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Interesting Articles on April 22, 2009 at 3:10 am

Susan Boyle and this article below touched a raw nerve for me.

What is wrong with our world to judge ones artistic capacity by ones style (or lack there of), or body shape or weight? Many have said about Susan Boyle ” Oh an ugly woman who can sing!” Does this kind of statement not speak to how desperately the world needs to be taught the value of creative self expression and the authenticity required to create artistic mastery? What on earth does appearance have to do with it?

Why is it that becoming a celebrity means shifting your focus on appearance or taking the wrath from the media if you don’t? It is no wonder that most of the world has trouble recognizing the true capacity of the arts to teach, enlighten and change who we can become when all that we as a country focus on is the appearance of it all. It’s not what’s on the inside that matters right?

I believe for many it is not because of the incredible insecurity and fears we hold about our true potential in life. It is the bright light that shines within us that most frightens us, which makes it far easier to focus superficially on others and avoid having to face ourselves.

But you see- here is where the rub comes- if you don’t ever take the time to discover and then share the gifts you have hidden inside of you– who will ever know?

I applaud Susan Boyle and Paul Potts and anyone else like either of them willing to risk sharing their gifts- their true purpose in life- with the world. Susan Boyle’s so called “fumpy” appearance is not what I see when I hear her sing. I see a woman who is allowing her life to be revealed to all who will dare to see and hold her close.

What a brave woman to come as herself to sing. What astonishing wisdom to not get caught up in the trappings of superficial illusions but instead stay true to herself and the richness of her true self expression.

And to you Simon Cowell– your initial reaction to Susan Boyle’s appearance, and attempt to conceal it with your comment at the end of this clip, makes it clear you have little room in your life for emotional intelligence. But that’s Hollywood for you, right?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________
By Ben Quinn | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the April 21, 2009 edition
oboyle_p1LONDON – It was to her elderly mother, sometime before she passed away, that Susan Boyle pledged she would “do something” with her life.

Two years on from that loss, she honored that promise with a now almost legendary appearance on a British television talent show.

A video clip of the Scot winning over skeptical judges and a cynical crowd with a rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.” from the musical “Les Misérables” has been viewed more than 40 million times, making it one of the most popular YouTube videos ever posted.

The youngest of nine, Ms. Boyle is an unlikely global star. Or is she?

She’s a middle-aged woman from a village called Blackburn in Scotland’s West Lothian region, where she lives alone with her cat, Pebbles. Her unruly hair and spinster image have long attracted taunts from local children, an echo of the bullying she endured as a girl. Several times a week, she serves as a volunteer at Our Lady of Lourdes church, visiting elderly members of the congregation.

The mass media – especially in the United States – are now hugging Boyle close ahead of a second performance (May 23) on the television show “Britain’s Got Talent.”

CAPTURING THE DOUBTS – AND HOPES – OF MILLIONS

But her sudden rise to popularity is prompting many commentators, even those not usually noted for their interest in light entertainment, to find a deeper meaning in her performance.

“Boyle let me feel … the meaning of human grace…. She reordered the measure of beauty. And I had no idea until the tears sprang how desperately I need that corrective,” wrote Robert Canfield, a professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., in his blog where he typically comments on Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.

Dr. Canfield says, in response to emailed questions, that Boyle captured “the hopes of a multitude.”

Her performance resonates with millions, he says, because “most of us in our heart of hearts have severe doubts about ourselves.

“So when a Susan Boyle appears on stage before a clearly condescending audience in a society that can read class status in every move, the hairdo, the dress, she appears as a loser. And we feel for her. We see how precarious her position is, how vulnerable she is, and we feel for her,” he writes in his email.

“We can see in her an objectification of what we fear about ourselves. So when she comes forth with that voice, that music – as if we have discovered Judy Garland at the age of 47 – we are thrilled. She’s going to make it, we think. She’s going to win (!). And we unconsciously invest ourselves in her achievement.”

IS BOYLE LIKE OBAMA?

Patricia Williams, a professor of law at Columbia University in New York, likened Boyle’s story to the election of Barack Obama in an op-ed piece for Britain’s Observer newspaper headlined: “I know those sneers. I’ve heard them too.”

“Boyle’s ability to up-end conventional preconceptions is akin to what the ‘black is beautiful’ movement of the 1970s tried to accomplish: a debunking of surface-based biases in favour of deeper commitments to fairness, intelligence, courage, humility, patience, re-examined aesthetics and the willingness to listen,” wrote Professor Williams.

“Dismissing her – or anyone – based on careless expectations about what age or lack of employment supposedly signify is the habit of mind common to all forms of prejudice.”

The Times of London asked Boyle, given how much importance the entertainment industry places on appearance, might she succumb to pressure to have a makeover?

“Maybe I’ll consider a makeover later on,” she told the Times with a laugh. “For now I’m happy the way I am – short and plump. I would not go in for Botox or anything like that. I’m content with the way I look. What’s wrong with looking like Susan Boyle? What’s the matter with that?”

THE SIMON COWELL FACTOR

One of Boyle’s fellow Scots, Alison Kennedy, a writer and comedian, says that some cynicism has also emerged around her meteoric rise and who might profit by it. But it’s focused on Simon Cowell, judge, producer and creator of “Britain’s Got Talent.” Yes, the same Simon Cowell on “American Idol.”

Mr. Cowell stands to make a lot of money from Boyle, who he has predicted would have a No. 1 record in the US.

Nevertheless, Ms. Kennedy adds: “People are still pleased for her, and it’s clear that she has a particular talent. People are fond of her, even if they are not fond of Simon Cowell.”

All eyes are now looking to Boyle’s May 23 performance on the talent show, which promises the ultimate winner – the opportunity to perform in front of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Elaine Paige, the singer whom Boyle has said she would like to emulate, has also suggested the two might one day record a duet.

In the meantime, Boyle herself has told reporters camped outside her home that she is “taking it all in my stride.”

“It’s all been complete mayhem, like a whirlwind going like an express train. I never expected all this attention. It’s been indescribable and completely mad. But I could get used to it,” she told the Observer.

CPSI Conference!

In Current Events, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 21, 2009 at 8:19 pm

I will be presenting a PACE session at this year’s CPSI Conference, taking place in June 2009 in Boston.  Go to www.cpsiconference.org to check it out.

CPSI_09_Banner

At the conference I will be presenting about the Principles of Design and problem solving.  The Principles of Design have been used by artists for centuries to create successful images.  These same principles can be applied to identify organizational strengths and weaknesses, to access right brain thinking and to provide direction for creative problem solving. While proportion, harmony, repetition, contrast and balance have long been identified as key elements of the visual arts, they have yet to be widely applied to the art that is our life and our life’s work. 

sommet-group-mural

This is an example of the Group Mural Project I facilitate with corporate clients.  This one was created by the team at The Sommet Group.  Each square was created by a different memeber of the team.  All they saw was the little square I gave them.  They had no idea of the finished image and, of course, most of them has zero confidence in their artistic ability!  Isn’t it gorgeous!?!?  How do you think they feel now?  They learned that they can’t put limits on their beliefs and that, as a team, they can create amazing change!  It is now hanging in their training room and they refer to it at the beginning of almost every meeting to get into their right brains so that they can innovate change!

Check out the blogs below for other creative approaches to problem solving and to meet some incredible people that will also be at CPSI this year!

http://rosemaryrein.typepad.com/rosemary_rein_keynote_spe/

The Nature of Creativity

In Author: Michael Gold, Creativity and Innovation, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 20, 2009 at 3:56 am

In 1975 the Sociologist Rollo May published a series of essays about the nature of creativity.

He begins with these words:

We are living at a time when one age is dying and the new age is not yet born.

A choice confronts us. Shall we, as we feel our foundations shaking, withdraw in anxiety and panic? Frightened by a loss of our familiar mooring places, shall we become paralyzed and cover our inaction with apathy?

If we do those things we will have surrendered our chance to participate in the forming of the future. We will have forfeited the distinctive characteristic of human beings- namely to influence our evolution through our own awareness. We will have capitulated to the blind juggernaut of history and lost the chance to mold the future into a society more equitable and humane.

Or shall we seize the courage necessary to preserve our sensitivity, awareness and responsibility in the face of radical change?

We are called upon to do something new, to confront a no man’s land, to push into a forest where there are no well worn paths and from which no one has returned to guide us.

To live into the future means to leap into the unknown, and this requires a degree of courage for which there is no immediate precedent and which few people realize.

The name of his book is The Courage to Create.

His ideas from 40 years ago are perhaps even more meaningful in the world we find ourselves in today.

40 years ago May was speaking to artists, psychologists, philosophers and academics. Today his words are an imperative for every one of us.

For the past ten years I have been involved in an emerging field that uses the arts to help people in the realm of business, education and organizations understand and appreciate the creative process.

What is it about the artistic perspective that makes it so relevant to these supposedly non-artistic fields? Particularly at this point in time?

The world of art and the world business are two of the oldest human disciplines and they emerged at roughly the same time in the history of the human race. It wasn’t until about 300 years ago that an artificial separation occurred. The world of “the arts” became this rarefied domain where only the artistically gifted could venture.

The rest of us were to be the audience the appreciators.

That separation has had negative implications for our culture that were not immediately apparent. Separating the world of arts from the world of commerce and everyday life was like separating the heart from the brain and deprived both realms of essential perspectives that we need to sustain the balance between the spiritual and the worldly aspects of human being.

What do we think of as Art?

Paintings, Sculptures, Orchestral Scores

Wonderful objects that bring to a stand certain ontological truths that the artist “knew” about the time and the world in which they lived.

One aspect often overlooked  about “art” and it’s purpose in the world is is the idea that the “how” of art has something important to teach people who may not think of themselves as artists.

As beautiful and valuable our “objects de art” are to us they sit on display in museums or are produced in magnificent halls at specific times and places for which we need to step out of our normal lives to engage.

This is the “what” of art

But have you ever wondered about how that object came to be?

I call this process the how of art and while it’s true that not everyone is capable of or interested in making art or music there is a great deal that can be learned about improving human relationships from the “how” of the artistic process that process through which we connect with and give expression to our deepest human nature in forms other than words.

Most business people I work with are taken aback when I suggest that they are artists. But think about it- the “what” of business may be a contract, a product, or a transfer of value but each of those things came to be through the relationship of people to one another. And it is that “how”- the way people interrelate in business that creates, shapes and defines the quality of the world we all live in together.

The creative imagination that invents micro financing for individuals in India or develops wind and solar energy technology that can deliver at the scale we need or discovers new designs in bio-technonlogy to cure disease or strengthen the food chain is the same creative imagination that creates the paintings, sculptures music and dance we define as art

But the organizational behavior of Business does not take place in the nurturing environments of artists studios or the concert halls. It happens in social arenas that are usually insensitive at best and at worst destructive to the dynamics that enhance and nurture collaborative creative thinking.

 Fifty years ago visionaries like Rollo May began to sense that our creative capacity was not keeping up with the complex problems that were rapidly beginning to emerge. He knew these problems would require unprecedented collaboration of creative thinking in order to solve.

What we find at this intersection of the world of art and the world of commerce are the very resources we need to take that creative leap May was talking about. To open wide the realm of our creative capacity and feeling in order to solve problems for which solutions will only come from exploring the deepest levels of our imagination. And that is the realm of the artist from which we separated centuries ago.   

A Creative Nudge and Poem

In Author: Adam Shames, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 20, 2009 at 12:21 am

While these days the Kreativity Network is the name I use for my business–primarily designing and facilitating events, meetings and retreats that spark innovation and creative collaboration in organizations–it was once a thriving network in the San Francisco Bay area supporting individuals to express personal creativity. The operative question then was this: How do we, as adults in a consumerist culture that often wants us to be a spectator more than a creator, actively engage and communicate our unique talent, voice, story, art? Our original name was the Multi-Arts Creativity Network–as I believed then, as I do now, that creativity takes many forms and it is our birthright and obligation to discover and explore our own means of expression, whatever it might be.

At Kreative Evenings, we got to witness and experience multiple ways people were called to create, from the more typical “arts”–writing, acting, music, singing, performing, visual art–to cooking, speaking, sharing a game, a healthy practice, a joke, a technique, a project, a dream. The type of “art” doesn’t matter–it’s the doing, the trying, the exploring your imagination that does.

So while this blog aims to increase our understanding of creativity and its cultural importance, and our ability to think differently, I also want to urge you to create. It’s easy not to, to distract ourselves, so find support and community: team up to encourage each others’ efforts and, ideally, have a goal, performance or sharing opportunity so that your creative work is put out into the world.

Today, as part of National Poetry Month here in Chicago, I’m stirring up my own creativity as a featured poet during a live event. Let me leave you with a poem I will perform later:

Dreaming in Corners

I was dreaming in corners today
but the wall split
and I reached in
without looking
and felt your voice.
It was soft
like the lake
we never fell into.

“When does the summer dream of us?” you asked.

You answered yourself by spreading
our blanket
on the damp ground
near the bare feet
I had grown out of.

Earlier you dropped a whisper
in my shoe
and I was afraid that when I stepped,
it would pop

as secrets often do.

I am an addict and a gambler

In Art, Author: Lisa Canning, Creativity and Innovation, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Health & Wellness, The Idea on April 18, 2009 at 10:29 pm

I am an addict and a gambler. Addicted to my crazy world of creativity and ideas, I gamble every day trying to get what’s inside my head into the outside world to be seen.

I love to see ideas come alive. It is what I was put on this earth to help others do. Some days I am better at it than others.

I live for ideas to bring life enhancing progress, growth and evolutionary change. I live to innovate my life, and the lives of others, with my artistic gifts. What can our tomorrow bring?

You might be thinking, Who are you kidding? But to live this life– I will risk it all.

What about you?

From your friend, the addict and gambler…

Ready. Fire. Aim.

In Author: Lisa Canning, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Risk, The Idea on April 17, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Have you ever fired a gun before? How much time did you spend aiming at your target? Oh, and how many mind games did you play with yourself while you were trying to figure out if you would make that one shot?

I think regardless of if you will admit it or not, we all fantasize about hitting our own personal home run on the first swing right out of the park… Might it be a better fantasy to envision becoming “ready enough”- prepare enough- to simply take a chance and swing to see where you need to sharpen your focus to improve your precision and aim?

Yah, I know–I like the first fantasy better too– its more seductive and sexy. But seriously…

I think in life we spend a lot of time, first in our minds and then through our actions ( or lack thereof), aiming for outcomes that have no basis in our future reality. We spend countless hours “what if-ing” while what can be happening in our lives, to help us truly prepare to aim and hit our bullseye, is marching right on by.

What if you just pull the trigger today so you can see what you really need to do to sharpen your view ?

True failure in life is not one where your target was never hit, but one where you never fully experienced what happens when you repeatedly try to..

Besides–you might just discover you hit a different bullseye that, before, you would have been too busy aiming to ever have seen…

Remembering – An Introduction

In Author: Amy Frazier, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 17, 2009 at 6:38 am

Hello, everyone. I’m excited to be a member of your community. I know Cyriel and John (we were together in New York at the end of March), and have spoken with Lisa on the phone. I’m looking forward to getting to know the rest of you more fully.

I decided to introduce myself to you through the topic of remembrance. I have a background in theatre – 20-some years of acting, directing, producing. I stepped away from performing regularly to write a book (which will perhaps be the subject of a future post; it is a memoire, to continue the theme…). And in the interim, I discovered some benefits about theatre, which I had overlooked when practicing it regularly. I saw how, in the time that I had devoted myself to both my manuscript (sitting, typing), and my job (sitting, on the phone), that my body had left me. Or I, it. I had the sudden sense of being disembodied, cut loose, un-present. I realized that my training and performance experiences had given me tools for being present to the world; but with the time growing longer out of practice, these competencies were becoming dulled.

This was the first remembrance.

I wasn’t happy about the realization. However, it did also bring to mind the possibility that many, many other people could be feeling the same way, only they might not even realize it. At that moment (and I can still remember the small cubicle in which it occurred) I began this journey, with the mission to bring the liveliness of the arts, and especially theatre, to those who may not know that such things are possible within the culture of daily work and life.

I had been chugging along that curving entrepreneurial path, when one of my colleagues engaged me in developing an experiential learning program called PCI Adventure. (PCI stands for Passion, Creativity and Innovation.) He charged me with conducting research on creativity to support the program activities. He gave me a book budget and free reign at the local Borders Bookstore. I went, I browsed, I purchased. Arms full of books representing many different perspectives on the subject of creativity, I began with Phil Cousineau: Stoking the Creative Fires: 9 Ways to Rekindle Passion and Imagination.

Thus began the second remembrance.

Cousineau, a writer, filmmaker and mythologist, describes the creative process as a sort of Hero’s Journey. But there’s a difference. Instead of going forward into the world, to Cousineau the journey of creativity is “back and down—back in time and down into the soul’s depths.” His book is impassioned, romantic and in its own way, unsparing. And it reminded me that I used to experience a somewhat different orientation to the world, one that had been richer in numinousness and curiousity. (I suspect the two qualities are symbiotic.)

This remembrance was also a complicated one for me. Though I was very glad for it. I resolved to remain aware of this energy and to keep the flame lit, even (and especially) as I continue to move forward into the very different energies of the corporate and organizational worlds.

So far, it’s a fascinating journey. Since beginning the program research on creativity last fall, one thing has led to another, and now I’m starting a graduate program in creativity studies at the University of Buffalo. When I’m done, I will have an MS degree. The “S” for science both surprises and excites me, having circled the question of an MFA for more years than I would like to count. I know that I will need to keep remembering, and remembering, and remembering as this new process unfolds. I know that it will be the “back and down” creative journey that will keep my course true, as I move forward.

I’m very pleased to know you at this juncture in my life; to know of your projects and your passions, and to introduce you to mine. One of the blogs had commented upon how so many of us are moving forward in the direction of world-change, with the conviction that powerful intentions to create a life of balance and beauty, relationship and justice can actually make a difference, and that the arts are uniquely positioned to effect this change. I feel the same way. That’s the flame to keep alight. I’m honored to be in your company, and I look forward to the journey. Back and down. Forward and up.

It’s not about you

In Author: Barbara Kite, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 16, 2009 at 2:55 am

How do you prepare yourself to tell the world about your gift as an artist, as an entrepreneur?

 

As an Acting Coach and Public Speaking Coach I deal with artists and presenters of all sorts who want to effectively communicate their gift.  What is your gift?  Can you put it in a sentence?  Are you passionate about it?  Do you realize that it can change people’s lives?  Do you focus on this when you speak, because it’s not about you, it’s about the gift you are giving.  If you have nothing to give to an audience, don’t speak. 

 

My gift is the ability to inspire and validate artists and speakers helping them realize that their gift makes a difference and teaching them acting skills and authenticity to deliver it effectively.

An inspiring video on validation

 

What stands in your way?  What stops you from becoming a dynamic speaker?

 

Fear?

Fear of what?  There are many I have heard throughout the years.  Here are a few.

 

“I’ll make a fool of myself!” 

 

                        “What if I lose my place?”

 

       “I really don’t know that much.”

 

“I’m boring.”

                                                “What if I freeze up?”

                       

What is your specific fear?  Become friends with your “doubter”.  Know it on an intimate basis.  And address it. 

 

Involvement is the enemy of tension. 

 

 Be involved in what your gift can do to help your audience and the attention will be on that, not yourself.

 

But how can you be involved if you are watching, judging, directing, and scaring yourself?  You can’t.

 

So let’s address it!

 

Let’s start at the very beginning – feeding that all important brain of yours.   Deep Breathing.  Have you heard it so much you’re sick of it?  I know I am.  And yet, over and over again it comes up.  Deep inhalation and exhalation – extremely important to relaxation, centering, feeding of the brain.  Eight slow breaths in, hold on four and out on seven breaths.  Do that three times.

 

Now imagine yourself in front of a large crowd giving a speech or better yet, remember the last bad experience speaking.  Now ask yourself what were the thoughts you had at that time?  Any of the ones mentioned above? 

 

Write them down and deal with them one at a time. Be specific.  And then ask yourself “Is this true?”  “Am I boring?”  “Do I not know enough about my subject?”  The answer is NO.  You must pay close attention to these “doubters” and stop them dead with a big resounding NO.  You see most of the time you don’t address them and they just build, getting stronger and stronger every time. You validate them every time you do not address them, letting them affect your self-worth.  So, first say NO.  Then tell the truth.  What is the truth?  Ask yourself. 

 

“I’ll make a fool of myself!”  You will, plan on it, so be prepared to acknowledge it when it happens.  Say it out loud to the audience.  “Well, I sure screwed up.”  They’ll love you for it.  They’ll appreciate your humanity.  They’ll feel you are just like them.  They will trust you.  Some professional speakers purposely screw up just so they can get the confidence of the audience.  And just think if you get that one fear out of the way, you can focus on your gift.

 

“What if I lose my place?”  I was speaking to the Portland Female Executives at a lovely Hotel in downtown Portland.  I’d sent out questionnaires ahead of time asking what they were most afraid of.  Many said they were afraid of forgetting their place in their speech.  So halfway through my presentation, I stopped, and said “Well, I’ve forgotten what’s next.”  I then walked over to the podium about 5 feet away, rifled through my notes, and finally came up with the next thing to say.  At this point I looked closely at everyone and said “Do you think less of me because I forgot my place?” “Do you think my information is less valuable then it was before I forgot my place?”  Everyone shook their head saying “oh no, no.”  “Then why do you think you will be judged if you lose your place in a speech?” I said.

 

 “I really don’t know that much.”  I have heard this one more often than any other.  What most people don’t realize is that they are an expert in their field.  They’ve spent years learning through experience, classes, books and conversation, their particular gift.  I remember when I first started Public Speaking Coaching.  I told one of my Acting Students, “People already know all this.”  She looked at me amazed.  “You’re crazy,” she said.  “You know this stuff because you’ve lived with it day in and day out for years.  It’s second nature to you.  But the general public doesn’t have a clue.”  I found out she was right with the first workshop I did.  I had such a tremendous response for the gift I’d given, that I never questioned whether I didn’t know my subject.  Write it down, right now.  I AM AN EXPERT IN MY FIELD and put it somewhere where you can see it daily.

 

“I’m boring.”  I coached a College professor who said that exact same thing.  I asked, “What makes you think that?”  He said “When I was in Grade 6 and gave a speech, three boys told me I was boring.”  “And you have held on to that and let it grow all these years letting it stand in the way, haven’t you?” I said.  “Yes,” he replied.  We worked on making friends with that “doubter” and never it letting pass by with stating NO.  He replaced it with “I’m amazing.”  I asked him what sort of experiences he had had lately with his speaking and his book.  He said, “Everyone tells me it’s interesting and stimulating.”  And then he wanted to tell me about a recent experience he had in Los Angeles.  “I was at a famous restaurant frequented by many movie stars.  The owner came out and told me that she was a fan of mine and would I autograph my book.” 

 

“What if I freeze up?”  I must admit that was my biggest fear on stage and it actually happened more than once and I just made something up. But I remember the feeling.  I wished the floor would open up and swallow me and I would never be heard from again.  I remember apologizing to my director at the American Academy of Dramatics after the show, “I’m sorry I went up on the lines.”  To which he replied, “You did?  I didn’t notice.”  That’s right people notice a lot less than you think.  My suggestion is to memorize something that gets you back into it. A mantra.   Usually is the central theme of your speech in one short sentence – Speakers with Acting Skills and Authenticity ALWAYS have the edge.  If I say that phrase,  a slew of acting skills flood my brain and I’m off.  What’s you mantra?

 

We hold on to what doesn’t work instead of what does.  What works about you?  What do people say is great about you?  Ask them.  Write these statements down.  Use them whenever the “doubter” shows up and soon the truth will be stronger than your negative thoughts.  And you’ll be focusing on your gift and how it can change people’s lives because IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.

                       

 

 


 

“The Artist Within” Your Right Brain Voice

In Author: Whitney Ferre, Authors on April 15, 2009 at 11:10 am

I read in a book years ago, at the beginning of my creative journey, “The question is not, ‘Why do some people make art?’  The question is, ‘Why not?'”  To me this expressed the primitive need we all posess to create, to make our mark, to publicly declare, “We are here!”  For me, creativity all begins by getting in the correct frame of mind.  I call it the right brain and it’s voice is “The Artist Within”.  Your left brain voice is physiologically responsible for the past and the future.  In practical terms, it reminds you that if you stick your hand in the fire it will burn and that if you do not have enough wood stored for the winter you will die.  It is the “benefit of hindsight” and “thinking ahead”.  It is ALSO the inner critic (reminding you of past mistakes) and STRESS (worrying about something that maybe, possibly, might happen in the future)!!!  As your left brain is task-oriented, logical, and verbal it is most consistently the voice at our conscience, scrolling through our mental to-do list, staying on the right side of the road, texting, twittering, e-mailing….  While our left brain voice is SO valuable, if it is the ONLY voice to which we are connecting, we are missing out on infinite optimism, hope, creativity, intuition, and centeredness unique to our right brain thinking.  Your right brain is completely PRESENT.  It could care less about your past or what might, possibly happen in the future.  Lose your job?  Your left brain says, “Loser!” and your right brain/Artist Within says, “Great opportunity!  Let’s create some change!”

I have had the privilege to spend time recently talking with John Cimino and Sarah Caldicott-Miller (which has led to this blog)!  What we ALL seem to be sensing is that the time is NOW!  The opportunity to launch our perspective on creativity into the national/global consciousness is NOW!  There is not a person on the planet  who is not aware of the need for CHANGE!  But what is going to be different this time?  We have to CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK! 

I am so honored to be among this group of contributors who have been building the foundation, block by block, for what is about to be heralded as the Creative Age (or, as Dan Pink says, The Conceptual Age).  I celebrate the opportunity we have to collaborate at this unique point in history. 

WOw!  It is late and I could keep going & going & going.  I look forward to hearing from you.  And I would not be “me” if I did not ask, humbly, yet with conviction, for you to buy my book and spread the word.  Creatively yours, Whitney/The Artist Within, A Guide to Becoming Creatively Fit

Work Is Not A Four Letter Word

In Author: Gwydhar Bratton, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on April 14, 2009 at 6:28 pm

EXT. SIDEWALK.DAY

GWYDHAR and BLUE DAMEN, the manifestation of her conscience, walk home from work.

BLUE DAMEN
You’re an idiot.

GWYDHAR
Why is that?

BLUE DAMEN
You say that “Work” is not a four letter word. It totally is.

GWYDHAR
I meant that people say “work” like it’s a bad thing and they’re not allowed to enjoy it. Like it’s something that they have to do as a means to an end instead of as an end in itself.

BLUE DAMEN
Work is the amount of force needed to move an object a given distance.

GWYDHAR
Sure in physics class.

BLUE DAMEN
It applies to jobs to: the amount of ambition you have multiplied by how far you want to go equals the amount of work you need to do to get there.

GWYDHAR
So how come people are always complaining about their jobs, smartass?

BLUE DAMEN
Because they don’t feel like their getting anywhere. Or they don’t have the ambition to go anywhere. Or they don’t feel like the amount of work they’re doing is worth the distance they’ve gone.

GWYDHAR
So it’s about accomplishment.

BLUE DAMEN
And novelty, yeah. Work is a lot of repetition.

GWYDHAR
I guess I can understand that. I appreciate my day job, but I go home feeling tired and like I haven’t accomplished anything. I keep long To Do lists that include lines like “get up” and “eat breakfast” so that I can cross something off each day.

BLUE DAMEN
Whine, whine, whine. You’ve got a n easy job. You make a few phone calls and deliver a few samples and take home a weekly paycheck.

GWYDHAR
I know, I know. Here I am whining ungratefully about such undeserved luxury, but I do so to make a point. The point is that many people like myself- artists with a bit of education and a cushy day job- often feel like the work that we do for someone else is somehow less valuable or important than the work that we do for ourselves.

BLUE DAMEN
It becomes just a job.

GWYDHAR
Yeah, and it’s so easy to feel entitled to a “good” job that none of us ever stop to consider what a “good” job is. A friend of mine forwarded me this video of Mike Rowe from “Dirty Jobs” giving a speech on work that got me thinking about all this.

BLUE DAMEN
Well it’s way easier to do a job that you actually want to do. Like if I actually wanted to walk all the way home I wouldn’t need a rest now.

They pass a bench by a bus stop and BLUE DAMEN sits. GWYDHAR takes a few steps before realizing this.

GWYDHAR
Why’re you stopping?

BLUE DAMEN
Physics.

GWYDHAR
What does physics have to do with anything?

BLUE DAMEN
Are you kidding? Physics apply to everything: A body in motion will remain in motion until acted upon by the need to rest, and a body at rest will remain at rest until acted upon by the need for beer.