Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dividing My Attention

     It's possible to love two things, right? It has to be, because I'm doing my darnedest to make this work. I rededicate myself to work and comedy every day. And it occurred to me recently that I'm actually pretty damn lucky. There are way worse problems than having too many things to care about in your life.
     In an amazing and weird way, work and comedy are connected. In an ideal, perfect, dream world, comedy would be my work and they would be connected because they would literally be the same thing. That hasn't happened yet. And it may not and I have to be ok with that. I'm going to keep trying though. In the meantime, I have these two amazing things I enjoy and am passionate about and that's effing lucky.
    I was talking about invocation with a teammate of mine the other day. If you don't know, invocation is an opening for a Harold used to generate ideas for the scenes that will follow. I love doing an invocation. Sometimes, doing the invocation is the most fun bit of it for me. I separate myself and watch the team doing it from the outside and am in awe of how in 3 minutes we went from "flower" to "I Am the Cure for Childhood Cancer." (That's funny in context, really.) We got there as a team because we all worked together and built on one another's ideas and didn't deny or judge anything. And then when we look back at how we got there, we see the thread; we can find our roots from "childhood cancer cure" to "flowers." And we do all of this in about 45-seconds. It's amazing. I love it.
    I'm also reading "Onward" by Howard Schultz. He's an inspiring person; he must be, really, to get to where he is today. He talks a lot about connecting to our roots at the same time as looking forward. "Onward" talks about the struggles Starbucks went through in 2007 and the subsequent economic downturn. He didn't use the same words, but so much of what he described reminded me of an invocation. He had a vision to move the company forward while maintaining the thread that led him back to his roots.
     During the Harold, we rarely go back to just the suggestion. This isn't a hard and fast rule; we do do it. But in general, we build on all of those other things we created in 3 minutes. We don't just live in the past (the past here is 3 minutes ago at the initial suggestion), we move forward. We build using a few guiding principles  we've been taught in our improv courses. And that's what Howard Schultz was doing too. He didn't want to live in the past. He wanted to stay connected to the past (Pike Place Market and the whole lot) while building something using a few guiding principles that he put forth as a Mission Statement.
     Nurture the Human Spirit. The common thread through Starbucks' mission and through performing improv is that it nurtures the human spirit. It happens one cup and one game move at a time.