Introduction a bigger, better, more powerful YOU
- I’ve included a Glossary of Terms at the end of the book. Anytime I mention something and don’t define it immediately, check out the glossary if you’re the sort of reader who goes crazy without immediate clarity. If you love riding the story and are willing to let me be the pilot, just hold on. Everything comes out when it’s most engaging, at least in my mind, which admittedly is somewhat addicted to story.
- You’ll find I repeat the word “bigger” a lot. Many people have a conflicted relationship with the concept of bigger. The bigger I mean is the kind that allows you to do things that typically would be out of reach for you. The kind of thing when you’d say, “I’d need to be a bigger person to have that response.” That’s the kind of bigger I mean.
- Very typical for you to be wanting to hear about me, who I am, right about now. I mean, it’s called Roger’s Rules! “Who is this Roger and why should I pay attention to him at all?” is a fair question. Who I am, what I do and, more importantly, how and why I think the way I do, all of that comes out in the following pages. But quickly for those who like to be more “situated” in a story, I’m a motivational speaker who has come out of successful professional careers in acting, directing, teaching, writing and entrepreneur-ing. I love the things I do, when I don’t detest them. I have devoted my life to pushing myself to overcome internal hurdles that stopped me from being the me I want to be. The me I was meant to be … if it weren’t for those internal demons that suck the power from my bones, that infect my mind with jagged thoughts of weaknesses, that cramp my ability to rise to the occasion. I intend to aid you in your battles with those exact demons.
- As Rick Hanson, Ph. D., Hardwiring Happiness, says, “The most important minute is the next one” because that is where you will either do or not do something (i.e., take action or not).
CHAPTER 1 black hole, black magic
- I’m going to open each chapter with a little quiz. This may seem premature since you’ve not read any substance just yet, but even if you guess incorrectly, it has been found that pre-testing aids in learning and retention: See Benedict Carey, How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens(NY: Random House, 2015), at p. 95. And they’re fun. Which has many rewards. Bring on the pre-test!
For an overview of this study watch Robert Waldinger’s TED Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/robert_waldinger_what_makes_a_good_life_
This should be the first order of business for a happy and healthy life. Get your love and your social support in order. Make this the number one priority of your life. The length and quality of your life is directly related to the choices you make around love, friendship, relationships and community. What is not on this list? Money. Fame. Career success.
One of the many wonderful teachers I’ve had in my life. I’m talking about you, Miss Thiara (my grade 2 crush!), Mrs. Clement, Mr. Merling, Mrs. Green, Mr. Storsley, Mr. Putnam, Mr. Sawatsky, Mrs. Roitman, David Brubaker, Ruth and Randy Kamp, Peter Sexias, Walt Werner, Roland Case, Arne Zaslov, Stephen Malloy … I’ve had a plenitude of great teachers! And some really lousy ones, who will remain nameless.
Social pressure and peer pressure are two of the most potent pressures we feel. We will talk more about this later in Chapter 5 (Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable) but for now just remember that we are a herd species … that’s a little special insight for those who read footnotes. (I love reading footnotes. So, here I am giving support to others who delight in this knowledge-gathering quirk.)
[Warning: this is an additional footnote that isn't in the book! How special that you get to read it here :)] Which has me wondering if maybe it wasn’t Lindsay and instead was someone else I have erased from my memory. When Lindsay told me he didn’t think it was him,I asked all the close friends I could remember from grade 8 and 9 but no one else remembered this event… so maybe it was Lindsay, or maybe it was someone else… or maybe this was a vivid dream I had that crawled its way into my memory!
CHAPTER 2 we are blind
- We will circle back to various implications of being “the most profoundly social species on the planet” throughout. There is a massive amount of power to find in this truth. For references check out: Dr. Rick Hanson, “Hardwiring Happiness: The Hidden Power of Everyday Experiences on the Modern Brain,” TEDx Marin 2013; and Eilon Schwatz, At Home in the World: Human Nature, Ecological Thought, and Education After Darwin (NY: State University of New York Press, 2010).
Check out the Glossary of Terms for an immediate definition.
Unless, of course, you are a Roger! If so, congrats! How did you end up with such a spectacular name? If you don’t know it yet, Roger means different things in different cultures. Ask someone from England (or Australia) what it means to “get rogered” or give “a good rogering”. It’s awesomely titillating!
To be fair to Jeni, she really doesn’t like her character in this story. She finds my portrayal of her to be confrontational and, ultimately, not true. While I might have amped up the conflict to make the story more intriguing, most people reading it are amazed at her patience and ability to not hit me when I’m acting like this. I agree with most people. Jeni is a paragon of loveliness and this story only illuminates her loveliness further. Which is my way of saying, “Sorry Jeni. This time, on this story, conflict wins.”
A speaker is an actor, writer, teacher and entrepreneur. There’s even director and producer if you consider a presentation as a one-person show, which I’m inclined to do with my background in performance. I married my wife, partially, for her immense good sense. After all, she did choose me. :0
Check out the Johari Window model for further thoughts on human blind spots.
Fangbing Qu, “You Should Have Seen the Look on Your Face: Self--awareness of Facial Expressions” Frontiers in Psychology (30 May 2017): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5447732/
That is not to say that other’s impressions are to be fully trusted either! Everyone has blind spots that involve themselves and others. Check around to see if your or others’ impressions are spot on or wildly inaccurate. An exercise I suggest you do (I did it years ago) illuminates this blindness. To five to ten of your friends, colleagues and family send a quick survey with these types of questions: what is my greatest strength; when am I at my best; what am I good at; what should I do with the next part of my life; what should I let go of; what should I celebrate; etc. The answers, I found, were eye opening. I was blind to so many of the responses. I keep these survey results on my success wall in my office and look at them regularly, especially when I need a dose of positive energy.
All fears are not bad. For example, a healthy fear of fire is brilliant.
These are often the same thing! Sometimes just facing fear is enough to dispatch it completely. Or, sometimes, it’s a traumatic walk through hellish stress that goes on for a raw and prolonged stretch of time. It can be quite the range.
We will come back to low point power throughout this book. It, too, is a recurring theme.
Hmm, that sounds familiar. Those patterns, that anger at other people’s unwanted emotions, that lives deep within me, too. I am my parents’ child, after all.
One of my whiteboard wallpaper goals is: “to effect the world by affecting others by being the me I want to be."
Funny. It’s hard for me to even write that my wife shows me unconditional love even though that’s at the core of her soul. When she loves, she loves unconditionally. But I find it hard to admit she feels that way for me. It’s hard for me to admit that I deserve this kind of love. Ah, we can be so messed up.
Transformative power is simply the power to transform, to change. I use it to describe the power you need to change into a bigger, better, more powerful you. It’s transformative power, the power to change, that allows you to reach for the me you want to be.
I purposely am vague with my “take it out of your body … parts of your internal world …” because there are so many ways to express your internal world. Art in all its forms does exactly that. Mostly, though, we are concerned in this book about talking and writing. That is, the way most humans typically live out loud is through writing or talking. Although, I have used interpretive dance on occasion to fully express my internal world. Okay, that’s a joke but, in truth, I commonly use acting, comedy and physical comedy to live out loud and share my internal world with the external world. I love doing exactly that, actually.
Heaps of theory linking articulation to learning. E.g. https://en.wikiversity.
org/wiki/Explanation_of_Articulation_Method or http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.113.5705 or http://www.emeraldinsight.
Movement and learning are connected. A Texas school saw immediate positive results when they tripled recess time – see: http://www.offgrid
quest.com/education/texas-school-triples-recess-time-and-sees. And http://www.
ascd.org/publications/books/104013/chapters/Movement-and-Learning.aspx and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movement_in_learning. There is lots of evidence linking movement to learning.
I encourage you to write where you will see and read it. Some people put sticky notes around their computers or mirror. Great! I find that valuable. But over time I find that sticky notes get less sticky and fall off. Or get buried under other sticky notes. My current solution is whiteboard wallpaper. I now write on my walls. When I need to remember what I think is important, I look at my walls. Very efficient. Very effective. At least for me.
As a speaker, I can say I have some relevant experience here. I get paid to say these ideas, and others, to people. Think about how I’m living out loud. I’m constantly hearing myself say the things I need to hear the most. Think of the ownership! It is absolutely wonderful (and planned) that I get paid to live out loud.
Shyness and introversion are not necessarily linked but are totally tangled up in the way we talk about them, still. We will examine the concept of ambivert a little later. This concept absorbs both extrovert and introvert in, what I think, is a helpful construct. Stay tuned.
See Chapter 4, Your Journey to Internal Power, for more info about owning your process.
CHAPTER 3 the power of play
- Not everyone thinks they are an actor (until they read Chapter 7, We Are All Actors!) but most people have lots of familiarity with performing. After all, the spectrum of performance ranges from sports to a formal presentation to how you act at a social gathering to acting like you aren’t in a bad mood, etc.
Dancers, musicians, artists, singers, speakers … also live under these conditions.
Most actors are out of the business by their late 20s to early 30s. Harrison Ford once attributed his (massive) success to hanging in long enough for the competition to dwindle, and I paraphrase, “In my early 20s I was up against 10,000 other actors. By the late 20s I was up against 2,000 actors. By 35 there weren’t that many.
As if this crazy auditioning pressure wasn’t enough, for me it was intensified because I was a “wild card” for casting. I was often asked to audition for things I wasn’t right for, just in case they want someone who’s a sideways choice. Here’s an extreme example. I’m auditioning for a doctor (I often audition for doctor roles, that’s not the weird part), but I’m auditioning for the same role as six black women actors so that’s a little strange. But not if you are the wild card! To eliminate any confusion, I’m a white man (in summer, more beige). Not a black woman.
Anyone remember the movie Tootsie? The beginning of this movie gives a glimpse into an actor’s world and the crazed brain that this type of stress often creates.
Anyone remember the movie Tootsie? The beginning of this movie gives a glimpse into an actor’s world and the crazed brain that this type of stress often creates.
“Taken all together, recent findings provide a scientific account of the familiar contention that ‘when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you’.” Paula M. Niedenthal, “Embodying emotion” Science. 18 May 2007: vol. 316 (issue 5827), at pp. 1002-1005. Or see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17510358/
So, if you don’t feel any of the negative emotions around stress I’m talking about, which of the three are you? And I hope your answer falls within the first two options!
Priming is an interesting concept. What you do or think about just before a stressful encounter will come with you into the stressful encounter. So, just like you prime a camping stove or an old-fashioned car like the Model T, you can prime your next experience by focusing on the time just before you enter the situation. Fill this time with play and power and see how it changes the next experience. In fact, “New research confirms that simply remembering a personal experience with power can increase a person’s appearance of confidence, command and persuasiveness in either the written form or a face-to-face meeting … Overall, merely asking participants to remember a personal experience with power dramatically affected the impressions that interviewers had of them. Our findings illustrate power’s far-reaching effects and have potentially important implications for understanding the psychology of job interviews.” Joris Lammers, David Dubois, Derek D. Rucker, Adam D. Galinsky, “Power Gets the Job: Priming power improves interview outcomes” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 49 (issue 4), July 2013, at pp. 776–779.
When I was in high school, I was taught some exam strategies, which I have subsequently changed to life strategies. These were things like start with the easy questions and warm up to the harder ones and take the evening off before anything important and have (your type of) fun instead of studying.
Check out The Glossary of Terms at the back of the book.
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (NY: Scholastic Paperbacks, 2001), in Chapter 10, at p. 140.
I understand that “magic” is not the most precise of terms; however, I like the vastness of it. So many things can be created when play meets play that magic seems suitable. In essence, the sum is greater than the parts. Bernie de Koven, describes my “pure magic” as “CoLiberation: What we have to give each other when we are at our best … we actually experience ourselves sharing in something bigger than any one who is present.” From The Well-Played Game: A Player’s Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013). See also: https://www.academia.edu/965682/On_Coliberation.
Good one Jenny Stanfield!
I had forgotten this story until he told it to me at a networking event in front of a group of colleagues. What a fun way to remember it!
Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (NY: Crown Publishing Group, 2010). This is one of the best books I’ve read in the past 5 years. If this subject interests you at all buy it now.
One of my next books will be subtitled something like Roger’s Rules for a Happier, More Potent LIFE and this rule (the more fun YOU have the more fun THEY have) will be one of the foundational principles in that book.
Do you see it? “Motion” is part of “e-motion.” But don’t just take it from me, there are many angles to this emotion/motion connection. Some fascinating findings from psychiatry and counselling involve a treatment for PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) that has seen reliable success in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). This treatment links rapid eye movements (like following a finger moving back and forth) to the trauma to weaken its hold: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/treatment/therapy-med/emdr-for-ptsd.asp. Further research connects motion to emotion. “Participants retrieved more positive memories when instructed to move marbles up, and more negative memories when instructed to move them down, demonstrating a causal link from motion to emotion.” See Daniel Casasanto and Katinka Dijkstra, “Motor Action and Emotional Memory” in Cognition 115 (2010) pp. 179-185 (http://www.casasanto.com/papers/Casasanto&
I take it back. Some people will think exactly that. Pity.
Dr. Stuart Brown, The National Institute for Play http://www.nifplay.org.
If there is no “flow-light” at present, by 2031 I’m convinced someone will have figured out the value of such a device.
Dr. Eva Redei, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, as quoted in “Psychotherapy for Depressed Rats Shows Genes Aren’t Destiny” by Marla Paul, March 29, 2016 (https://news.northwestern.edu/
mass-murder/. And Dr. Stuart Brown, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul (NY: Penguin Group, 2009).
Brian Sutton-Smith, The Ambiguity of Play (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997).
Dr. Eva Redei, supra, note 22: “They took the depressed rats and put them in large cages with lots of toys to chew on and places for them to hide and climb – sort of a Disneyland for rats. The rats were kept in the playground for one month. ‘We called it rat psychotherapy,’ Redei said, ‘because the enrichment allows them to engage with the environment and each other more.’ The results of a month in the playground: the rats’ depressive behaviour was dramatically reduced”.
You can see with this one example alone that mess and I are very comfortable bedfellows. I wish this were true for more people. Mess is not something I immediately need to clean up and organize; rather, mess is where, if you have tenacity, patience and drive, some of the best ideas, best connections, best creative thoughts and ways of linking disparate ideas come together. I walk confidently into mess because, really, that’s the way we go through life, isn’t it? Life is a long series of messes that you can choose to wade through with confidence, try to eradicate, or fearfully avoid. I don’t save my fear for mess. I save my fear for other things. Mess causes problems. Absolutely. Extremely frustrating problems. Sometimes debilitating. I am willing (but still angry!) to be sidetracked by these problems (e.g., disorganization, clutter, wasted days), so that I get the hidden merits of mess in my life.
A possible title of my autobiography.
There is a growing body of evidence linking play to some of the most desirable human qualities: creativity, innovation, emotional health, empathy, trust. Recognizing play’s power in learning, the Province of Ontario (in Canada) has made play the central plank of its kindergarten education system and desires to move play further into the elementary curriculum: http://toronto.citynews.ca/2014/09/02/ontario-plans-to-extend-
British Anthropologist Robin Dunbar argues that humans can comfortably maintain only 150 (somewhere between 100-250) stable relationships (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number#cite_note-4)
In the list under Mass Murderers and Dead Rats at page 86.
And create a lasting impression that captures the emotions, the feelings, the time spent together so happily. A lasting impression keeps engagement alive and the relationship operating at the level it was when the lasting impression was created. For example, a photo is a lasting impression. Every time you look at it, you are reminded of the feelings you felt when the photo was taken. Then place the most important photos within sight, so you all see them regularly.
We are going to return to this idea of playing with children and how lying during your playing is a great first step towards a better relationship. What! Yes, I did just say that. Stay tuned until Chapter 7, We Are All Actors, to see what I mean about a positive use for lying.
I wonder how much productivity is lost just because people come to work emotionally agitated from the pain of leaving the house on time, properly dressed, with lunches, homework, business work all held by the appropriate people, etc. The draining power of this negative whirlwind is worth exploring.
After a talk, I had a youngish man come up to me and tell me how games have revolutionized his exercise experience. He’s a mountain biker and goes to the gym for spin class on days the weather is too extreme. As he explained, “Usually people only workout for about 30 minutes since it’s so tiring. But then they hooked a computer game to the bikes and suddenly I was playing with and against the other bikers and the computer game itself. The first time I got off the bike drenched in sweat thinking I had ridden for the regular 30 minutes. What a shock to look at the time! Ninety minutes had passed! I had tripled my exercise time just by making it playful.” Once again I benefit from someone else choosing to live out loud.
F. Sedgipour, “Play to Perform: Play is the Future of Work” 2016. Submitted to OCAD University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation, at p. 86.
“Texas School Triples Recess Time and Sees Immediate Positive Results in Kids.” See: http://www.offgridquest.com/education/texas-school-triples-recess-time-and-see
Farnaz Tabaee, “Effects of Improvisation Techniques in Leadership Development” (Ph.D. diss., Pepperdine University, 2013). Tabaee found that managers saw measured improvement in listening, decision-
making, openness to risk and playfulness with staff and at home.
See: engagementunlimited.ca/playsurvey for a version you can download and adapt.
Sedgipour, supra, note 38, at p. 22.
For example, http://www.getspokal.com/how-to-create-content-based-on-your-customers-pain-points/ cites Robert Cialdini’s seminal work: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
CHAPTER 4 your journey to internal power
- As opposed to any external locus of power. For instance, institutional power (e.g., government worker, teacher, nurse), positional power (e.g., coach, manager, CEO) or official power (e.g., security guard, cop).
Not so surprisingly, “Stand Up for What You Believe” is the theme song of a musical I co-wrote with an extremely talented partner, Courtenay Ennis. Hopefully someday soon, you will have a chance to see it. It has an astonishingly powerful message considering it hides inside a musical comedy. Not only does it belong on Broadway but, more importantly, the world would be better if it played in every high school every 5 years. Keep your eye out for Franklin Falls.
“In no society examined under controlled conditions have the majority of people consistently behaved selfishly.” Yochai Benkler, “The Unselfish Gene” Harvard Business Review (July-August 2011) (https://hbr.org/2011/07/the-unselfish-gene ).
I have some anecdotal evidence about this truth. Next door to my relatives in New Zealand is a neighbour who sells flowers at a small, home-made kiosk outside of their driveway and gate. When asked, they told me they have been selling these flowers for years and that they have some flowers taken without payment once every long while (and they aren’t angry when this happens either “maybe they need it more than we do”). People don’t steal the cash that others leave in a tin to pay for the flowers either. Daily, this family earns income off an honour system that has no cameras or watchers or spies. Why? Because the vast majority of people in these situations act in ways to support our community, our social contracts, in ways that honour humanity.
I’m very taken with the Scandinavian homework model that says, “There should be no homework.” Kids are supposed to focus on play, fun, relationships, family when they are not in school. I believe we could learn much from this attitude. Not just for school but for work/life balance too.
Check out the Glossary of Terms at the back of the book.
Dr. Rick Hanson, “Stephen Colbert: We Don’t Need to ‘Keep Fear Alive’” posted October 13, 2010: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-wise-brain/201010/stephen-colbert-we-dont-need-keep-fear-alive.
“Positive emotions lead to novel, expansive, or exploratory behaviour, and that, over time, these actions lead to meaningful, long-term resources such as knowledge and social relationships.” See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Fredrickson.
This depends on the day. My life around stress is much more under my control. I own my stress much more than ever before. But some days, things are wonky and my complete focus is necessary just to hold on for the ride; far from owning stress, life on these days becomes a battleground with short-lived victories and sudden defeats.
There is an argument hiding in a joke that goes: “If you were ever to meet a full extrovert or introvert, they would either be in jail (extrovert) or an asylum (introvert).” Meaning that we are all ambiverts and will range along the introvert/extrovert spectrum depending on the situation (and, I argue, depending on what level of internal power we are feeling at any specific moment). I am not saying that introverts lack internal power. Rather that, I am quiet in a larger group at times because I lack internal power (I don’t stand up and say what I think, rather I sit quietly thinking my contrary thoughts because I lack internal power, not because I’m introverted). Other times my introvert overflows with internal power and says, “No thanks. I’d rather go home and read a book or hang out with my glorious wife, or see a couple close friends, or just get away from the noise and hubbub after a full day, than go to that party or event or drinks.” That’s introverted internal power. My mother used to force me out of the house as a teenager, at times, when I would lie on the couch and read book after book for day after day after day. Other times, I spent every waking moment with my friends for days and weeks on end. I consider myself an extremist at both ends of the introvert/ambivert/extrovert spectrum, although like a natural introvert I have always prized my time alone.
See Chapter 6, Fight to Be Positive, for an example of how I am also a typical Canadian.
I love hearing other people’s rules! So interesting to see how other brains work. I have a dream that one day I will publish a book of the most interesting rules others have shared with me. Join the discussion at https://www.rogerhaskett.com.
chapter 5 get comfortable being uncomfortable
It is impossible to change your state or phase without first breaking or modifying the status quo. For ice to become liquid and then a gas, a breaking of the status quo is clearly involved! In humans, a change from the status quo creates discomfort. Therefore, all learning, all growing, all transformation must contain discomfort.
An interesting way to look at change comes from writer, editor, and educator, George Leonard: “Resistance is proportionate to the size and speed of the change, not to whether the change is a favourable or unfavourable one.”
For a darkly comic illustration of our herd mentality, check out the Asch study video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qA-gbpt7Ts8.
Unless you are highly trained, extremely naturally gifted, or a sociopath.
It’s funny. When you talk to an actor about a part they are up for, they always have amazing reasons why they want this part. But after having hundreds (if not thousands) of these exact conversations, it becomes clear that actors (including me) want to get every part they have ever been considered for. Ever. (And most they haven’t been considered for too!) You can throw away specific sounding reasons actors give for wanting any specific part because deep down they want them all. I think actors (and similar professions) are voracious because they get so little. Easy to be generous when you have everything. Easy to want more when you have nothing. Which is how most actors feel, like they have nothing guaranteed ever. Except no work! That actors have in spades, sadly. Almost any actor can say, “Look, my calendar is full of … no work.”
I call this the Madonna/Lady Gaga Attitude. They stand strong and say, “This is who I am. If you don’t like it, too bad. The world will change before I will.” Such power!
Robert always called me by some wacky version of my name when he had good news: Rogerino, Rogé, Raj, Rogeritis … (heh, I made the last one up).
Shout out to Toby Berner for providing so much assistance with writing this book. Invaluable friend and writing partner.
Breathing deep into your abdomen is a physical way of describing this type of deep breathing. Another more imagination-based method would be to breathe into your core. Or your soul. I like to breathe into specific (sometimes funny) parts like my butt or my right shoulder or left thigh. It’s amazing what you can do when your breath is used to support you. To open up areas of neglect or stress. To empower depowered zones.
There is an Irony Award waiting for me in some afterlife. I first very publicly scoffed at breathing in theatre school. “Oh, sure.” I would say. “Like I can really breathe into my legs! I’m pretty sure my lungs are in my chest and that diaphragm thingy is in my belly. So only an idiot would say they can breathe into their legs.” It’s a good thing we can learn and transform in this life. Otherwise we’d all be such boring morons, convinced of all we know.
chapter 6 fight to be positive
- Emphasis on try. I struggle mightily with negativity. Most people assume, because I talk and write the way I do, that I am or have always been positive. That positive comes easily to me. They couldn’t be more wrong. The most important decision of my life, to pursue and marry my amazing wife, was chosen partially because I love her innate positive nature. She glows with happiness. I, on the other hand, have sullen and surly qualities that ooze out of me on a disturbingly consistent basis. These qualities do not make me proud. However, I am proud that my negative traits have been increasingly counterbalanced by the positive attitude I consciously cultivate. That’s good news for you, too. Because if I can do it, most others can too.
“[W]ith increasing stress, our brains are wired to discount factual information and to rely heavily on emotional experiences. Keep in mind that your brain is wired to highlight the emotional part of her message. The factual part of the message may be lost altogether, which can leave you both intensely emotional and failing to act on important facts.” See: https://psychcentral.com/blog/our-brain-on-stress-forgetful-emotional/. “When you retrieve a memory, your mood and other biases at that moment can influence what information you actually recall.” See: https://www.health.havard.edu/healthbeat/forgetfulness-7-types-of-mormal-memory-problems
I first heard “positive amnesia” from, I thought, Dr. Jessica Payne, from the Neuroleadership Institute in this amazing presentation: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/41857330 but that link no longer works and I can’t find any reference that links the use of this term to Dr. Payne or really anybody. But I love the name and concept “positive amnesia;” it’s catchy! If this concept was created by Dr. Payne or others and I have failed to properly credit you (or explain it properly), I’m sorry and will resolve this on the first revision of this book.
Stress hormones are also hindering the hippocampus from receiving enough energy by diverting glucose levels to surrounding muscles.” S. Kuhlmann, M. Piel, O.T. Wolf, “Impaired Memory Retrieval after Psychosocial Stress in Healthy Young Men” Journal of Neuroscience, 25 (11), at pp. 2977–2982.
Yup. They’ve added another F to the 3 Fs. Fawn is quite the concept! When you are stressed, you might “‘fawn’ (i.e. to act servilely; cringe and flatter).” You fawn when you think cringing will keep you alive or hidden in the herd. See: http://childhoodtraumarecovery.com/2014/03/12/trauma-responses-fight-flight-freeze-or-fawn
Nick Owen and Associates at http://www.nickowen.net/story-narrative/: “80% of all communication falls into the category of storytelling – whether it be presentations, examples, anecdotes, or even gossip.”
They’re called mirror neurons because the listener’s neurons mirror the story-teller’s.
It’s a callback so the first choice I show them is what I did for the original audition. That choice (plus my look and a host of other considerations that have little to do with my acting) is why they invited me to the callback.
I’ll tell you what else is bizarre. Knowing this about expressing emotion, I still have a difficult time doing it. Even though I try to live out loud, I still have trouble practicing this one. It’s hard to do this kind of work. It is for me, hopefully not for you, but it likely is, isn’t it? I think, write, muse, converse on these very topics because I desperately need to hear what I’m thinking and learning. So, I can lock it into my body and brain. I struggle with all of Roger’s Rules. I created or adapted them because they are my rules. The rules I need. They have been wrought from sweat, stress, pain and triumph. I talk these rules to others so I can hear them for myself.
I made up that name too :0
“Our brains are not equipped to handle the 11-plus million bits of information arriving at any given moment.” See Frieda Edgette and Justin Talbot Zorn, “Mindfulness Can Improve Strategy, Too,” Harvard Business Review (Digital Article), May 2, 2016.
As one of my amazing theater teachers endlessly repeated (wisely, I might add), “75% of acting is reacting.” Which lines up with what we know about life: that your journey is determined by your response (your reaction) to what life throws in your path.
Lack of sleep counts as stress to our bodies. Relationships don’t get much clearer or simpler than that. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-and-disease-risk
Unless you are one of those magical people, like my wife, who doesn’t seem to have to fight to be positive. However, the same struggle goes on inside my wife when she has stress. She’s amazingly positive almost all the time but still wracked by negative ideas when stress appears. For example, my wife is a gifted performer. Yet when performance day approaches, she is overcome by stress-driven anxiety and starts to over-remember the negative and suffer from positive amnesia. It would be more comical (given how amazing she is) if it weren’t so painful.
chapter 7 we are all actors
- By acting I mean “committing to something that isn’t true, yet.”
Many actors (including myself at times!) bristle when I say this because most performers spend their whole lives focused on, obsessed with truth. Most writers and directors (probably all creatives) feel the same. We spend our focused energies using fake to expose or illuminate truth. Fake as in stories, acting, movies, plays, commercials, etc. We use lies to uncover the truth. We use a tissue of lies to find profound truth. This is the way humans are hardwired. Lies to find truth … isn’t that interesting? As you will come to see, I see lying as a powerful tool that humans have in our tool belt. But it is also extremely important to understand where you stand in terms of truth and lies. I honour truth. I seek out truth. And, often, I use lies to help me get there. I work in the business of making things up as a writer, director, producer, actor, storyteller. So I have my specific insider’s perspective about making things up. If we create truth from the tissue of lies we call fiction or, even, culture, then why not individually use this power as well? That is what I propose. I consider the truth sacred. It has to be the foundation upon which we build our lives. So it is extremely important that truth is honoured and that untrue is recognized for what it is. Some version of untruth. Untrue. Unreal. Otherwise you create blind spots for yourself and others. We are blind enough! We don’t need to add more! If we think that a shared imagined cultural reality is real or true because it’s shared by enough people, then we are wrong. Size of belief does not equate with truth. It might equate to convenience but that’s another matter. I call myself a liar because, while the foundation I build from is rooted in truth, most things I work on all day long are constructed fantasy. Reaching for truth with a tissue of lies. This is at the heart of our species’ humanity. Our ability to manipulate our beliefs and what we think, what we agree is true. Knowing the difference (between lies and truth) is essential for a healthy society.
Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (NY: Harper-Collins, 2015), at pp. 27-31.
Okay, for all you readers going crazy about not wanting to honour lying, I would invite you to turn to footnote 2 in the conclusion, How Your Change Changes the World. Then turn back here and see if that story has changed your mind about the possible value of lying for good reasons.
One application that immediately jumps out at me here is that if shared lies are more powerful than internal ones, which seems to be the case, then surrounding yourself with people who also see the me you want to be as the me you are (e.g., friends, family, entourage) is smart.
Aristotle argued that the human ability to “imitate” is an instinct – that children are born “knowing” how to imitate, or as I like to think of it, how to pretend to be what they are not.
If you think that your stakes are too high for this kind of honesty, think again. The world is full of examples of people doing shockingly honest things. Honesty can be more impressive, certainly, than faked confidence. But I’ve seen both sides work. And I’ve seen both sides fail. Nothing is guaranteed. You can only make the best choice you can and see what happens. However, there is always something powerful in honesty. You can count on that. Truth is riveting. Personally, I use both depending on the situation. In my first years auditioning for film and TV, I was so nervous at auditions (more nervous in auditions than I was on set) that most of my characters had nervous energies. If I was auditioning for a cop, he would be a nervous cop (I’d find ways of making that choice work), or a nervous lawyer, or a nervous boyfriend, or a nervous doctor. I was using what I had (nerves) as a choice for the character so that my real nerves had a suitable outlet, as themselves. As I auditioned more and as I developed more Roger’s Rules, my nerves became more controllable and my auditions started to move in other directions. Playing extremely confident characters now is not hard. Whatever nerves I carry into auditions these days are mostly manipulate-able. Because as you work through these issues, your ability to manipulate your feelings and thoughts becomes easier and more reliable.
Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1962).
chapter 8 the way you talk to yourself matters
The brain can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined.” Dr. Helena Popovic, In Search of My Father: Dementia Is No Match for a Daughter’s Determination (BookPal, 2011), at p. 222. This lines up with what we discussed last chapter, We Are All Actors, and the power of pretending.
I’m never 100% sure how any moment of acting is going to go. I have sucked as an actor in the past. I have also been brilliant. You roll the dice, but only after you stack the odds in your favour by using Roger’s Rules forged into Your Rules to create more reliability in these stressful moments!
If I’ve told you once I’ve told you a kagillion times, stop exaggerating!
Dr. Helena Popovic, supra, note 2, at p. 59: “Our internal dialogue is a constant stream of instructions to the subconscious mind. Uplifting, solution-focused self-talk switches on brain cell activity; negative, discouraging self-talk dampens it.” And at pg 108: “change your language … change your life.” See also: http://meanttobehappy.com/why-changing-your-language-can-change-your-life/
We are not what we think or feel. The thoughts and emotions that flitter through your consciousness are not you. This is one of the first guidelines of meditation and mindfulness.
In my teens, I read and reread Proverbs (from the bible) repeatedly. It helped form the foundation for my choices in life. E.g. “Better to eat cold soup with a loving wife than steak with a shrew.” (I feel the need to apologize for the misogynistic aspects of the King James Bible.)
chapter 9 the way you think about stress determines its impact on you
(1842-1910) An American philosopher and psychologist, James was one of the leading thinkers of the late nineteenth century.
“Re-conceptualizing Stress: Shifting views on the consequences of stress and its effects on stress reactivity” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28273132); “Does the Perception that Stress Affects Health Matter? The Association with Health and Mortality” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3374921/); “People’s Perception of the Effect of Stress on Their Health is Linked to Risk of Heart Attacks” (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130626211919.htm); and Jeremy P. Jamieson, Matthew K. Nock, and Wendy Berry Mendes, “Mind Over Matter: Reappraising Arousal Improves Cardiovascular and Cognitive Responses to Stress,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, vol. 141(3), Aug 2012, at pp. 417-422.
JP Jamieson, WB Mendes, E Blackstock, and T Schmader “Turning the Knots in Your Stomach into Bows: Reappraising arousal improves performance on the GRE” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 46(1), 2010, at pp. 208-212.
I find it very easy to believe that energy-field discoveries in the future will prove that thought as energy affects (maybe can affect?) other energy bodies.
Lots of recent research on breathing. A fun place to start is this kind of infographic from which you can follow your curiosity: https://emmaseppala.com/benefits-breathing-scientific-benefits-breathing-infographic
Alia J. Crum and Ellen J. Langer. 2007. “Mind-Set Matters: Exercise and the Placebo Effect” Psychological Science 18, no. 2: pp. 165-171 (http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:3196007).
In fact, I keep checking this study (and others) to see if I read it wrong! While writing this book, I have woken up at 4 a.m., repeatedly, worried where my confirmation bias will show up.
I move as much as possible whatever job I happen to be doing.
“People’s Perception of the Effect of Stress on Their Health is Linked to Risk of Heart Attacks” (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130626211919.htm)
There could be underlying medical, mental or emotional conditions contributing to a lack of transformation. This is information you clearly want to find out if you don’t know.
There are meditation tracks that link daydreaming to creating your “future you” or as I refer to it, the me you want to be. Could I be any happier finding this philosophy in meditation? The answer is NO.
And one of the best. I wonder at that correlation. It doesn’t seem coincidental.
What we think about earthquakes and volcanoes doesn’t seem to impact them at all. So far. It’s not hard for me to believe that in 1000 years humans will use hive-mind techniques to moderate the strength or effects of an earthquake. I hope we survive to find out.
Dr. Deborah MacNamara, “The Roots of Resilience and Recovery” (http://macnamara.ca/portfolio/the-roots-of-resilience-and-recovery)
A less hostile and more accepting strategy is, of course, always an option. For example, “Resolve” not “kill.” “Deal with” not “kill them dead.” “Deal with” is healthier but it lacks the energy of “kill them dead” that I like. Clearly, though, I have some issues with self-compassion and accepting my worst parts. Recently I’ve been introduced to some modern counselling techniques. For example, the Family Systems Model argues: “There are no ‘bad’ parts and the goal of working with the system is not to eliminate parts but instead to help them take on the roles they would like.” (Derek Scott, www.yourtherapist.com) I would like to learn more about this way of thinking, because I do believe in seeing the value of some of my negative qualities or attributes. For example, I have rage in my body that I use to attack the worst parts of the world and myself. Or I lie for a living. Seems negative but I see it as a positive. How? We are All Actors means we can use lies to propel a better version of ourselves into the world.
I’m talking to myself here (as well as you).
Remember back at the beginning when I said to remember this example of my double-edged sword? It was the shell of strength I created to protect my vulnerability around feeling unlovable. That sword of strength cuts down my challenges but it also cuts me by making it harder to be vulnerable and feel self-compassion…
chapter 10 better is better than best
chapter 11 fight fear disguised as sense
There is a concept in improv, “Ready, Fire, Aim” that gets at the idea in improv that you honour (collaborative) action over planning. This is the same energy that helped me create opposite action.
Not that I don’t create crap. Hilarious concept. It’s just that it’s much smarter to leave the catching of the crap to the appropriate time during scheduled editing.
I also believe that systemic inequality (racial, economic, inequalities of opportunity, etc.) includes some of the hardest external life challenges to overcome. Some are born into situations that are horrifically trying or have abuse, systemic or individual, thrust upon them, and so this journey is even more urgent. How does anyone overcome challenge whether external or internal without character and internal power while also needing support and community? Our world is best served as we fight to overcome these inequalities. Here are a couple of links to videos that look at inequality from the opposite perspective: privilege. They are well worth the look. They are shocking, sad and enraging. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hD5f8GuNuGQ&feature=youtu.be and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K5fbQ1-zps&feature=youtu.be.
chapter 12 anticipate blowback
Maybe this is when you share your copy or give them their own copy of this book and ask them to come along for the ride? Socialize your journey and watch transformation accelerate. That is Living Out Loud.
Supposedly he said this just before being sentenced to death, so that’s something to keep in mind!
chapter 13 what's in your best interest is not always in your best interest
If you can’t stop wondering what these Viking changes were, let me put you out of your misery. First off, Vikings (and others) would, at times, burn the boats they raided with to drive deep into their raiding party’s consciousness that there was no retreat. No safety valve. No “oops, we made a mistake. Let’s all get back in our boats and find some easier people to steal life and land from.” Burned boats meant victory or death, increasing motivation for victory. I had built up a little empire of real estate to finance my life, businesses and art. Four properties with a total of nine suites. The rent my family made off these properties was enough to live on and our future was financially secure. But I found what humans often find, the ideal world I had crafted was more of a prison once constructed. I was turning into a real estate guy who dabbled in the arts and in other businesses. My brain was constantly overrun with thoughts of real estate. That was the opposite of my intention. What I had thought was in my best interest (passive real estate income), turned out to be not in my best interest. The Viking change I made here was to sell it all and use that money to finance the next part of my life. The part of my life where I focus on helping others through the hard work, the incredibly hard (but wonderful) work, of writing and speaking what’s in my heart and head. It was foolish. It was reckless. It was an unnecessary risk. These are the thoughts that crashed around in my head for years. YEARS! I believed I wouldn’t do the hard work (e.g., write this book) with such an easy path (passive income) before me. Probably I was misguided to think that. A failure of imagination on my part. Regardless, that was my Viking change.
Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (NY: Random House, 2010). This is a great book on change. I couldn’t agree more with the power of bright spots.
Having a positivity ratio of at least 3:1 (three positives to one negative interaction) increases performance. 6:1 is the ratio of highest-performing teams. Shawn Achor, Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change (NY: Random House, 2013), p. 51.
To be clear, “joy,” here, is not a woman’s name!
I hesitate making lists like this because it can be overwhelming to the reader. How can anyone reading such a huge list not get discouraged with the crushing amount of change you are expected to adopt? The way you talk to yourself matters so try instead to see a buffet of choices giving inspiration and, further, ideas on where to start. And where do you start? With the ones that seem easy to you. Start with success!
A favourite quote of mine is: “Bite off more than you can chew and then chew like hell.” (Peter Brock) This quote is applicable to the promise I made to Jeni.
conclusion how your change changes the world
I semi-regularly collect signatures for political petitions on street corners and at farmers markets for things like getting money out of politics, stop the arms race or proportional voting. What a change in the last 3 years. For decades, it was common for 80% of the people walking by to actively ignore or avoid any interaction. Ten percent were interested in hearing more and 10% were immediately hostile. Now, 40-80% (depending on the location) of the people want to know what the petition is for and they consider signing it. 40-80%!!! The Rise of the Citizen is upon us. Took long enough.
For example, I once had a woman share her story of standing in a line with her husband and very young son each morning for 2 weeks at a UN refugee camp in Eastern Europe. The army surrounding the camp wanted to kill those standing in this line. The only thing stopping them was the UN presence. Each morning during the line-up, the UN camp directors decided if they were going to leave that day. If the directors left they, themselves, would be safe but the people in the line would be brutally killed. Luckily, they stayed until the danger had passed. She explained to me how she never understood her own mind during this harrowing 2-week period but after listening to my talk she felt she now had a sense of why she had felt so light and positive. Having to Fight to be Positive for her son, meant that she carried around a lightness during this period which shocked and amazed her. We Are All Actors showed her that she had the ability to lie so effectively, even to herself, that she didn’t feel the burden of the darkness as deeply as she expected. For her son. This amazing performance! For her son. The movie Life is Beautiful springs to mind. What a blessing, hearing her story, to hear stories like this! To be part of helping her understand her own story. What could be more rewarding? One more reason to Live Out Loud.
Lots of hope, if you look for it. How the world banded together to rectify the ozone hole crisis is a good example. The race to the moon, the abrupt transition in World War II from building cars to weapons. Humans are surrounded by the proof that we can change, we can turbocharge transformation, when the stakes are high enough. Maybe it’s too late for humanity, but maybe not. I choose to focus on the maybe not. I’ll fight to be positive here. More power and possibly more solutions when we fight to be positive. My children deserve that effort, don’t they?
It’s the last footnote! My heart aches. It’s a good one, at least. Owning your life is a type of radical acceptance used in modern mindfulness and therapy. The idea that brings this concept to life for me is from Hal Elrod: “The moment you accept responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life.” Powerful stuff. OK, that’s it for footnotes! Thanks for coming along for the ride down here at the bottom of the page. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these as much as I have loved writing them.