I couldn't have been more prepared. I had practiced for hours and in the run-up to delivering my practicum at Conscious Capitalism in Chicago, I had quickly organized two test-drive pilots in Dallas. I had spent weeks carefully vetting the material until I felt confident that my program about receiving and giving feedback would provide value. It was also important to me that people had fun and were entertained.
I arrived early on the day before my program and quickly went about meeting the participants at the Chicago conference. Conscious Capitalism is a movement founded by John Mackey of Whole Foods Market, and the organization embodies many of the values I embrace. While I have been involved in the responsible business movement for over twenty years, I didn't know this particular group of folks. However, as the conversations unfolded, I saw the people in this organization were the real deal. They were mission-driven and committed to their businesses of making a positive impact in the world. Yes! This was a group I wanted to be part of. It’s still a group I want to play with! As the day progressed, I enjoyed making connections.
After a full first day, I was really looking forward to being in the audience for the evening session. The conference organizers went out on a limb and invited the Second City Comedy troupe to the stage. But I would soon realize the troupe wasn’t there to do their usual schtick. Their purpose on this night, the night before my morning session, was to connect the principles and practices of comedy improv to conscious leadership.
Uh-oh. This was all beginning to sound vaguely familiar!
As the program began, they put us through a few practices I have incorporated into my own work. We explored the idea of shifting from “yes, but” in a conversation to “yes, and...”, which is a really great way to release your own agenda to listening more intently for the other person's point of view. I even got up on the stage as they played a short game of “Statues” to illustrate how in real life, we often take a stance but may not bring our full awareness to how our “stand” can impact the other person.
Having done both comedy improv and stand-up workshops myself, I felt really jazzed by these connections. At first. Then panic set in.
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