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At the Intersection of Joy and Fear

I have it posted over my desk. Here’s why:

It's where I want to live. It's where juicy things happen.

The intersection of Fear and Joy is what Seth Godin calls ‘‘Dancing with the Fear’’ It’s improv. It’s life.

This past Tuesday I led a workshop with 24 staff of our local Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (DVSAS). I invited them into some basic improv games. The first game is basically just simultaneous clapping around the circle, reversed, across the circle.

Facing the fear of interacting in this new way with colleagues connecting with them and being supported by them, allows joy to spontaneously emerge.

I always start with this Clap Circle game. And big smiles and laughter always emerges.

There is no joke being told. No humor. And yet laughter ensues. Why?

I believe it’s because of the eye contact, the connection, AND the facing of our fears and discovering that not only do we not fall apart, but we rather find ourselves supported.

Dancing with our fear involves finding dance partners.

Partners where in safe small containers (at first) we can grow the relational architecture of vulnerability-support, which leads to trust.

And then I don’t need control, or even to be right all the time, because I have a visceral experience of trust, a visceral experience that I belong.

It was a joy to see the latent joy of DVSAS staff emerge. When fear and joy come together, we become more resilient (which is a deep need for us in our time).

One staff person looked me in the eye at the end, and said with deep sincerity, "This is exactly what I needed today.’’

Together, they experienced facing fears, discovering connection, and joy and laughter. It begins to build a much-needed resource/asset for them that can be drawn upon in the difficult day in day out work they do.

Our fear may seem overwhelming if we are alone, and yet when we have an experience of ''being in this together'', our collective agency multiplies, and joy appears as fuel for the road ahead AND even to taste and savor in the moment.

Where can you step into fear with others and discover joy?


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I loved reading about your experience with the DVSAS. In a short piece, you've captured so much. It brought tears thinking about their positive experience, and made me wish that I had used improv at my work (now retired) to bring people together.

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