Posted by Don Packett under Business
on July 13 2009 at 11:51 AM
Tattoos and stand-up comedy. These are primarily the two biggest conversations I have with people nowadays on a personal level.
What comes up more often than not are people’s longing to either do comedy or get a tattoo, but they just never had the guts to go through with it, almost always blaming the ‘too scared to get on stage’, or the ‘permanence’ or ‘soon-to-be-boredom’ with tattoos. It’s like a broken record.
I’ve been creating and writing comedy for as long as I can remember. I was fortunate enough to have a group of friends, including my family, who could see humour in everything, which led me to begin writing things down so that I could one day use it, either on stage, TV or in film.
A few years ago when I was doing video production I did some work with Riaad Moosa. On the last day of shooting, we were leaving the set and he shouted across the parking lot “Get on stage Don!”, after our earlier conversation about open comedy spots at Cool Runnings in Melville. It was an awesome thing to hear from someone like him. So I continued to write comedy, but never really considered getting on stage to actually use it.
Then last year we were invited to Missing Link for a talk by John Vlismas about creativity, and obviously used comedy as an example. One of the guys asked him how people can get into it and he mentioned the open spots on Sunday nights at Cool Runnings. At that stage of my life I needed something to occupy my mind and free time, so after the talk I asked John how to book a spot, and got the number. Three days later, while driving to a meeting, I phoned Whacked Management and booked myself a spot. I put the phone down and felt like vomiting. It was honestly one of the scariest things I had to do. Taking that first step was huge, but now it was done, and all I had to do was show up and perform.
Long story short, I performed my first gig (which very few people have seen) and even though I look back on it now and think it wasn’t even close to what I’d expect to be a good set, I walked off stage feeling like I’d wrestled a lion, and tamed the bastard. No-one can ever explain that feeling of total bliss. Too rad.
The thing is, the big step wasn’t actually getting on stage, it was taking that first step and getting booked in. Once I knew I had to do it, I knuckled down and made it happen. I wrote a set, I consulted friends, I perfected it so that I could deliver as effective a show as possible. Now I just can’t get enough.
This doesn’t only apply to comedy or getting a tattoo. What, in business, are you thinking about doing but are too scared to implement? Do you have an idea that could possibly help your business? The worst that can happen is you fail, but at least you can say you tried.
This post (although old, but definitely still relevant) explains how, while few CEOs are as candid about the potential for failure as Isdell, many are wrestling with the same problem, trying to get their organisations to cosy up to the risk-taking that innovation requires. “Everyone fears failure. But breakthroughs depend on it. The best companies embrace their mistakes and learn from them.”
It goes back to that saying “You always regret the things you didn’t do.” You’ll never know unless you’ve tried.
Just do it.