Lessons Learned from John Steinbeck – Psychological Safety, YES! And…

thepearlEvery once a while I think of John Steinbeck’s THE PEARL. Of all the themes/parts of the novella, I remember the way Kino just stared at the ants. Observing and respecting nature.
His life is simple until he discovers that huge pearl. He does not know hate, greed, anger etc
By the end, after dealing with one too many man-made stressors he stomps the ants dead.
It’s hard to maintain that childlike innocence and simply appreciate the world we live.
When I teach Adults – and some teens – Improv, I instruct to think like a five year old. Let yourself be silly. Have fun (but never at another’s expense)! Open your mind free of judgement, insecurity etc
I teach psychological safety at corporate workshops. I preach creating a world in which EVERYONE feels physical, mental and emotional safety at work, school, home… This requires EVERYONE get on board. One weak link of ego or insecurity can rock the balance.
Public Shows & Classes in Times Square
Private Events – Corporate Team Building, Happy Hour After Work, Holiday Parties
Touring Nationwide – Colleges Corporate/Private Events
K-12 Outreach – using Improv is powerful edutainment. Shows, Workshops, Residencies and Professional Develop for teachers
Too often – most often – folks are hardened by the selfish and aggressive world around them.
I challenge ALL to fight the urge from within to become what we hate daily. Easier said then done. But worth the fight!!!
Do unto others as you would have done unto you…
Love Thy Neighbor
Instead in 2017 and recent decades, most do unto others that which is done to them… we become arrogant and/or pride in ignorant bliss as a defense mechanism. Instead of leading by example we fall into the traps.
It is a lot easier to take the path of the dark side. We are human. We have emotions.
it is much more difficult to stay positive and lead a happy life in the face of tragedy and daily judgements/resentments.
Daily I encounter someone – a total stranger – that gives me the snob look. The way I dress, talk, act is not good enough for them.
Daily I encounter someone – a total stranger – that gives me the look of resentment. The way I dress, talk, act looks like I have it way better in life.
I am quite happy in my status but by no means comfortable financially. Face it I am a working actor, but not a star. I have not had a survival job in years – unless you call producing this theater company my day job. But in over 10 years, I have not picked up a tray of drinks (except helping my own clients and guests at the club to see my show or take my classes). I have not worked in retail in 15 years. At age 45 I live in a house for the first time since leaving home 20 years ago. I could be a lot worse. I could be a lot better.
So if you were walking down the street, in the mall, at the grocery… what would you think when you passed me? Am I good enough, too good, or just right?
As far as I am concerned ALL OF YOU are just right the way you are. We all have room for improvement, but our desire to improve should never be out of jealousy. We should never covet. We should never feel shame or make others feel shame.
We all need to find a  balance of being content in who we are (supporting all around us for who they are) and the drive to better our selves.
The fact we are getting cast in the projects we want to work as actors does not reflect on us as people. Maybe we need to grow as artists to be good enough to be on TV, Broadway or Film, but that does not mean you are not good enough as a person.
So psychological safety starts with each individual being a better listener, giving all a fair shake. I mean REALLY listen, with your ears, ears, mind & soul. Breathe in what the others share. Think “YES! And…” like Improv teaches.
If you are on the aggressive side, take a step back. Quite often overbearing ego is an over compensation to insecurity. You are not innately fearful but when we chill out a bit, those thoughts of self doubt can creep in… I say let them. Just a bit. Let yourself be a little vulnerable. At first it will be a little scary, perhaps. In time you will learn to trust your team more and discover a world the blinders of ego have kept from you.
Sometimes, we need to be a little stronger. There will always be those that do not play nice with others, whether due to a malicious self-serving agenda, or totally just inconsiderate and unaware of the offense. You cannot control another’s thoughts and deeds. But you can choose (I know easier said than done) to not let their words and deeds control your life. When we learn how to laugh at ourselves, everything changes. Drop those defensive walls. A lifetime of harsh environments can make the walls tall and think.
We all need to play the part in stopping the endless cycle of ego and insecurity. They equally destroy team,,and equally destroy meaningful connections in private life as well.
In extreme cases we need to reach out for help. If you are under physical, mental or emotional threat GET HELP. You are not trapped. You ALWAYS have choices, no matter how difficult they are to see. You may have to CHANGE something or everything. You should not have to change everything because of another’s harmful behavior, but sometimes that is the only survival option. Don’t let fear or pride keep you from finding a safe space.
In any case do not let it continue. Do let the resentment and depression grow to the point it destroys you. Don’t wait to hit rock bottom to get the help you deserve.
EVERYONE deserve happiness. Don’t expect happiness to be delivered by an outside force. ONLY YOU can make it happen in the long term. If you work in a bad environment, find another job. If your friends are abusive, find new friends. If your family is abusive, move out.
What seems impossible starts with simple baby steps. Start taking those steps NOW. Not today, this very second!

PS I wish more folks lived the lessons learned in dramatic arts. Not to get political I sometimes think Donald J Trump watched Star Wars III, heard the line “So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause.” and thought, mmm, I get lots of applause so it’s okay to take away citizens’ liberties.

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