I recently attended Kimmel Center lecture by John Cleese. While many of these events are an opportunity to listen to and simply be in the presence of great generals, heads of state, authors, and adventurers, the ‘Master of Silly Walks’ hit the mark with me.
John had quite a few pithy stories and lessons learned to share with the audience. I’ll paraphrase and share them with you, in a business context:
1. Stepping out of political correctness, every now and then, allows us to be honest, without being offensive. There’s great freedom to saying what we mean, without worry about repercussions.
Businesses—especially technically- or engineering-oriented businesses—are often paralyzed by the need to get everything exactly right, rather than focus on the audience. Take a step back, speak in the voice of your customer, and you’ll be heard with honesty and integrity.
2. Being creative requires free time and the ability to just play. Being playful produces lots of creative ideas. When’s the last time you allowed yourself to just play? Without fun, I’m afraid we’re already well down the path to become serious bores.
Take some time to allow yourself and your mind to relax. You’ll be amazed with your newfound ability to problem solve or handle a challenging situation. Go ahead and try that ‘out of the box’ idea you’ve been mulling over. It might be just the thing to get out of your comfort zone and move the bar—especially if you are a leader at your company.
3. Telling a joke, with laughter as a result, requires practice and skill. Telling a joke where people can’t stop crying, cackling, and foot stomping requires a gift.
Not everyone is, or should be, an entertainer; however, laughter can get most people to open up and more easily contribute to a conversation. And isn’t opening up a very useful objective of any company-client or boss-employee relationship.
Written by Francine Carb