Let’s do an experiment you and I. I’m going to share with you some people that I personally admire and then encourage you to watch a video and read a bit about them. You will receive their name, their qualities, a video about them, and the introduction to their Wikipedia article. Then I will encourage you to think about these people and ask yourself “What qualities do I need in order to admire someone? Who are those that I admire most?” Sound good? Ok, let’s begin.

But first, what are some of the qualities I admire in other people?

  1. Courage – both the ability to do something that frightens one as well as having strength in the face of pain or grief.
  2. Humanity – humaneness, and benevolence.
  3. Clarity – transparency, certainty, purity, and intelligence
  4. Kindness – the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
  5. Humor -the quality of being amusing or comic, especially as expressed in literature or speech.

Daryl Davis


I first heard about Daryl with his connection to befriending and affecting the hearts of white supremacists. Then I learned he played with Chuck Berry and is an amazing musician. 

From Wikipedia: Daryl Davis is an American R&B and blues musician, author, actor and bandleader.[1] Known for his energetic style of Boogie-woogie piano,[1] Davis has played with such musicians as Chuck Berry,[1][2] Jerry Lee LewisB. B. King,[2] Bruce Hornsby, and Bill Clinton.[3][4] His efforts to improve race relations, in which as an African-American he engaged with members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), have been reported on by media such as CNN and The Washington Post.[5][6][7]Davis summed up his advice as: “Establish dialogue. When two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting.”[8]

Davis is a Christian and he has used his religious beliefs to convince Klansmen to leave and denounce the KKK

Lin-Manuel Miranda


Lin-Manuel captured my heart first with his Broadway musical “Hamilton” and then by watching numerous interviews and documentaries about him. It also doesn’t hurt that Emma Watson is in this video as she would fit into my “admire” top twenty list if there were such a thing. 

From Wikipedia: Lin-Manuel Miranda (/lɪn mænˈwɛl məˈrændə/; born January 16, 1980) is an American composer, lyricist, playwright, and actor best known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals Hamilton and In the Heights. He co-wrote the songs for Disney‘s Moana soundtrack (2016) and is set to star in their upcoming film Mary Poppins Returns. Miranda’s awards include a Pulitzer Prize, two Grammy Awards, an Emmy Award, a MacArthur Fellowship, and three Tony Awards.

Ellen DeGeneres


You don’t need me to say anything about Ellen. You know her already. Give the video a watch. 

From Wikipedia: Ellen Lee DeGeneres (/dɪˈɛnərɪs/; born January 26, 1958)[2] is an American comedian, television host, actress, writer, and producer.[3] DeGeneres starred in the popular sitcom Ellen from 1994 to 1998 and has hosted her syndicated TV talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, since 2003.

Her stand-up career started in the early 1980s, and included a 1986 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. As a film actress, DeGeneres starred in Mr. Wrong (1996), appeared in EDtv (1999), and The Love Letter (1999), and provided the voice of Dory in the Pixar animated films Finding Nemo (2003) and Finding Dory (2016); for Nemo, she was awarded the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress, the first time an actress won a Saturn Award for a voice performance. In 2010, she was a judge on American Idol for its ninth season.

Brian Cox


If you watch this quick video you may find yourself spending hours having science explained to you in a way that makes perfect sense. 

From Wikipedia: Brian Edward Cox OBE FRS (born 3 March 1968) is an English physicist who serves as professor of particle physics at the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester.[8][9] He is best known to the public as the presenter of science programmes, especially the Wonders of… series[10][11][12] and for popular science books, such as Why Does E=mc²? and The Quantum Universe. He has been the author or co-author of over 950 scientific publications.[13]

Cox has been described as the natural successor for BBC‘s scientific programming by both David Attenborough and Patrick Moore.[14][15] Before his academic career, Cox was a keyboard player for the bands D:Ream and Dare. He earns £250,000 – £299,999 as a BBC presenter[16]

Andy Stanley


I attended one of Andy Stanley’s churches for a while and have watched and listened to many hours of his programming. Give this video a go.

From Wikipedia: Charles Andrew “Andy” Stanley (born May 16, 1958) is the senior pastor of North Point Community ChurchBuckhead ChurchBrowns Bridge Church, Gwinnett Church, Woodstock City Church, and Decatur City Church. He also founded North Point Ministries, which is a worldwide Christian organization.

Tawakkol Karman


I discovered Tawakkol Karaman while researching for this blog entry. She is amazing. 

From Wikipedia: Tawakkol Karman is a Yemeni journalist, politician, and human rights activist. She leads the group “Women Journalists Without Chains,” which she co-founded in 2005.[3] She became the international public face of the 2011 Yemeni uprising that is part of the Arab Spring uprisings. She has been called the “Iron Woman” and “Mother of the Revolution” by Yemenis. Karman, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, were the co-recipients of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”[63] Of Karman, the Nobel Committee said: “In the most trying circumstances, both before and during the ‘Arab spring’, Tawakkul Karman has played a leading part in the struggle for women’s rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen.”[63][64] The Nobel Committee cited the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, adopted in 2000, which states that women and children suffer great harm from war and political instability and that women must have a larger influence and role in peacemaking activities; it also “[c]alls on all actors involved, when negotiating and implementing peace agreements, to adopt a gender perspective.”

 Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

Over the past 20 years, I have worked my way in and out of believing in my dreams. Sacrificing and working hard for what I want is something that was instilled in me by my parents, but sometimes, even with hard work, our goals can stay just out of reach. Below are five things in life that  I wanted, thought had become unattainable, and then achieved:

Find someone who gets me and whom I can support

I’m sure everyone has had that experience of “the one who got away.” By the time I moved to Atlanta in 2001, I was fairly certain that the right person for me was someone I had already dated and was already out of my life. What I was looking for was someone who could deal with my peculiar personality, my eccentricities, as well as my anxiety. As I started to date in Atlanta, the belief that the one for me had escaped grew stronger and stronger. Even though I was still asking for dates, I couldn’t shake that I wasn’t going to find someone who could understand me and be able to put up with me on a daily basis.

The main criteria I had for finding someone to marry was that I needed to be able to “back their play.” This meant that I would be able to support how they treated and spoke to others in their lives. Knowing that I had created an unattainable set of criteria, I all but gave up looking.

I finally met the woman of my dreams in the office I worked in at SunTrust Bank. She always walked by my desk staring straight ahead of her and never noticed me. This, of course, made me crazy and I went about looking for some way to both get her attention and keep it. We have been happily married since 2004.

Find my way back to improvisation

From 1996 until 2011 I was after one thing, Improvisation as Theatre. I wanted to make a type of improv that inspired others to think of improv as art in addition to being comedy. As the years went on I invested myself more and more until, around 2009, I started to burn out. I was stretching myself too thin and nothing I was touching was working well. Finally, in 2011 I was done. I closed the doors to my improv theatre and walked away to find another life.

Anytime I thought about improv it made my stomach hurt and my bones ache. I decided I was done. That chapter of my life was over. I was pretty sure I would never return to it.

Then, in 2013, a part of me woke up again. I started to think about improv in a way that seemed healthy and productive. In 2014 I was given the opportunity to use all my years of improv training and experience in a new way at DuMore Improv. Now it is clear to me that improv never left me. It was in my bones and in how I treated others. What left was what place it held in my life and what priority it took.

Leave a nine to five job and work for me

When I was hired by DuMore Improv in 2014, it was a few months after I had made the leap into entrepreneurship. When I left the safe confines of my nine to five job, it was one of the greatest feelings of my life. True, it was scary, but it was also exhilarating and freeing.

Over the years I had seen multiple opportunities come and go that would have allowed me to leave my day job. Each time one of those opportunities came, something else happened that kept me in the safe zone. The epitome of these opportunities was in 2007 when I was just about to step out on my own and was confronted by the Sub Prime Mortage crisis.

Finally, in 2014, I was handed a severance package along with the rest of my team. When I saw the amount of severance I would get, I realized that this was the opportunity I needed to get out there and make this happen.

It is 2017 and I am still out here making it happen.

Have a child

I have had a rocky relationship with the idea of having children. When I was young I had a constant worry that if I were to have a child that something in me would cause me to leave my family the same way that my biological father left me. When I got past this fear I was met with another.

For many years I feared that my anxiety would make me incapable of doing right by a child or being a good father. When I got past this fear I was met with a reality.

In 2004 my wife and I got married. We began trying for a child. Years went by. We weren’t getting pregnant despite all of our reading and studies and it was constantly on our minds. We decided to try paying to have the sun and the moon align for us in a turkey baster, but still… no child. We decided to stop trying and just try to accept that we wouldn’t have kids. When I got past this, we were hit with a tragedy.

In 2009 my wife and I finally got pregnant. We made it all the way to finding out her gender. The very next day, we lost her. It was horrible. Here is what I wrote to our friends and family:
To all of our Friends and Family,
Mary and I wanted to let you all know that sadly, we lost our little baby girl last night due to an unforeseeable and likewise unpreventable issue with her cervix. We are still at the hospital but will be going home today. We are both making it through and, though we are grieving, our faith is seeing us through this hard time.
Her name was Sarah Katherine. We named her that just Tuesday, in fact, when we did the ultrasound that shared the good news that she was a she! That name is hers and we will love her always as our first child.
If you are asking the question “what can we do to help” the answer is to please pray for us and for the first day or so please do not call as we will be trying to enter back into our lives and catch up on some sleep.
Thank you all so much for being so amazing in our lives! – Jim and Mary Karwisch

This was the hardest place I think I have ever been as a human. Mary and I clung to each other and healed with each other. We continued to heal but we were sure at this point that whatever had allowed us to get pregnant was too much of a fluke to count on happening again. When we got past this, we believed it was not ever going to happen for us. The door was closed. Then it happened…
In 2013 we got pregnant with our son, Elijah. Mary immediately went on bed rest and stayed there for five solid months. He made it through with flying colors and at the time of this writing, he is a happy and healthy five-year-old boy.

Find a place where I feel safe letting my son play in the yard

This week my wife and I signed a lease on a house here in Rome, Georgia. We are an hour and a half from Atlanta and most of it is for the simple reason that we want Elijah to experience being able to play outside with his friends and not have something horrible happen to him. Mary and I both grew up in the 80’s when you were sent outside for the day and called home for dinner. In today’s world living near a major city just doesn’t allow that to be possible. I read a story not too long ago about a mother who allowed her child to cross the street and play in a patch of manicured grass. Someone called DFCS on her. She had to defend why her child was across the street from her house.

Now I live in a house I never thought we would have, where a child I never thought we would meet can play, while I work from my home office I never thought I would sit in, to book improv training I never thought I would be doing, supported by a wife I never thought I would find.

So what about you? What is still possible for you in life that you have given up on?

Shoulders of Giants (what does this mean?)

 Photo by LifeLike Creations on Unsplash

Allison Gilmore at DuMore Improv

While watching my son play in the yard with the neighborhood kids, I received a call from an old friend whom I had not spoken with in a very long time. He described his life now and what he had been through the past couple of years. Being the kind hearted listener that I am, I reminded him that I will always listen without judgement anytime he is willing to talk. He paused and then, in kindness, said, “I know you understand me, James,  and you may have been ready to listen, but I wasn’t in a place to tell.”

This was a fantastic reminder to me that timing involves both parties. Being someone who can offer a safe, judgement free space and an ear to listen, with a focus on understanding, is only one part of the equation. The other person has to be ready. What someone needs in order to be ready to tell you what is happening on their side can be varied and even tenuous.

When we offer a patient ear, we may need to practice a level of patience that transcends our normal conversational expectations. We may need to give time. Real time. More than we think is appropriate based on our own limited understanding of the situation.

 Photo by Milos Simic on Unsplash

My experiment for today was to improvise a story based on ten random words from TextFixer’s Random Word Generator.  With no preconception of the story I would tell, I decided that I would use one generated word, in order, per sentence, and loop them until the story had some sort of ending. I gave myself the limitation of not using the delete key and only editing for grammar afterward and not for content.

Here are the words: westwork, eight, brightly, elsewhere, elephants, wartime, already, ideal, headquarters, freakish.

Results are below!

Ethan stepped to the edge of Westwork Inc’s rooftop, his polished wing tip shoes peeking over the street forty floors below. It was three minutes till eight which meant he had three minutes to make a very difficult decision. He glanced at the Westwork illuminated logo three floors below him, its soulless neon shining brightly on the windows of condominiums one street over. Ethan wanted to be elsewhere, anywhere, even home, if it meant escaping his entangled fate. Footsteps sounded like elephants on the metal stairs leading upward to the roof exit. He turned around and faced the door, his adrenaline causing his heart to percuss upon his rib cage as though in wartime. The seconds were stretching as he breathed-in the end he knew was already upon him. He held out a small pistol he had taken from David’s desk drawer, though not ideal, it would speak to his intent. The door opened revealing a stream of armed FBI agents, two of whom he recognized from his last visit to headquarters. As they lined up around him, he made his decision and raised the pistol toward the nearest agent, his face broadening to a freakish grin.

“Ethan, you don’t need to do this” Said one of the more familiar agents “Westwork doesn’t deserve your loyalty.” From his pocket, a chime played on his cell phone indicating it was eight o’clock. Two of the closest gunmen switched on their flashlights brightly illuminating the rain soaked roof. Elsewhere, sounds of a helicopter grew louder though not in sight. He remembered a story about elephants who learned to be helpless when, as babies, their tails were tied to a stake in the ground. Ethan let the gun go limp in his hand as he stepped backward off the ledge, his final contribution to the wartime project, to Westwork inc, and to David. An agent rushed forward to catch him, but it was already too late, and Ethan was already free.

Shoulders of Giants (what does this mean?)

 Photo by Ryan Young on Unsplash

 TextFixer Random Generator


This morning I was reading through the About page of my friend Justin Blackman over at http://prettyflycopy.com/ where I was reminded of a wonderful poem by Shel Silverstein.


Hippo’s Hope –a poem by Shel Silverstein

There once was a hippo who wanted to fly —
Fly-hi-dee, try-hi-dee, my-hi-dee-ho.
So he sewed him some wings that could flap through the sky —
Sky-hi-dee, fly-hi-dee, why-hi-dee-go.
He climbed to the top of a mountain of snow —
Snow-hi-dee, slow-hi-dee, oh-hi-dee-hoo.
With the clouds high above and the sea down below —
Where-hi-dee, there-hi-dee, scare-hi-dee-boo.

(Happy ending)
And he flipped and he flapped and he bellowed so loud —
Now-hi-dee, loud-hi-dee, proud-hi-dee-poop.
And he sailed like an eagle, off into the clouds —
High-hi-dee, fly-hi-dee, bye-hi-dee-boop.

(Unhappy ending)
And he leaped like a frog and he fell like a stone —
Stone-hi-dee, lone-hi-dee, own-hi-dee-flop.
And he crashed and he drowned and broke all his bones —
Bones-hi-dee, moans-hi-dee, groans-hi-dee-glop.

(Chicken ending)
He looked up at the sky and looked down at the sea —
Sea-hi-dee, free-hi-dee, whee-hi-dee-way.
And he turned and went home and had cookies and tea —
That’s hi-dee, all hi-dee, I have to say.

Did you read the poem all the way through? Good.

Question 1: Which choice was your knee jerk reaction as the way the hippo should go?

When you read the choices, did you think “Well if it were me, I would…”? I know people that fit into both the “try” and the “chicken” category.

  • I know those who would try because they believe that they can succeed even if their project or idea seems like a hippo who is about to break all his bones.
  • I know those who would go home and be fine that they were called a chicken because they survived. Let someone else take crazy risks, I’ll be smart and live to stay safe another day.
  • I also know those who would want to go home but would bristle at being in the category of “chicken” and that would spur them on. These are the Marty McFly’s of our world. They are not going with their own instincts but instead allowing themselves to make a choice based on the thoughts and opinions of others.

Question 2: Which was the most satisfying ending for the hippo?

When you read that there was a chance the hippo could fly, did you lean toward that being the best ending? He wants to fly, he risks everything and succeeds?

Was it more satisfying to see the hippo break all his bones? Serves you right hippo… What made you even consider you could fly?

Or perhaps you enjoyed the final ending most. Would you rather the danger be averted entirely? Perhaps just feeling the tension released for the hippo was more satisfying than the idea that he might succeed and fly.

Question 3: Do you give others the same advice you give yourself?

When you answered the first two questions, did you choose the same approach as you did ending? If it is someone else taking the risk would you rather see them take the plunge than taking the risk yourself?

If you are watching someone in your same position make a choice, do you believe that they should go for it, even if you would probably play it safe?

Take another look at the poem.

  • Do you give others the same advice you give yourself?
  • Do you advise your children to play it safe when you yourself tried to fly? Vice-versa?
  • Do you see a difference in how you would give advice now than at another season in your life?
  • When someone else is taking the risk, do you tell yourself a story that they are more likely to succeed?

Finally, do you think that you will regret the moments where you did not try to fly? 

Shoulders of Giants (what does this mean?)

Photo by Stefan Steinbauer on Unsplash




With each day that passes and with each new advancement in technology, our brains are freed up from carrying around facts like phone numbers, addresses, and birthdates. We are now able to retrieve information almost instantly from anywhere and then backup new data in the cloud where a hungry washing machine or a cup of coffee cannot destroy it. We trust these outboard brains so much that most of us cannot recall more than a few phone numbers of friends and family.

Outboard brains can take many shapes; a dry erase calendar in our kitchen, a journal, a smart phone or a post-it-note on the corner of our monitor where we prominently display our network password. There is a moment, however, that we often do not think to use an outboard brain, where it could help us shift seamlessly from informal conversation into idea generation. 

The issue we are attempting to overcome happens when we have entered into a state of flow in our conversation but we have not yet entered into a recognizable collaboration session. It often starts at lunch or on a coffee break or at the tail end of another discussion.

When the shift occurs from conversation to collaboration we often make mistakes due to a fear of losing that great idea we just generated, or getting lost within the overall idea landscape. These mistakes usually take the shape of either minimizing our listening or maximizing how aggressively we push our ideas forward in the conversation. Many times it is both of these combined.

If we cannot perfectly hold an idea in our mind while fully listening to ideas that are already being shared, it makes sense that we would entrust these ideas to an outboard brain.

So let’s talk about what the shift in conversation looks like so we know when and how to incorporate the outboard brain.

  1. The reason we are in the same room together is not formally for the purpose of problem solving or idea generation.
  2. Our enjoyment of the conversation and lack of self-consciousness causes us to enter into a creative state of flow.
  3. Through the course of a regular discussion, a need or problem is discovered.
  4. Without those involved realizing it, all of these factors combine and form a rapid generation of ideas.
  5. One or more individuals involved in the conversation becomes overwhelmed by the sheer number of ideas that are being generated or by a lack of vision of how these ideas combine together.
  6. One or more individuals involved stops listening in order to retain their idea, interrupting others and start pushing their idea harder, or begins to take notes vigorously on a notepad and disconnects from what is being shared.

The trouble with legal pads as your only outboard brain

Capturing information in an informal environment often takes the form of opening up a legal pad, or journal, and taking notes. The trouble with legal pads is that they are only usable as a map by one person in the conversation and we often are forced to dominate the flow of the conversation to make sure that we get all of the ideas captured. We usually end up with two separate note pads or with someone depending on another for capturing and restating the ideas.

The trouble with whiteboards as your only outboard brain

Many workplaces are equipped with whiteboards and markers to capture ideas the are generated in brainstorms and meetings. Whiteboards are fantastic when they fit the need of the meeting, however, there are a few times when they are not the best fit. Here are a few problems with whiteboards.

  1. In order to use them, we often must rise from our chairs, uncap a marker, and turn our back on our fellow conversationalist in order to capture the thought in our head. When we are in a conversation that is shifting into idea generation, rising from the table can disrupt flow by being an unexpected gear shift.
  2. Holding the marker is also a single point of power in the conversation and we often feel that only one of us can hold the marker at the same time. Two people uncapping markers at the same time can cause a feeling of conflict and cause a disorganized feeling within the conversation.
  3. Once something is written on the board, the only way to move it is to erase it and rewrite it again somewhere else. What often happens instead is that we continue to write further and further away from our original space and we end up with ideas that are not sorted, prioritized or as clear as would benefit the current conversation.

Post-it-notes to the rescue!

The best method I have found for engaging an outboard brain spontaneously during conversation is to make sure that I always carry two sharpie markers and a post-it-note pad on my person. I also make sure these simple tools are available at all times in locations where conversations occur naturally in the work environment.

At the moment when someone involved in the conversation recognizes that lots of ideas are happening, they simply uncap a sharpie marker and write one of the ideas down in large letters on a post-it-note. They peel off the post-it-note and set the note over onto table, desk or whatever is available. This can be done in a way that shows the current speaker that you have an idea to capture but also that you want to return back to their thought as soon as possible.

The key to making this work is simple. If I am speaking and in mid thought and I see you reach over and write something on a post-it-note, I take that moment to write the concept words of the idea I am sharing on a post-it-note pad as well. When we are both finished I launch back into my idea and finish it up. Because I saw you write on your own note I know the topic and can ask you to share it with me.

Using Legal pads, post-it-notes, and whiteboards together well.

  1. Capture main ideas onto post it notes and place where they can be seen by the group
  2. Capture specific turns of phrase into your journal and note the main topic that it is attached to for future retrieval
  3. Use whiteboards to map out the inner workings of ideas once you have posted them, discussed them and prioritized them.

I hope this breakdown has helped you to think through those shifts from conversation to collaboration. What have I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

Shoulders of Giants (what does this mean?)

 Photograph by Brodie Vissers

Tools of the trade

About a month ago, I went out to my car to drive downtown for a talk I was giving. My car was parked on the street and as it came into view I noticed that a large portion of my front bumper was missing. The passenger door was caved in and there were long red streaks down the rest of the side toward the trunk. On the ground beside my rear wheel was a chunk of someone’s else’s front bumper. There were no other cars around. I never heard a crash and no one came to our door to let us know this had happened. The police came out and filed a report. The insurance agent did an estimate. A tow truck took the car to the shop. All of these things happened while I retained a good mood and did not experience a wash of anxiety.

Was this because I hated that car and wanted it gone? Nope. In fact I was really hoping I could get another five years out of it.

Was it because I am an improv evangelist and I “yes, anded” my way into a blissful state? Nope. Though yes anding things definitely helps in certain situations, it was not even necessary this go round.

The answer to my mood and acceptance of the situation is that I was primed for it. Just a few weeks prior to this experience with my car, our other car also had a problem. This time however there were lots of different emotions running amuck.

We were all in the car driving my wife and my mother in law to the airport on the south side of Atlanta. About an hour and a half drive with moderate traffic. We had given ourselves plenty of time and decided to stop and get something to snack on. As we were about to drive away from the drive thru window the engine cut out. The line for the drive thru was so long that it wrapped around the entire building. I tried to start it again but to no avail. My five year old started to scream about something from the back seat. I tried the ignition again but it wouldn’t crank. I decided to put it into neutral and push it. It wouldn’t go into neutral.

People behind me were starting to get upset. Everyone’s food was getting cold. The drive thru workers were attempting to run food and debit cards back and forth past my window. We finally figured out how to get someone near enough to our car to jump it off. We thanked them and headed off down the street looking for an auto parts store. Unfortunately, a mile down the road,  it happened again. This time we were on the side of the road and fast cars were flying by. The clock was ticking. Our window of opportunity to get my family to the airport was closing. If they didn’t make the flight then they wouldn’t get to the start of their tour in Scotland. I felt a wash of anxiety and started to work on calming myself down. The next step was easy. We picked up the phone and called for both a tow truck and our relatives who live nearby.

An hour and forty five minutes later, everything was back in balance. My wife and mother in law were nearing the airport and would make it on time. I was back at home with my son getting our other car ready for our day of adventure. It was all ok. Everything worked out.

This was when I started to process my reactions to the situation. Why had I gotten so upset about dealing with our broken down vehicle? My first thought was “Well I would be fine if it were just an inconvenience, but there was so much pressure to get out of the way at the drive thru and to get everyone to their flight on time.” This didn’t hold up long under scrutiny however when my brain returned “All of those things are inconveniences. No one was in real danger. No one was in pain. Everyone was healthy. This was just one big inconvenience.”

So primed with this experience and the following mental processing I was able to look at my wrecked front end and think “well this is inconvenient. Glad no one was hurt here. I hope the driver of the other car was ok.”

I now hope that this  new way of thinking will last.  When things are going wrong I would like to be able to find perspective and think “Well this is inconvenient, but everyone is safe. It will all work out.”

I have only been a part of a daily blogging challenge since the beginning of August 2017, but already I see great value and results in my life from participating.

1.) The daily deadline has pushed me to the edges of my creative flow and formed it into a consistently achievable and sustainable state of being.

2.) It has allowed me to form real value from the fringe thoughts that have floated around my mind for some time now.

3.) It has shown me that I can make time for creating content even at the busiest time of my year.

4.) It has generated ideas for curriculum, exercises and coaching techniques that are exciting and fun.

5.) it has gained me the attention of potential clients who formally we’re on aware of my skill set and offerings.

After speaking with Jason Montoya this morning, I’ve decided to challenge a few friends, and a hoard of acquaintances and strangers to blog along with me every weekday for the month of September.

My goal for this would be to directly affect and accelerate the personal development and growth of my colleagues by prompting them with specific thought-provoking questions. By generating content in blog form and posting it on a daily basis we would not only be able to speak into the minds of others on that topic but also clarify for ourselves what we think, feel, and believe about that step in our personal journey.

The challenge will be specifically to write 400 or more words every weekday on a specified topic. Each participant would post this entry on their personal blog, business blog, or medium.com. We would all link back to a Facebook page so that everyone can cross reference and read about the successes and learning moments of others on that same topic.

I will be developing the list of prompts over the next few days but if you would like to jump on board this challenge sight unseen just post a comment down below or email me at jim.karwisch@gmail.com.

If you would like to be a part of creating the prompt list for the blog entries let me know that as well.

I look forward to blogging with you!

It is 8:00 AM and you open up your laptop to check your email. There is still no response from your friend who you wrote two days ago. That’s strange, you think.  This friend always replies back right away. This is when you start to think that maybe something is wrong. Is everything ok? Has there been an accident? Or maybe it was something I said when we were on the phone together last week. Or maybe it was the email itself? You go back and read the email again. Perhaps it was the second paragraph. I thought when I wrote it that it might be too aggressive. Yeah, that’s it. That’s why I haven’t received a response.

Three days go by and the story that you have begun to tell yourself about how unhappy your friend and colleague is with you has reached new heights. You decided that your friend is angry and that this situation may be unreconcilable. You decide to pick up the phone and call but it goes straight to voicemail, of course. So do your next two calls.

You’ll obsess over the weekend about what you should do next. You just can’t imagine what caused this strong reaction.

It is now Monday morning. You open up your email at 8 o’clock to start your day. There in your inbox is the message from your friend which reads, “I am home from vacation! I had a great week unplugged and off the grid! Can’t wait to talk to you soon and catch up.”

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? How often do we interpret the silence of others? So frequently we attribute meaning, and even a fully fleshed story, to a complete absence of information.

Perhaps this scenario seems a little paranoid to you. Let’s change the concept just slightly. In the email, we said something as a joke but upon rereading it we see it was something that could be read as offensive by your friend. Now the silence begins. No answers and phone calls go to voicemail. Seem any more plausible?

When we interpret silence by giving a story where there is no story we open up our imagination to something that becomes quite dangerous.

Recently, when talking to a friend, I heard about someone he dated who, if he didn’t respond to a text for five minutes, began to text again and again within seconds; each successive one rapidly filling up the text message inbox. He felt like he couldn’t be away from his phone even for a few minutes. Sure, this might stem from additional issues and insecurities but at a base level it is the silence that is being given the meaning.

What if we agreed that silence has no meaning. If the person’s body language seems fine and there is no issue that you know of, then the silence means nothing. Not when we are eating dinner. Not when we are driving in the car. Silence is just silence.

Body language is communication. Words are communication. Stern looks are communication. Silence on the other hand, is literally… nothing.

As humans, we often come equipped with a handful of paralyzing fears, many of which seem to contradict our personalities, interests or occupations. Today I have put together my FIVE biggest fears in hopes that they might make others realize they are in good company when it comes to irrational phobias.

The stories below are told as I remember them, not necessarily as they actually happened.

5.) Ocean creatures

Specifically, the kind of creatures that like to be underfoot when someone is walking in the ocean.

When I was about 12 years old I went with my family to visit my uncle, aunt, and cousins in Florida. I was so anxious about going into the water that I brought with me an old pair of tennis shoes to wear into the water. Nowadays there are water shoes you can wear but I had decided to invent my own. The morning of our beach visit as we were putting on our swim trunks I grabbed my shoes from the porch and hid them in my towel. Upon arrival at the beach slipped them onto my feet with no socks and made my way down to the water. I was so anxious about the situation that I didn’t notice that something was pretty off about the shoes. They were several sizes too big for me. They weren’t even my shoes. These were my uncle’s shoes. My uncle’s brand new tennis shoes of the same brand and style as my old pair. My uncle was so angry with me that his face went that crazy shade of beet red that they show in cartoons. Thankfully my parents were there to try to sort it all out.

4.) Syringes

Specifically, the pokey pokey sharp end that pokes.

When I was about 8 years old I went with my mom to the doctor’s office for my yearly checkup. The nurse was an old school nurse who didn’t have time for kids and their hijinks or bellyaching. This nurse had no issue showing me the hypodermic needle as she filled it with an evil serum. She kept making gestures that drew my eyes to the needle as she prepared to stick it in my posterior. I talked nervously to her about how I was fine until all of a sudden I wasn’t fine anymore. I had a vasovagal reaction and passed out head first towards the floor. Nowadays when I get anything done I make sure the nurse knows what is possibly going to happen and I make sure never to look right at the needle.

3.) Royally messing something up beyond my ability to repair

Specifically, an expensive and time-consuming failure involving a car engine, plumbing, or electrical work.

As a kid I loved to see how things worked. I would take things apart, study how they worked and then completely fail to get them back together and working again. I had a cousin that was extremely mechanically inclined and a grandfather that could take a tank apart and put it back together again as a lawnmower with no extra pieces. I just didn’t have the mind for it. For some reason or another, I was given lots of opportunities to “try again” on fixing things that were broken. These opportunities almost always led to me showing how badly I could ruin whatever it was I was working on. These days I still have trouble getting myself up to the challenge of fixing something that is broken without breaking out into a cold sweat.

2.) Crowds

Specifically, crowds that have a lot of people in them.

This one makes little to no sense to most people. Because I am an actor, a speaker, and an improviser, and I flourish in front of an audience they think that I should have the same rush when I am in an unorganized crowd of people. In my mind, audiences are good and crowds are monstrous evil masses of evil monsters. If I have a job to do at a function featuring a large crowd I can keep things under control.  If I have no job and no prior knowledge of the group, I can get pretty shaken up after about ten minutes or so. Luckily for me, I usually have a job to do in those situations or I know a few people that I can break off with and minimize the stress.

1.) Missing the cues of a desperate friend in need

Specifically, friends who are close to ending their own life 

When I was in college I had a friend try to commit suicide in the dorm bathrooms. Luckily we found him, got him to the hospital and he lived. Afterward, we went to visit him where he was resting and healing up and we found that he was behind a series of locked doors. The explained what had happened and what signs we might notice if something like this was ever a possibility again in the future. I am normally so sensitive to these types of strong emotions in others that it really bothered me that I was not able to see what was happening to him. Nowadays it creeps back into my mind that there may be someone close to me that is putting on a smile and a brave face but is really having a terrible time inside and thinking about ending it all. I try to make sure my friends know that if they ever feel that way that I am there for them and they always have someone to talk to.

You always have someone to talk to. If you start thinking those kinds of thoughts call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You are never alone.


Photo by Derek Owens on Unsplash