This question is brilliant! In the context of what Mike Myers was writing, he used it to demonstrate that his father had been one of the key influences in his choice to work in comedy. When I look at it from a coaching perspective, the brilliance comes from the words ‘how fast’.
When I was doing my certification in coaching we were taught to avoid starting questions with the word ‘how’. It was said that ‘How’ is the killer of dreams. This is because this word causes us to get stuck in the present and it asks our brain to come up with a complete series of foolproof steps to take to reach our goal. Often, we find this impossible and so we end up simply abandoning our idea. If Mr. Myers had asked “How can we make this funny?”, it is possible that this story would never have been retold. But by asking, “How fast can we make this funny?” he taught his children that they were definitely going to find a way to make it funny – the only decision they needed to make was to decide how fast to do it.
I call this ability, agility. Agility is the skill of dancing with what life gives us. The first few steps of the dance may be awkward and slightly off beat, but the more we practice agility, the more we become very polished dancers. And not surprising, as people watch us, they want to be our partners. They want to learn how not to get bogged down when they are dealt unexpected events.
I mentioned last week that we had been in Southern Ontario for a surprise party for our son Greg. Greg’s party came at an extremely busy time for him. He is in the last few months of coursework before a huge comprehensive exam in his PhD program. He had torn their kitchen apart and was in the midst of installing new cabinets, flooring etc. And yet, on Saturday evening, when he and Cara walked into the darkened restaurant where she had beautifully orchestrated the surprise, he handled it with incredible agility. Even when he was little I can remember a time when he was so excited about going to a friend’s birthday party on a Saturday morning. We got a phone call to say that the friend had come down with chicken pox and the party was cancelled. Most seven-year old’s, and most people in general, while understanding that this was no one’s fault, would have spent at least a bit of time feeling sorry for themselves. Within minutes, Greg said, ‘It’s too bad about the party but now I can work with Dad in the garage’. I recall being simply amazed at the way he was so quickly able to turn an unexpected disappointment into a gift. I did not have this kind of agility.
After our unexpected two day visit with Greg after his party he said, “I am so glad you were here. I had been feeling overwhelmed and you arrived at just the right time.” Incredible. We had been afraid that we would be taking him away from his work; he managed to turn it into a gift.
This past week, our daughter-in-law, Cara, came to stay with us in Calgary. She was attending a conference in the city and she tacked on a few days to be with us. On Friday, she mentioned to me that she had brought her camera and would be happy to film a few short segments for me for my website. Cara’s background is in journalism and now she does social media for businesses (www.ccsocial.ca). Months ago, she and I had talked about the possibility of her doing this but we had never set a time, or even a topic. This week she said that if I wanted to set up a ‘group coaching’ to film that she would love to film it for me. This was on Friday and I knew that I only had 2 days to make it happen. Normally, I would have panicked that I wouldn’t be able to get this together – after all, it was the weekend, I had not asked people to help, I did not have a topic – I’m betting that you can hear my saboteur just shouting at me here! I decided that I would silence my saboteur and practice some agility. I asked myself, “How fast can I make this happen?” I sent out a few emails and within hours I had a group of people who were very happy to help me out. I couldn’t have picked a better group if I had had two months’ notice. The coaching session and the filming went incredibly well and we even had a great time doing it! If I had allowed myself to become stuck in the “How can I make this happen?” instead of “How fast can I make this happen?”, I would have had a very different result.
This week, watch for opportunities to use your agility. Notice where you are getting yourself stuck or missing out on opportunities when you are asking yourself the question ‘How?’ Not all of us will want to use the line, “How fast can we make this funny?”, but we might be able to use, “How fast can I find the gift in this?”, or “How fast can I turn this around?” or “How fast can I be kind?” or “How fast can I turn this into something I am proud of?”
My inquiry for you this week is, “How fast can I be?”
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