Thursday, December 05, 2013

What I learned from Eddie Izzard

I've mentioned many, many, many times that Eddie Izzard is an inspiration and a role model to me.  I've previously described it as he made me brave, insofar as I am brave, but that doesn't articulate it as well as I'd like.

Then I found the perfect articulation in this article about the Setlist Show:
BR: Another one is Eddie Izzard who we work with a lot; he's a friend. We approached him a long time ago about doing the show, and he kept saying that he just didn't work that way. But then we were doing the Altitude Festival in Austria, and he gave in and did the show...

PP: Half way through his set he just turned to the audience and went, "This is f***ing hard!" and then went back into the set. He just owned the moment. He stepped outside it for a second, but that just gave him what he needed to go back in in an even richer way.

This absolutely encapsulates what I've learned from Eddie Izzard.  Own it.  Whatever the "it" of the moment is, own it. That's what he does when he goes on stage in clothes of any or all genders.  That's what he does when he messes up or gets knocked off track.  And that's what I did the first time I had to supervise a practicum student and had never had a student intern before. "Congratulations, you're my first student! So if I'm going too fast or too slow, skipping over stuff you don't understand or belabouring the glaringly obvious, it's not intentional. Please do let me know and I'll adapt to your needs."  And that's what I did when I bought my condo. "I've never bought real estate before and I'm mildly terrified.  Please answer my giant list of questions, and then I'll probably come back in a few days with another giant list of questions, and then once all my questions are answered I'll stop being terrified and cheerfully hand over all my money."  And that's the basis of my policy of making it clear how confident I am or am not in any statement I make.

It's given me a massive improvement in confidence, credibility, and quality of life.  I'm able to have more pleasant interpersonal interactions and get what I want more often simply by owning whatever is making me feel awkward or nervous or uncomfortable than by being a poseur pretending to be confident in the way that I imagine the people in the situation expect me to.

1 comment:

laura k said...

I love this!! I love it for so many reasons, from every angle. And part of why I love it is that it's exactly what I do and what I often recommend to others.

When I first did public speaking, I'd say, "Bear with me, I'm a little nervous speaking in front of you all...".

When I first taught a class - actually for my first many classes - I told the students right upfront that I was a total newbie and we were going to figure out this class together. And etc.

I found this so helpful and de-fusing, that I wanted to model it for other people, and I would recommend it to others in similar situations.

And not only does it help defuse so much of my own nervousness, it buids trust and empathy between speaker and audience, or teacher and class. It's bonding.

I think of it as transparency, as being an open book, or "extra honest".

Yay Eddie, yay Imp.