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Showing posts from 2012

Quick-change: improvisation key to coping with complexity

"Coping with the complexity of today’s business environment is not about predicting the future or reducing risk. It’s about building the capacity, in yourself, your people, and the organization to adapt continuously and learn speedily, in order to maximize the chances of seizing fleeting opportunities." Ivey Business Journal
     During its long Off-Broadway run, I saw The 39 Steps - in which 4 actors play multiple roles within the same scene and sometimes in the same sentence - three times. My fascination with improvisation is part of the reason, and the actors' ability to balance slapstick comedy with communication of important details about a complex spy story based on an early Alfred Hitchcock film is another. The cast displayed a seemingly infinite capacity to switch gears - and hats and identities, including accents - with split-second timing, and to use the same objects in a thousand different ways. Using a few set pieces -e.g. chairs, boxes, flashlights - a…

Peace Is A Way Of Thinking

Peace is a mindset, a way of thinking about relationships that is about collaboration rather than competition. It is something we must offer to the world rather than hope for the world to offer it to us. This can be a challenge, because people hurt, disappoint, even destroy us in various ways all the time. We can be deeply wounded by life and abandoned by everyone who should care, and it is still possible to be a person who creates peace. Some ideas:             One of the most powerful tools a therapist trained in action methods learns is role-reversal - the act of taking on another person's reality as best we can. To put this into action, we have to get up out of our own space, sit or stand someplace else in the room, and take on the physical posture and attitude of the person with whom we are reversing roles. We say their words. We say the person's own words, with the same cadences and emphasis they use. Through a combination of imagination and improvisation we explore as b…

Ascended Experience: The Legacy Of An Open Heart

There are second acts in life, if we create them. The memorial service for Christopher Stamp, a colleague in psychodrama and the healing arts, at The Old Whaling Church in Sag Harbor, NY featured a fascinating mix of the players and stories that made up his astonishing life. There was rock and roll royalty – Roger Daltry was one of the speakers, just to give an example – talking about Chris' early career as co-manager of The Who. There were therapy clients who spoke about his passion for the work of recovery and colleagues whose lives were changed by their work with Chris in the great second act he wrote for his life, as a therapist and addiction counselor. There was powerful music. Kids – beautiful kids with beautiful British accents – reading poems to honor their grandfather. Stories.     The Who’s music, which shaped my adolescence and college years and therefore shaped who I am is part of my consciousness and that happened because of Chris’ desire to do what no one else …

What We Owe Our Veterans and Military Men & Women

Hoboken is largely underwater and lower Manhattan is dark as I write this in my also dark, cold, unelectrified house. I am developing a new appreciation for my fireplace, which is giving me warmth, a kind of comfort and hot coffee as the power outage stretches into day 4 and counting. My neighbor John who I've known since he was young kid, brings me firewood because I did not stock up. Here on Long Island, there are people dealing with much worse and I feel blessed just to have my home and family alive and safe, my house intact. People in Staten Island and elsewhere are devastated. And while most of us are riding this out taking care of ourselves, the National Guard is out there taking care of everybody they can reach. The Guard is rescuing the hard-to-rescue and bringing supplies to the isolated. This is the U.S. military, the men and women who move when the rest of us cannot and always do it in the spirit of service.
"There is no one that is not connected to the military…

What We Owe Our Veterans and Active Military

Hoboken is largely underwater and lower Manhattan is dark as I write this in my also dark, cold, unelectrified house. I am developing a new appreciation for my fireplace, which is giving me warmth, a kind of comfort and hot coffee as the power outage stretches into day 4 and counting. My neighbor John who I've known since he was young kid, brings me firewood because I did not stock up. Here on Long Island, there are people dealing with much worse and I feel blessed just to have my home and family alive and safe, my house intact. People in Staten Island and elsewhere are devastated. And while most of us are riding this out taking care of ourselves, the National Guard is out there taking care of everybody they can reach. The Guard is rescuing the hard-to-rescue and bringing supplies to the isolated. This is the U.S. military, the men and women who move when the rest of us cannot and always do it in the spirit of service.
    "There is no one that is not connected to the mi…

When Markets Change, Change Your Marketability: Trainer and Therapist Jean Campbell Shows Us How It's Done

Jean Campbell, LCSW, CET II, TEP presents "Me Pluribus Unum" sponsored by TEDx


     Change is disruptive. It unseats the familiar, and can easily trigger a sense of psychological threat that sets off the stress response, shutting down our cognitive capacities to think things through and make reasoned judgments. Two super-charged realities of 21st century life - globalization and rapid advances in technology –connect us to complex systems we neither understand nor control. For anyone old enough to remember rotary phones, 8-track tapes and the meaning of “don’t touch that dial” the economic shifts that result from technological disruption are a mix of interesting surprises and nasty shocks. In the pre-remote-control, pre-Skype, computers-are-for-scientists, things-actually-take-time era, the comfort, convenience, and control today’s technology provides is remarkable and welcome.At the same time, we may experience severe and random upsets as we discover how difficult it can be t…

The Empty Chair: It's Not Actually Empty

Sometimes an empty chair is just an empty chair. And sometimes it is a prop that takes center-stage in the national political spotlight. When Clint Eastwood spoke to an empty chair representing President Obama onstage at the Republican National Convention last week, he gave important press to one of the cornerstones of effective conflict resolution, from personal relationships to work teams to political parties to entire nations. In the New York Times Opinion piece "What The Chair Could Have Told Clint" Jonathan Moreno - a professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania - shares some insights into the possibilities missed in Clint's interaction with the imaginary Obama.
"When Mr. Eastwood set up a chair next to the podium and used it in an imaginary dialogue with the president, I recognized it as a technique from psychodrama — the psychotherapy my father, the psychiatrist J. L. Moreno, started developing nearly 100 years ago,"…

Shift Your Inner Landscape Through Mindfuless Based Stress Reduction:

"The only peace we find at the top of mountains" goes an an old Zen saying, "is the peace we brought up there with us." And yet we tend to search outside ourselves - and outside our daily existence - for inner quiet we hope will clear emotional fog and calm turbulent thoughts that seem unavoidable. The trick is to develop a mind-and-skill set that helps us reframe life’s dilemmas, disappointments, and difficulties as creative choices – by working on them the same, focused way we learn technique in piano or dance or painting. By learning the techniques in a gradual and relaxed way when the pressure is off so they are ready to roll when the pressure is on. The fact that we can rethink our old, automatic mental habits, create new roles and change our minds through new learning for the entire length of our lives - the scientific term is “neuro-plasticity – really is good news, especially in these times of accelerated change and increasing complexity.
 Some effort and …

Five Reasons To Attend a Fringe Festival

"The arts are not a way of making a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable." Kurt Vonnegut.
The New York Fringe Festivalopens today, bringing more than 200 performing companies and 1600 performances to local venues. Affordable tickets to interesting and innovative work is just one reason to support this fringe or one of the others soon to open in cities across the country. Here are some more:
They foster independent artists;
They stimulate economic growth - restuarants, hotels, the travel industry and every small business in the neighborhood of a fringe event benefit with new customers and opportunities for promotion;

They support the creative community;

The promote under-developed neighborhoods;

By making performing arts visible, available and affordable, the festival supports local arts year-round. Full disclosure: I will be performing CrAzYToWn: my first psychopath in two upcoming Fringe festivals and am already realizing the benefits not only…

Improvisation: creative thinking for complex problems

This Power Point was created for a staff development training workshop series at a large not-for-profit on Long Island that is going through massive internal re-organization. Research in business, neuroscience and 21st century learning models explain why we need to focus training efforts on real-time development of skills in creative thinking, connecting to others through effective communication and collaboration. Change is perceived as a psychological threat, and these methods foster the emotional intelligence, group coherence and lateral thinking skills that help individuals connect with one another when external structures become fragmented, and engage with the tensions of change in creative ways.  



Read and download the entire Power Point presentation on Slideshare


Created and facilitated by Jude Treder-Wolff, a writer/performer, trainer and singer/songwriter. Her show Crazytown: my first psychopath will be featured at the Chicago and San Francisco Fringe Festivals. Click here for …

Steve Jobs In The Consulting Room: Disrupt Yourself

The solution to the innovator’s dilemma is "discovery-driven planning: learn by doing and make real-time adjustments in strategy and planning." Put another way: use the principles of improvisation – and the philosophy of Steve Jobs - to design one’s life: focus more on creating and contributing than on self-interest,          and the personal gains will follow.
  by Jude Treder-Wolff, LCSW, RMT, CGP
One of Steve Jobs’ favorite books was Clay Christiansen’s The Innovators’ Dilemma, about the problems faced by successful companies whose products play an important and established role in the market – and therefore in society. Stick with what Christiansen calls “sustaining technologies” - the established, familiar, and proven - and risk being rendered obsolete when a “disruptive technology” – game-changing, transformative, revolutionizing – comes along. Steve Jobs took the disruptive road one further than anyone else. He disrupted his own company, his own inventions. If an innovatio…

The Power of Story: How Independent Filmmaker A.D. Pearson Stays In The Game

by Jude Treder-Wolff, LCSW, RMT, CGP
      "Great stories happen," according to This American Life's Ira Glass, "to those who can tell them," which seems especially true in the storytelling form of documentary film. To record real-life events in real time, and neither predict nor control the end game requires a unique combination of vision and willingness to risk. Independent filmmaker A.D. Pearson, whose documentary Running Through: The Jordan Culbreath Story will be shown as part of the VisionFestfilm festival at the Tribeca Cinemas on Thursday June 21, views the documentary form as a kind of offering to the subject, an opportunity to "frame someone's story. You owe it to them to tell their story the right way. I like that challenge, to surprise them by showing how they might be seen through outside eyes." Despite the various and often unpredictable problems that arise, he loves the personal autonomy of this work. "Filmmaking is a tru…