On Neil Patrick Harris’ Humour at the Oscars

As I watch the Oscars, with the inimitable Neil Patrick Harris hosting, I can’t help but wonder about the power of humour to both build up and break down a thing or person. While I can’t help but chuckle at NPH’s digs on the performances that didn’t quite impress over the past year, I also wonder if he is stepping on too many toes.

NPH’s ability to balance his jokes at the expense of other people with other types of humour, including self-deprecating humour, makes him an ultimately lovable person despite the icy reception of some of his jokes on Oscar night. I think that’s the key though, NPH doesn’t just criticize others, he also puts himself in vulnerable positions and is open to critique on a regular basis.

He certainly runs the risk of losing some friends in Hollywood if he pushes too far tonight, but also makes it very clear what his opinions and his priorities are by making jokes such as these, which allows him to be a leader in the artistic community. That’s the beauty of humour, those who make jokes are taking a huge risk every time they open their mouths to share something they think is funny. Each joke is a hugely vulnerable moment of revelation in which you can be harshly judged or happily embraced.

It is easy to follow someone that would lead with such transparency, especially given NPH’s wonderful reputation even outside of his acting and humour. If he did not have this reputation, it might be a little harder to accept the harsh jokes of his Oscar performance, but he has set himself up to be well-received by showing a great deal of integrity in his art and in the parts of his life that are open to the public eye.

If you are the type of person that is always ready with a great joke, just make sure you’re striking the same lovable balance and great reputation that Neil Patrick Harris has managed to achieve.

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On “Divine Discontent”

“[D]ivine discontent: How can you make something better? I think entrepreneurship and invention are pretty closely coupled. And inventors are always walking around the world thinking, ‘I’m kind of inured to this, but just because I’m used to it doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.'” ~ Jeff Besos (January/February 2015 Foreign Affairs)

I have always had this, what I always assumed was strange, desire to improve the things and people around me, and most of all, a desire to improve myself. I have given people the impression that I am displeased or that they are somehow not good enough for me, repeatedly. I have worked actively to change that impression, and those who get to know me seem to understand my intent well enough, but those who are new to me tend to be put off by this tendency.

Jeff Besos, in his recent Foreign Affairs interview has given me a name for that perpetual desire to make things better: Divine Discontent.  Continue reading

On Having Fun and Keeping their Attention

leaves-smallIn order to lead effectively, you need the engagement and genuine interest of your people. It is your responsibility to warrant their full attention, it is not their responsibility to give it to you just because you sit at the head of the table.

I realized recently that I had become lazy in my training techniques and in life. Probably not in the way most people mean when they talk about being lazy, but lazy nonetheless. You see, when I am low on energy or stressed, I tend to fall back on working really hard until I push through a thing. I stop being able to see the merit of breaks or of having fun until I arrive on the other side of the stress I’m experiencing.It takes active effort for me not to fall into this pattern, and the lazy option is to just give into it, to give up my relaxation and fun until I get through it. Of course, I don’t learn nearly as much from the experiences I have when I’m in this mindset, and what I do learn, I often forget a week or two later. Continue reading