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What John Leguizamo taught me about doing my work

What John Leguizamo Taught Me About Doing My Work

What John Leguizamo taught me about doing my workIt’s a well-established idea in the entrepreneurial world: “start before you’re ready.” Steven Pressfield wrote about it in his highly motivating book, Do the Work.

While I’ve taken it to heart as a mantra and find myself saying it with my daily affirmations (alongside Marie Forleo’s “everything is figure-outable”), I’ll admit I’m the last to want to start anything before I feel fully prepared. My perfectionist, anal side often just does not let me. (I’ve waited seven years to have a second child, mostly because I didn’t feel ready. See what I mean?)

I’ve mellowed out a bit over the years, mostly because of necessity, and have taken leaps – literally at my third degree black belt test and figuratively just about every day. (This blog is one good example!)

But starting before I’m ready is still hard for me. I always wonder: how? What is the actual process that allows someone to jump off a cliff, without the guarantee that some kind of safety device will activate to prevent a major catastrophe? Can someone just show me what it looks like when you do something when you’re not fully there?

Two weeks ago, I got to see how it’s done. I went to see John Leguizamo’s new stand up comedy show, Latin History for Dummies. It was artful, funny and inspiring.

John Leguizamo walked on stage and straight to one of the two props in the room, a laptop computer (the other prop was a blackboard). The computer was on.

What?! You’re gonna read your jokes? This is going to be interesting …

John told the excited audience that he was preparing his show for Broadway, and he would be reading most of his material to us, as he was still perfecting it. He would welcome our feedback.

I think someone actually said “What?” or maybe something more obscene. John made a joke about the Oscars, told us not to worry, he would make the reading worth our time. And he did!

For over an hour, John read (but not really because he already knew most of the material) at times a brilliantly funny, and at times a biting and cynical, yet real, informative, and soulful recount of history, as most people don’t know it. A couple of times he cracked himself up, and a few times he actually messed up (as in he stumbled through a few words).

The show was hilarious, and I laughed my heart out. But the biggest reason why I loved it was because I got to see how a pro does this thing called, “start before you’re ready”.

In the process I got to see – really see the man – Mr. John Leguizamo, not because of how I watched or listened but because of how he showed up: open, vulnerable, and fully present.

Here’s what I learned that evening:

Have a vision
Yes, John had a laptop for facts, numbers and some of his material. But the vision started way before there was ever a file on a computer. It started with a dream of what he wanted people to know – the untold and uncelebrated side of history – and how he wanted the people to feel; all people.

Use my tools
If a pro like John is not afraid to use notes on stage, what excuse do I have? Really?! There is no shame, no fear, and no embarrassment in using tools. Pay attention to and let go of the voices in my head that insist I memorize, perfect, fine-tune a blog post (a document, a program, or a speech) because that’s what pros do. Stop listening to those voices.

Involve others
An audience in one room is not the whole world. It is just that: one audience, one moment in time. Include the people in the room fully, by not only letting them enjoy or participate, but also by giving them a way to shape and mold the experience – if not for them, then for the next revision.

Under promise over deliver
John walked on stage and said he would read his jokes, right off the bat. I knew what to expect. During the show, however, he walked away from the laptop, a lot. In fact, I forgot all about the laptop. I was intrigued, mesmerized, entertained. It was magical!

Make people feel good
Know what I want people to walk away with. I walked away feeling light, happy, smiling. I appreciated John’s comedic genius, but also my life, my time to see the show, the people that I love who saw the show with me.

I’m totally energized to ask: where am I holding back? And where am I waiting to be ready?

What kind of mom, entrepreneur, world-changer would I be if I stopped holding back?

Here’s Steven Pressfield’s full paragraph:

“Don’t prepare. Begin.
Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project, or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account.

The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.

Start before you’re ready.
Good things happen when we start before we’re ready.”

I’d love to hear from you. Where are you holding back, and are you waiting to be ready? Leave me a comment below, and hop over to my Facebook page to find out my answers.

With love and appreciation,

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P.S: I recommend the show whole-heartedly!

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Are you feeling behind already?

 

“Each day is a little life” – Schopenhauer

The magic dust of New Year excitement has settled. It now takes longer to see the sparkle in the midst of preparing lunches, attending meetings, and doing life every day. I recently caught myself evaluating how I’m doing by analyzing my output thus far, which inevitably led me to feeling like I’m not doing quite “enough”, and like I’m already falling “behind” (whatever that means). Feeling behind, in one word, feels: Yuck!

Depending on the study you read, it takes 21, 28, or 66 days to build a habit. This is why we have 21 days cleanses, 28 days diet plans, or three months to a 5K programs. Most of us put our best effort forward for those days, and then, admittedly fall off the band wagon again, and again, and again.

blog post 1Here’s my interesting non-scientific observation both of myself and my students: it only takes one failure to take down our meticulously built tower of confidence, one mean glance to make our delicate self-esteem shatter into million pieces, one limited belief to make our teeter-totter balancing self-worth lean to the side of insignificance.

That’s just c r a z y!

Sure it can take one day to stop a healthy habit, to postpone our dreams, or to make ourselves and others miserable. But by that same token, it takes only one day to get back on the inspiration bus and on the unstoppable action route to dream-your-big-life land. Here’s a list of a few of my favorite things to do when I’m feeling that “not quite enough and totally behind” feeling:

1. Shrug and Flush

I’ve learned to say “oh well” even though I know my seeming indifference to the issue at hand would drive my mother mad (as it makes me too). As I tell the kids: you don’t stand there and look at your poop in the potty, do you? You flush it! Flush the mistakes, the mean words, the sour looks. Flush, flush, flush. (I use the toilet brush too when necessary).

2. Smile

When I was a dancer I was taught to smile in spite of the blisters on my feet inside the pointe shoes, the tight hair bun giving me a headache, the long rehearsals. One of my favorite mantras is: no matter what, smile!

3. Get an inspiration infusion stat

I get my inspiration from walking in nature. I have a special spot where the pelicans come to hang out at the Bayshore. I love watching them organize themselves for long trips, and take flight. I go there to listen to my thoughts and to talk to my inner spirit. I go there to pray and say thank you. Whatever it is that inspires you – music, art, reading, watching movies, exercising, a TED talk – take one hour off and indulge yourself.

4. Do the Work

Sometimes the best cure for the yuck feeling is blocking out time on the calendar with your Chief Executive You, turn off email, phone and any other interruptions and get the work done! In a favorite book of mine, Do the Work, Steven Pressfield says it well: “Resistance is a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.” You hear the man: Do the Work! (Read the book if you need to add another source of inspiration to your infusion above.)

5. Take a Siesta

Sometimes the truth is simple: we just need to take a break. We don’t do it more often because we feel we should be doing something more productive instead. Why would you waste this precious time taking a break? My Qigong teacher, Dr. Roger Jahnke calls this “napping Qigong”. A great many things happen when we rest; our body restores and replenishes. Our mind relaxes and declutters. Our spirit performs jumping jacks and blissful cartwheels.

6. Start with Thank You!

It sounds cliché and yet here it is: be grateful for what you have. Here is the full extent of the quote at the start of this post:

 

“Each day is a little life; every waking and rising a little birth; every fresh morning a little youth;every going to rest and sleep a little death.”

Knowing that you have one more special gift to have a full life today, what one person, dream, place, thing can you be grateful for and how will you show it?

With love, for the joy you bring to my life, your generosity in reading this blog, your persistence advocating for wellbeing for yourself and your kids.

I thank you!