Thursday, July 24, 2008

How to win friends and influence people.

My mistake happened this weekend. It was the sort of error that you wouldn't notice unless you were really paying attention. Somebody said something to me while I was onstage doing a comedy show, and it threw me off my game. I kept going with the comedy show, but I stopped enjoying it. Eventually, that little seed of self-consciousness grew into a tree of insecurity. By the end of the show, I'd started struggling and was not having a good time, which is a real shame when you consider that I was doing something that I love doing and had taken time off work early to be able to do. But, at the time when I was onstage judging myself and in a panic, I'd forgotten why I was there. I was just up there, trying to get onstage, trying to get my groove back, trying to survive. It was not a total disaster, for me struggling through a show can still generate some decent comedy - and I had people onstage who weren't "in their heads" like me, people were trying to help me.

My problem was that I wasn't returning the favor. I was thinking about myself, my level of comfort, how *I* was doing, how the mistakes that were happening were not my fault.

But it was all my fault that I had a bad show. It was all my fault that I didn't have a good time. It was all my fault that my mind wasn't where it should've been and that my job as a performer wasn't done the right way.

The people who were trying to help me should've gotten an equal lift from me trying to help them, but I was not doing that. I wasn't trying to make them look good. I was out there in a panic, putting myself into a bad mood while trying unsuccessfully to save myself.

That can't happen again. And I can't keep going over it in my head. So instead, I'm going to work on my attitude.

I have a task. I'm setting it for myself and working on it alone. I'm not going to worry about what I did wrong. That's in the past. I'm going to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

I don't want to be in my head so much that I can't see the effect I have on myself or other people anymore - onstage or in my life. I need to focus my energies outside of myself and relate to people better.

When I changed jobs, had the puppet show happen and had to move back in with my mom for a couple months, there was a book at her house that I've sold to many, many people at the bookstore called WHO MOVED MY CHEESE. It was just sitting around the bathroom, and I picked it up, more to scoff at it than anything else, but reading it actually provided me with a lot of comfort in regard to the changes that I was going through at the time. And, when the changes come again, I hope I'm better able to face them.

So I've picked up a couple more self-help books from a box of my father's stuff - specifically Norman Vincent Peale's THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING and Dale Carnegie's HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE - to see if they'll help me fix my attitudes and my way of dealing with people. And, last night at Steak 'n' Shake when I started to read my father's old copy of Dale Carnegie's business motivation book, HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE, the book said that you should write down and constantly review how you used the principles of the book in everyday life.

I figured that it might make for interesting blog entries and improve my improv skills, and I do have a legitimate desire and curiosity about how to improve my relations with other people. So I thought I would try it.

OK, so here's a new personal project.

I'm going to apply HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE to my life, and I'm going to blog about it.

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