Mastering Essential Magic
Clowning, not Cloning
“Anyone can make them cry, but it takes a genius to make them laugh.”
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I have always been fascinated with people who have the ability to stick to one thing for what seems like forever. How they find their One thing, align it with their Essence, and like a laser beam, cultivate extreme focus and the ability to cut out all distractions for certain periods and go deep. As Cal Newport calls it in his book: Deep Work.
Greg McKeown reminds us that Essentialism doesn’t mean cutting out the trivial, but often times saying no to what seems to be good opportunities. The question you need to ask is do they add to my vision, my One Thing, or are they distractions into working wide, staying on the surface and withholding me from becoming the master in my field.
Learning and Development is a highly creative space. We never know what we will learn, what our unique understanding might be and what the execution of that learning will look like. It’s a mystery. Like the Christmas stocking we are waiting to open in anticipation and peak into (jingle bells sound- track in the background.)
If we see this as an opportunity of trying to fit in and doing “as we think we are supposed to” we are not developing but cloning. That is why Artificial Intelligence is here. We don’t need more clones. We need what I will refer to as Clowns. Clowns for Creativity.
Our job as human beings is to be creative, to play, to discover, to see the nuances in the everyday, seemingly trivial tasks and how we can become the masters of our own essence in a way that can open how others see and experience the world.
̽Clowns are ancient, dating back to 2400 BC, being found in the Fifth dynasty of Egypt. That’s old. According to Peter Berger: “”It seems plausible that folly and fools, like religion and magic, meet some deeply rooted needs in human society.” Clowning is often crucial in the training of physical performance disciplines. Why? Clowns are supposedly funny and foolish, but what better character to make tricky subject matters and information practical, more digestible. Also for the person performing as the clown, it requires high levels of risk and play…two seemingly opposing actions. Taking risk while playing. Mmmm…does that perhaps spark some curiosity in you? It sure does in me.
“Taking risk while playing.”
To clown takes courage, to stand out of the crowd, to maybe be laughed at. Be vulnerable. But in the same vein sparking curiosity, awe, magic and adventure whilst facing and embracing the facts and reality of life.
To become a master of your unique essence is in fact clowning.
You need to put on the big shoes, take the risk of practicing again and again, in front of others, often times making a fool of yourself at first, failing, surprise by jumping out of the box, and embrace solitude during which you practice your magic, your essence, your one thing.
But once you reach your level of mastery, I promise you, the laughs around you will start sizzling out and faces will express awe, infatuation and feelings of being enticed by magic. And so Legendary is born.
Be the Clown, become the Master and leave a Legacy.
Deep Work, Cal Newport, 2016
The One Thing, Gary Keller:
Essentialism, Greg McKeown:
̽On the history of clowining