Join Izzy Gesell for an in-depth discussion in this video Self-talk, part of Leading with Applied Improv.
- A couple of years ago I was on a small plane that was going through a lot of turbulence, and at that point in my life I was really afraid of flying so I was really nervous. Technically that's not true. Flying was fine. Crashing is what I feared, right? People aren't actually afraid of flying, they're afraid of going down. I'm going on this roller coaster and every time the plane hits a bump I go (low scream) and when the plane smooths out I relax. I happen to look across the aisle there. Sitting next to his mother was a boy who could have not been more than five, and don't you know that every time the plane hit a bump and I went (low scream) this kid would go, what do you think? "Weeeeeee!" Exactly! Shown up by the five-year-old, and when the plane smooth out I'd relax, the kid would get upset.
I remember he once looked at the ceiling, because that's where the voice had come from, and he went, "Hey, do it again." and I'm looking at this kid, and I have one of those moments where I understand very clearly how life worked. I had an insight about my stress and how I was trying to cope with it. The metaphor was I was coping with my stress in my life by trying to change the outside world, trying to calm the outside world down so I could become inside. But the boy and myself were being given exactly the same information. The data coming into us was exactly the same, yet our responses were completely different.
I'm trying to figure out why are our responses different when we have the same data, and what I realized was that our self-talk was different. The things we said to ourselves was different, and that's what contributed to the different impact. So what the boy and myself were understanding was that self-talk drives our behavior. Self-talk is defined as that ongoing dialogue we have with ourselves that determines our worldview. How many of you talk to yourselves? Some people raised their hands, others go, "Do I or don't I? I don't know.
(audience laughs) "Maybe. I don't think so. I used to..." We do it all the time and what we say to ourselves determines what we believe, and what we believe drives what we do. What we're going to look at today is how applied improv principles, essentially the principles that improv theater people learn, can apply to our leadership life, and learn that the first step in changing from "can't do" to "can do" is looking at our self-talk.
The impact is strong. A self-talk affects mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual areas. Mentally the boy and myself were different in that I'm thinking it's scary, he's thinking it's fun. Physically, I'm tense and tight, he's loose and relaxed. Emotionally, I'm dealing with fear, he's connected to joy and happiness. Spiritually, I have faith in nothing, not even aerodynamics and this boy's at one with the universe.