Humor Being to the Rescue | The importance of Humor in Business and in Life
The first time I can recall my sense of humor having a dramatic effect on my life was when I was in the third grade. I was performing in the play “Alice in Wonderland.” No, I wasn’t Alice. I was Humpty Dumpty. You know, the egghead who was damaged irreparably when he found out he didn’t have Worker’s Compensation. It was opening night and the auditorium was packed with parents, teachers, students and their families. I could see the rows of expectant faces, peering out from the wings of the stage. That’s a lot of pressure for a third grader. The time for my scene came in the blink of an eye. There I was, sitting on the wall in my egg costume. Everything was going fine until my line, “I’m one who has spoken to a king, I am!” Well, I guess I said it with just a little too much enthusiasm because I lost my balance and fell over the back side of the wall. All the audience could hear was a giant thud! I didn’t get hurt. (Not physically, anyway.) But I remember how humiliated I felt waiting behind that wall for the house to realize that falling wasn’t a part of the act just yet. All I could think of was that I messed up big time. I was going to be the laughing stock of the entire school. I thought the rest of the cast would berate me for ruining the play. “And how,” I wondered, “could I ever face my parents?” I wanted to run off the stage and hide, but I was frozen by fear, crouching behind the wall, an egg with egg on his face.
While the negative thoughts were running rampant in my mind, the teacher in charge was running up the steps from the first row and calling out “Steven, are you OK?” It was instinct to rely on the ability that had gotten me out of bad situations before: humor. Without missing a beat I yelled out as loud as I could, “Yeah! But I think I cracked my shell. I hope Alice doesn’t mind scrambled eggs!” To my young surprise, the entire audience exploded with laughter. Hearing the laughter, I slowly stuck my head above the wall to check out what was going on. As soon as they saw my big egg head, the laughter turned into cheers and everyone in that auditorium, including the cast, was standing and chanting, “Hump-ty! Hump-ty!” Because scrambled eggs just aren’t as good without a little ham, I jumped on top of the wall and proceeded to take many exaggerated bows. The teacher was begging me to please sit down before I fell off again, but I couldn’t help myself. I was totally blown away by the reaction and attention I was getting. The cheers and the laughter grew louder as I took one final bow. Eventually I sat down and the play continued, and was a huge success. What happened that night that allowed me to shift from embarrassing failure to incredible success? My Humor Being came to the rescue.
In a matter of seconds there was a major shift in perspective. Just by blurting out the first obvious joke that came to my mind, I went from a klutz to a hero. An emotional transformation took place. The situation went from the most humiliating experience in my young life, to becoming the star of the show. And I’m not exaggerating when I say “star.” When the play was over, I was actually signing autographs. Now that’s what I call, getting my shift together!
Every time I look back on this significant incident in my life I am reminded of how important it is to be in control of my emotions in business and in life and how laughter can help me take that control. Why? Because in addition to signaling to yourself that your problem is laughable, you’ve also stopped the rampage of negative thinking. You’ve calmed your nervous system down to the point where you can shift your thoughts and think clearly, reassess the situation, bounce back and take control. That night as Humpty Dumpty, when I joined in with the laughter of the audience, I felt instant relief. I regained my confidence, took control and bounced right back up onto that wall.