The Sandbox Blog
This is where I share studio notes and thoughts from behind the scenes here at Creative Sandbox Solutions™ HQ. I’m all about process here, and I’m transparent about mine, so you can learn from both my wins and my mistakes.
If you have any questions or comments, don’t be shy — drop me a line! I’d love to hear from you.
“Well, it’s been a long day. Let’s skip the debrief, because I know everyone’s tired. See you all next month!”
It had been a long day. As part of the leadership class I’m in, we’d:
- Heard from NASA scientists at NASA Ames HQ
- Gone inside the world’s largest wind tunnel
- Toured Astrobee Lab, where they design and build robots for the International Space Station
- Visited Future Flight Central, the 360-degree SimLabs that simulates an LAX air traffic control tower
- Learned about the Air National Guard 129th Rescue Wing, and touring their facilities
- Toured an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft and a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter — the actual vehicles that perform rescue missions!
I was in the middle of my talk, onstage in front of 200 people, and everything was going great. The audience was in the palm of my hands.
Then I clicked the remote to advance to the next slide, and what appeared instead was a blank screen with the words, “end of presentation.”
For split second my mind was as blank as the screen, before the spike of adrenaline hit my bloodstream.
I can still remember that feeling: “Yikes — now what?”
I can always tell when Maggie is multitasking when I call her.
It’s not just the clicking sound of the keyboard that gives her away. Her responses are out of sync. It’s clear she’s distracted.
On the days when she’s 100% present, I feel heard. On the other days, there’s a disconnect.
Honestly, it’s kind of uncomfortable.
I had COVID last week.
Thankfully, my symptoms were relatively mild — it felt like I had a bad cold (#gratitude scientists and vaccines!) — but it still threw my plans for a loop.
I basically spent the week in bed. My plans had to pivot.
It was a very visceral reminder that not only is COVID still with us, but nothing is certain.
Except death and taxes, of course.
“No,” I blurted, immediately wishing for a rewind button.
My co-facilitator had just given instructions, and I’d unintentionally blocked them, right in front of everyone—ugh! 😖
This isn’t the “yes, and” spirit I preach. Instead of embracing ideas, I rigidly clung to my version of how things should go, undermining my partner’s authority.
Despite a quick apology, my perfectionism flared up. The combo of perfectionism and a deep need for connection can be tough.
When I’m afraid I’ve damaged a relationship, I have to be careful not to whip myself raw.
Enter another improv principle: celebrate mistakes as gifts.
In improv, we celebrate mistakes with a “clown bow” to take the charge off and encourage risk-taking without fear.
This involves throwing your hands in the air and crying out “Ta-da!” with great enthusiasm.
Improv isn’t about being clever; it’s about being present and real. Acknowledging imperfections is key; it allows creativity to flow without self-criticism.
Mistakes, in life or improv, are gifts. They’re not always comedic gold, but they’re rich. Being perfect doesn’t connect us; being human and imperfect does.
And guess what? If you want a team that is empowered to take risks and navigate uncertainty, the more you can make space to celebrate mistakes as gifts, the more psychologically safe everyone will feel.
The best toolkit I’ve found for building those muscles? Improv.
Which is why it’s my toolkit of choice when working with leaders who want more adaptable, creative teams.
But these skillsets still take practice, and nobody’s perfect, as my recent gaffe shows!
Ta-da! Embracing my humanity along with everyone else.
Tech Leaders: Are you ready to harness the power of improv to help your team connect with powerful communication, so you can have more effective collaboration throughout and beyond your organization?
Book your complimentary Team Performance Assessment Call here.
“What with all the layoffs last year,” he said, “and the changes coming down the pipe, we really need people to be more adaptable.”
I was on a Zoom call with the Director of Global Brand Strategy for a Fortune 100 company.
My contact had initially reached out to me because he was interested in having me run a short LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® session during an offsite for their team of 60.
But when he mentioned focusing on adaptability, I pulled back the reins.
“There will be a contest with prizes,” said the flyer.
I almost crumpled it up and threw it away — that’s how strong my reaction was.
I had received the flyer in the mail for Trivial Pursuits, the one-day workshop that my calligraphy guild, the Friends of Calligraphy, organizes as its annual gift to the membership.
Trivial Pursuits is really a buffet of six different workshops, presented by member volunteers, that participants rotate to over the course of the day.
It’s always fun + sensory-overload, in equal measures.
“I’ve always dreamed of going to Istanbul.”
That’s how it all started.
Back in 2011, I replied to Kelly, a new subscriber to my mailing list, whose email signature said she was an American creativity coach living in Istanbul.
We struck up a conversation and discovered we shared the mutual dream of leading creativity workshops in exotic locations around the world.
“Why not do it together?” we mused.
I could tell right away from her expression over FaceTime that my sister-in-law was not calling with good news.
“I wanted to let y’all know that Uncle Richard passed—…” she started, before the connection cut out.
We lost the rest of her sentence, but my stomach clenched as I anticipated what must be coming.
And yes, when we finally got WiFi to work again, our fears were confirmed.
“I could never do what you do,” Rachel said. “But I really wish I could!”
We were chatting at a potluck on Saturday afternoon, after Rosh Hashanah services where I had been one of several song leaders, leading rounds from the elevated stage (or bimah) in the gym that was serving as our temporary sanctuary.*
In addition to leading rounds, the rabbi had recruited me to lead — and teach — a lively, new, call-and-response version of a traditional prayer.
I seem to have made quite an impact, because a number of people complimented me after services.
Rachel, though, went beyond just complimenting me.