Monday, April 7, 2008

Day Two: The moratorium begins.

I spend a lot of time in meetings, hammering out process and working on projects with people from different departments and different functions as well as external agencies. Everyone brings their own perspectives—which is part of why we all get put in one room. 

It's human nature to defend your ideas and protect your points of view. But taken to the extreme, it's usually at least disruptive and at worst destructive. In our corner of the corporate world, we talk a lot about putting the good of the group ahead of your personal agenda, and if that isn't improv talk, I don't know what is. 

When meetings get especially challenging, I try to remind myself to approach it like I do a rehearsal or a show. I would never plan a scene in my head while Pete and Josh are improvising. It wouldn't in a million years occur to me to follow Rob and Nikki's scene by trying to convince the audience mine is better. And I don't typically sit with my arms folded on the back-up line, just assuming Michael and Megan are out to screw me over. 

Corporate stakes tend to be a lot higher than the success or failure of an improv show. The thing I have to continually remind myself is that the way I behave in a troupe will get better results than defending my agenda to the death.

I don't know anyone who doesn't check their personal e-mail and favorite sites at work. But I'm going to have to make a rule that I don't. 

Because lately, the improv stuff stresses me out more than any meeting I'm in. Will we be ready for the festival? Will manage to get a rehearsal scheduled? Will anyone come to the festival fundraisers (workshops! kickball!)? Will everyone agree that we want to take the troupe in the same direction? Will we find rehearsal space? Am I pissing off everyone in every troupe I'm in by pushing to get rehearsals scheduled? Will (insert improv antagonist name here) anger (other improviser/troupe) with what's written on his/her forum post/blog/e-mail? (And why do I worry about stuff like this? Am I everyone's mother? What the hell is wrong with me?) If my troupe members are annoyed with me, will they say so or just seethe quietly? Will anyone come to our next show? Will the world come to an end if I don't ANSWER THIS E-MAIL RIGHT NOW?!!?!

I know. I know. This. And this.  

Anyway, first time I checked my e-mail this morning, my shoulders shot straight up to right about ear level. And they've stayed that way ALL. FREAKING. DAY. 

So in an effort to achieve balance and focus, for one week, I'm not reading e-mails from improvisers, checking the City 3 forums, looking at my improv events on Facebook or reading improviser blogs between the hours of 9am and 5:45pm. NOT EVEN AT LUNCH. It's gone from being a fun, momentary diversion from stressful work stuff to stressful work stuff. If you want to reach me during the day, there'd damn well better be a picture of my nephew attached.

I've done this long enough to realize that this kind of thing hits me in waves. I just need to hyper-compartmentalize for a while. AND to remember to think like an improviser when I'm not improvising. That would help, too. 


  1. Well, having a job where I can't check my e-mail regularly or the forums has, in addition to having to cut back on the number of troupes I perform with, drastically cut back on my own involvement in the KC improv community as a whole, The City 3 Project and festival included.

    Honestly, at first, it was a bit of a relief, as I may have been a bit over committed. Though at the same time, I do admit, I miss it all quite a bit.

    I check my personal e-mail now, in the morning before work and at night when I get home. Only out of necessity. If I could, I would be checking probably hourly.

    Honestly Trish, I think you might be over committing yourself a bit right now, between the groups you're coaching, groups you're playing with, and shows you're producing.

    Rather than disconnect communications from the projects you have, after this week long experiment, my advice would be to find ways to be less of a "Go to person" for everything in those projects. The secret lies in better delegation of responsibilities*.

    *Though facts have shown that delegation of said responsibilities don't necessarily yield the greatest results, including assignments given to your faithful commenter.

  2. Just remember, Improv is a hobby.

  3. *mental back rub* Hey, there is NO WAY we won't be ready for the festival, we can do this! *fist pump*

  4. You're right. You're all right. I know you're right.

    It'd be easier to be less of a go-to person if:
    —I knew stuff would get done if I didn't do it.
    —I didn't care if it didn't get done if I didn't do it.
    —It didn't MATTER if it didn't get done if I didn't do it.

    So it's part overcommitted, part control freak, part enabler. And a vicious, angry cycle...

    But writing all this crap down is helping me realize there is stuff I can eliminate, which is cool.

    And thanks, sugarbumkin...we ARE going to kick this thing in the ass.

  5. Plus I will get you those festival bios.


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