Imaginary Workouts

No I’m not talking about all those sit-ups I do in my brain while my tukhus is firmly planted on my couch next to the bag of chips and guac that will be my downfall.  Nor the half marathon I imagine myself completing with nary a bead of sweat on my face.  No I’m talking about exercising the imagination muscle.  When we were kids, we used to play all the time, engaging our imagination at every turn.  Like every Catholic schoolkid, we played communion and used pickle chips for the host.  Star Trek was a big game in my family and my communicator was my rosary case that my grandmother had brought back from being blessed by the Pope in Rome.  I’m pretty sure she’d have a heart attack if she ever found out what I was using it for and my lack of veneration for it.   Cowboys and Indians were popular as was War and then of course we have Barbie and her fabulous life.  My brother used to get really mad at me for making GI Joe take Barbie out on a date but he had a car, Ken didn’t.  It may have been a Jeep that shot missiles my Mom promptly took away so we didn’t shoot our eyes out, but it was a car nonetheless and that trumps everything in the dating world.

I was reminded of playing pretend when I attended the Dan O’Day International Radio Creative and Production Summit last weekend in Los Angeles.  Dan always puts together a great weekend of really talented people and this year was no exception.  Richard Horvitz was leading a session on increasing your business by learning to play.  Using your imagination to flesh out who you were, where you were and what you wanted in the story.  He didn’t call it a script but a story.  That was an important shift right out of the box.  All scripts are stories, even the worst screaming/auto/retail script ever written, you just have to find it.  Once you find the story, you have to imagine who you are, where you are and what you want in the story.  You have to play pretend. Be willing to enter a second reality.  Kids do it so easily but once you grow into adulthood, out goes the imagination.  Like a muscle that’s been allowed to atrophy from nonuse, our ability to tap into our imagination gets harder and harder.  It takes practice to find it with ease.  Playing with kids is one way to do it.  But another is imagining what you’re not and then making it so.  Like saying I’m not blond, but I’m going to pretend I’m blond.  Going to the second reality again and again so it becomes easier each time.

Imagining I’ve got a flat stomach isn’t going to make it happen but seeing myself with that flat stomach makes the sit-ups easier to do.  So too will becoming that person in the story.  Now if I could just imagine my way to Warren Buffet’s fortune.

Stupid Tax

One of the shows I used to catch every once in a while was The Dave Ramsey Show on the Fox Business Network.  Dave is a financial guru who helps people get out of debt and stay out of debt.  I’ve read a few of his books and was saddened to see that FBN cancelled the program a few weeks back.  He had a great way of putting things that were no-nonsense and full of common sense tips to help one and all get their financial houses in order.  He was ardently opposed to credit cards and their use as a tool for cash flow.  He called the interest they charged a “stupid tax”.  This just made me giggle.  He applied the term to several other areas of finances, basically saying that to use or lose your money for silly and unnecessary reasons was just plain stupid.

I think the phrase can be extended to other areas of life and not just financially.  And I have a perfect example of how I paid the stupid tax the other day when traveling.  Let’s just start with the premise that traveling these days includes a certain amount of hassle, annoyances and endless supplies of patience.  The days of travel being a pleasant and luxurious pastime are long gone-alas!  Anywho, I was going to LA for a voiceover conference and had booked the first flight out so I could be in LA early enough to do a little sightseeing.  I wanted to do an official studio tour as I’d been on a lot but wanted to hear the history of studio.  So I was going to take the Paramount tour at noon LA time.  I get to the airport at 545am in plenty of time for my 735am flight and I’ve already printed my boarding pass.  No problem right?  Well for some reason I decide at the last minute to go to the bathroom and then oooo, wouldn’t a banana be good for the flight?  So I toodle down the concourse in search of a banana.  As I return to the gate, I notice the door is closed so I wait outside as the gate agents sometimes step away to take care of some business.  Someone finally showed up and asked if they could help me.  I said “I’m on this flight” and hand her my boarding pass.  “I’m sorry, the flight is closed”.  “But there’s 10 minutes until you leave, they plane’s still right there”  “But the flight is full”  wherein we got to the root of issue.  They’d given away my seat and they’d have to compensate someone in order to honor my seat.  So instead I paid the stupid tax of having to wait for the next flight and potentially missing my tour.

Fortunately I made the tour but the entire episode highlighted for me some of the ways that I short change my career and my life by paying this tax that I don’t need to pay.  Sure getting a banana was innocent enough but the result of my loss of focus could have been a lot worse than it was.  Staying focused is very important and not letting myself get sidetracked.  If I don’t, I may end up holding a boarding pass going nowhere instead of continuing forward progress.