Man up, Funnyman. (You too, Funnywoman.)

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There’s a lot of testosterone on the jobsite.

And there’s always plenty of stress.

This can be an explosive combination.

 

This is why humor can be so beneficial. It takes the edge off. It helps keep the big picture in focus. Taking yourself too seriously rarely benefits the overall performance of a project.

 

Unlike children who have yet to learn to be too serious, adults often have trouble practicing new skills – like Safety Spanish, for example – because there is a fear of failure. We struggle with putting ourselves in a position to bomb. We don’t want to risk It – whatever It is.

 

We take ourselves too seriously.

 

To overcome this seriosity complex, who better to guide us than Lorne Michaels, creator of Saturday Night Live? He’s been developing a new show 20+ times a year – on a 6-day schedule, no less – since 1975.

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Some SNL skits are rough. You wonder how the sketch made it out of rehearsal (drugs, presumably). Others become instant pop culture classics.

 

 

Whether standing on the SNL stage or standing on a bunk of drywall starting a Toolbox Talk – it’s a performance.

It takes guts.

 

Here’s some advice from Lorne, courtesy of a recent Harvard Business Review Q&A.

What’s the secret to being creative on a deadline?

Knowing the deadline is real. That focuses people’s thinking. We don’t go on because we’re ready. We go on because it’s 11:30. There’s no getting out of it.

 

SNL can be hit-or-miss. How do you and the cast learn from your success and your mistakes?

I think Malcolm Gladwell’s point about the 10,000 hours of practice is valid. It’s in no way natural to be performing at 11:30 on a Saturday night in a skyscraper in Rockefeller Center, so to get comfortable takes just doing it. 

Sometimes you blow a line, or that thing you are completely confident about falls apart. There’s no blaming the marketing campaign. You just weren’t good. They didn’t laugh. It was a big moment and you weren’t there for it. And it’s really hard to deal with, but you go through it, and you learn, and you do it again next week. That’s the resilience of the show and these people. You endure it and you slowly but surely get better. 

Sometimes the clock runs out for people, but most of the time we stick with them until that moment when they’re just flying – owning the stage, lighting it up, and knowing that the audience is with them.        

 

I love this line:

We don’t go on because we’re ready. We go on because it’s 11:30.

Red Angle participants frequently say, “No estoy listo.” I’m not ready.

 

They need a few more weeks… then they’ll go live.

Then they’ll actually speak Spanish to an actual Spanish-speaker.

My response: “You’ll never be 100% ready. Man up. Speak what you know. You’re guaranteed to learn regardless.

 

And this stanza says it all:

It was a big moment and you weren’t there for it. And it’s really hard to deal with, but you go through it, and you learn, and you do it again next week. That’s the resilience of the show and these people. You endure it and you slowly but surely get better.

 

Resilience.

Endurance.

 

You get through it and you live to try another day – better.

 

Trying to learn Spanish to improve Safety on the jobsite?  

Trying to learn Spanish to lead co-workers more effectively?

Trying to learn Spanish to sell more to Latino customers?

 

Lots of people are.

Most won’t be resilient enough.

Most won’t endure long enough.

 

Unlike SNL, you can choose yourself long-term.

The clock will never run out.

The question is simply, “Will you stop getting on stage?” 

 

 

 

Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry.    

If you enjoyed this post and would be interested in other related content, subscribe to our monthly Newsletter – the Red Angle Revista. Once a month, no fluff, no sales pitches. Just ideas and language skills to help you run a better job.

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