Fear & Other Tough Stuff: struggle with asking

In a good book the best is between the lines. –Swedish Proverb

Here’s what I’m currently reading—

Much like Brene Brown says in the foreword, I look at Amanda Palmer and think, I have nothing in common with you.

And then I read The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help.

And I realize Amanda is me. She’s you. She’s all of us.

And this book, this soul-bearing and truth-telling book, is for all of us.

For all of us who struggle with asking, with the fear of ‘no’, with showing up and being vulnerable.

For all of us who at times have not felt seen—or known how to truly see others and connect.

For all of us living very different lives on the outside, but with the common ground of our emotional experiences.

Amanda says, “I’ve found that everybody has an Achilles’ heel when it comes to asking. I know a lot of people who can boldly ask for a raise, but they can’t ask for a hug. And I know a lot of people with the opposite problem.”

Read this book. It will fundamentally change the way you think about asking for help.

Have you watched Amanda’s TED Talk? It might be the best14 minutes of your day.

Improv. Just typing the word gives me shudders.

Improvisation: the art or act of improvising, or of composing, uttering, executing, or arranging anything without previous preparation

Without previous preparation is not a phrase an introvert like me wants to hear or have anything to do with. I like a chance to mull things over. Think through. Prepare.

So improv is outside my comfort zone. Which means it’s a great place to grow.

While I’m not up on a stage with a mic in my hand, I am reading Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses “No, But” Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration–Lessons from The Second City, a book by two executives from The Second City—the world’s premier comedy theater and school of improvisation.

Stephen Colbert said, “I know one of these guys, so at least half of this book is pretty good. Yes, And is for anyone looking to be more creative in their work and in their life.”

Aren’t we all looking to be more creative?

I know I am.

It was the title that got me past the scariness of the improv part. I’ve had “Yes, And” in my toolkit for awhile because it’s so empowering and full of possibility.

“Yes, And” is about giving every idea a chance to be acted on. Given we often squelch ideas mid-sentence—even mid-thought, I’m for anything that lets ideas see the light of day.

This book explores the seven elements of improv, and how we can use these skills to improve our emotional intelligence, increase creativity, and pivot out of uncomfortable situations.

My favorite chapter is Using Failure where the authors identify six ways they choose to fail in the course of their work at The Second City. Read that again: Choose to fail. The very idea that we can choose how to fail—and do so in ways that are actually advantageous—is a game changer.

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