Create with Crap!

We all have to deal with a lot of crap — situations and people we find frustrating, disagreeable, or worse. This can make us feel demoralized, off-balance, angry, or worse. But as a performance director and improviser who is — by definition — committed to creating and building with everything, you can relate to the crap as a gift! It’s all just material to build with, to be creative with.

Creating something playful and incongruous with the crap we’re dealing with gives us some distance from our immediate reaction to it. And performing it with a group helps us go through it with others, and then we’re not so alone.

So, when the crap hits the proverbial fan, say out loud (to yourself or others), “Wow. This might actually be a gift. What’s possible now that wasn’t before?” Maybe instead of firing off your own nasty email, take a breath. Pick up the phone or walk to their office and say, “I’d love to do a ‘take-two’ on our conversation.” Use the crap as an opportunity to help you change your (and others’) performances.

Yours stinks, too. Be on the lookout for the crap you’re giving to others. Since we mostly think we’re right, or that less-than-optimal things we do are justifiably in response to something else (which could very well be), it can be hard to see. But at least on a few occasions, notice your crap and then tell people, “I really did a bunch of crap today. Got any ideas about how to be creative with it?”

Summing-up: How can we possibly perform at our best when so much of what we have to deal with every day is such crap? Try this: Instead of letting it demoralize or debilitate you, the next time something really frustrating or upsetting happens at work, write a poem, draw a cartoon, or make up a song about it.

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