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A December Chill

Heavy hearts and looking over our shoulder have become a way of life.  We no longer have the ability to get on an airplane, shop in a public place or have an evening out at the movies without checking out who is standing next to us. We have become a culture of paranoia and mistrust. Once again we are asked to find different ways to adapt, different ways to walk through this world. (Damn, I just got used to celebrating stupidity and holding my tongue due to political correctness.) No longer is terrorism confined to the fanatic, it now belongs to housewives. I guess this is the new cottage business.  How do we prepare for random acts of insanity? How do we protect our children?

The New York Times posted an editorial on the front page, the first time in since 1920, citing the epidemic of easy access to assault weapons. They blasted the political leaders and accused them of pandering saying it was a “Moral Outrage”. “They say you want a revolution”, I, like the Beatles say, “No”.  Equipping private citizens with assault rifles so they can defend their homeland is what some people propose, but this is not the Revolutionary War, this is not the birth of America where there was an aligned intent or a unified coalition dedicated to a greater cause. This is a country of personal agendas fueled by psychotic breaks. This is the land of misfit toys and I don’t think arming that is a smart idea.

I don’t have any answers myself. I just have instincts and thoughts I have found myself slowing down not being less intentional but certainly more thoughtful. No aggressive reactions or impulsive behavior, only taking umbrage two out of every five times.  This way of being does not insure our safety, it just hopefully doesn’t cause any additional problems.

Every time has its own challenges and we must find ways to mourn and laugh and persist in the times that we live in.  When something heated happens, when tragedy strikes, our tendency is to draw back to retreat to a world of insulation.  I encourage you to reach out, to speak out, to go counter to what’s predictable. I usually sign off the holiday blog with Happy Holidays, but that seems lame given the current status of things.  So I say Safe Holidays and let’s look out for one another.

Credit vs. Creativity

One of my friends was watching the most recent episode of Inside the Actors Studio hosted by James Lipton. His guest was Bryan Cranston. Now without a doubt he is one of our greatest talents. He has such range from comedic to dramatic and his dedication to his craft is formidable. That alone is rarified air but what makes him indelibly sui generis is his lack of ego and his generosity of spirit. He very graciously acknowledged me for something I said in a seminar he attended years ago. He repeated this bit of coaching I gave him that he says changed his acting career and subsequently his life. Even though this was years ago, he had this as a current touchstone and a universal truth that stands the test of time. He was emphatic as to the importance of what he had learned and he was equally emphatic about imparting this to other actors in the audience. I was, of course, moved, but not because of what he said about me but because it said so much about him. In a world looking for credit, here is a man looking to find new avenues to express his creativity and make a contribution.

The ability to translate coaching into action can only be done if you are not attempting to compete with your sources of advice, and you are not attempting to take credit for what someone else has said or done. It’s a sure bet that you will be bending the hose in the middle and congesting any flow if getting credit is your primary focus. Those who acknowledge others, those who look to give credit where credit is due, or better yet whether it’s due or not to give credit away, are nourishing their creative channel.

“Give credit away so you can create another day.” I just made up this really dumb rhyme. Unfortunately, I have to take credit for it…and actually that’s not a bad way to go. Give credit to others for all the extraordinary things that you have said and done (because there’s a certainty that you didn’t do it alone) and take credit for really stupid stuff. Your life will be richer!  I have had, and have, the greatest mentors in my life where without them I would have fallen down so many rabbit holes.  Staying open-hearted, staying innocent and curious, understanding the difference between child-like and childish and longing to continually begin again and again should be our attempt.

If you're interested in watching Bryan Cranston on Inside the Actors Studio, click below: