Holy Fools’ Day: A Spark of Madness

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” ~Robin Williams  

Lately I’ve been wondering if I still, to a certain degree, live some of my life to satisfy others’ expectations. Of course I like to think that I stopped doing that years ago, but I suspect I still do it often without awareness.

Gail Larsen

The following is an excerpt from Gail Larsen, author  of   “Transformational Speaking”, a book that inspires even if you aren’t a public speaker.

This excerpt, about our tendencies to “tame our madness” and suppress our voices, resonated with me, particularly since I recently visited my 94 year old father, whom I hadn’t seen in approximately 40 years. I still found myself concerned about his expectations of who I was and who I became, and I wonder if he had similar thoughts.

Gail’s e-letter says:

Most of us tame our madness to fit into what other’s expect and never use our inherent spark to become the wildly unforgettable speakers and change artists that are needed in these times of shocking transformation.

How would your life be different if you didn’t care what others think?  I sometimes ask that question in my classes and when an astute participant responded, “What if I didn’t care what I think?”  I realized she was on to something.

So armed with both those questions, and assuming you could give up editing and rehearsing yourself around what others may think, or what you yourself may think just for a moment, how then might you express your spark of madness?  Would you be the first to speak rather than first feeling out whether your listeners would agree?

Would you launch a new movement using social media and organize your own demonstration against injustice or corporate domination or nuclear power?  Whatever you do, don’t get attached to the outcome. Just go for it.

I suggest you no longer try to lose or suppress your spark of madness and instead give it a voice on April 1 [popularly known as April Fool’s Day].  

This festive and often annoying holiday suggests we play tricks on others with a jovial spirit and once we’ve duped them to yell with delight, “April Fools!”

Comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell talked about the archetype of another kind of fool: the Holy Fool.

The Fool is the most dangerous person on earth, Campbell explained, the most threatening to all hierarchical institutions. He has no concern for naysayers, and no one has power over him (or her). She is not limited, not stoppable, nor controllable. She knows what she has to do and is doing it, no matter what.

I think of the Holy Fool as similar to the Court Jester, the only person in the Royal Court who dares to speak truth to the King without consequence.

Or the Koshari of the Hopi and Pueblo peoples of the Southwest, who in the midst of sacred ceremonies makes us laugh at ourselves by mimicking our behavior so we can see ourselves in a new way.  Their role is to create lessons at the expense of another’s seriousness, recognizing that laughter is a great shape shifter of old habits and patterns.

So here’s a suggestion. How about on April 1 we engage in a dialogue with our inner Holy Fool and Spark of Madness and ask what he/she most wants to express, convention be damned.

Ask where you are being duped day in and day out and not shining the light of your truth.

Let’s stop concealing our greatest passions and be willing to say what we love and what we know without editing and rehearsing ourselves into oblivion.  Let’s declare April 1 Holy Fools’ Day and engage the madly passionate part of us that has something important to say – and just say it.

Rumi said (paraphrased):     

I used to be like you.

Calm, rational, controlled.

Now I am seized by passion.

Watch out

No one’s safe!

Our world is changing, one voice at a time, and yours is needed. I’d love to hear what happens when you connect with your Holy Fool and say what is yours to say. Speaking your truth, especially when convention is expected, opens the door to your liberation.  You might just find you want to be a Holy Fool and reveal your spark of madness every day.

© Gail Larsen 2011

Reprinted from “Real Speaking Power Points” a free e-letter by Gail Larsen, author of Transformational Speaking.  To subscribe and receive occasional insights and ideas to enhance your public speaking and communications, go to http://www.realspeaking.net


Can you see how this is connected to your career choices and your leadership approach?

Happy Holy Fools’ Day to you all.

For more information about Terry Del Percio’s Career Transition Services, please visit http://www.workstrategies.com or call to schedule a free phone consultation at 978.282.8900


On Becoming a Job Search Machine

Redwood trees blow my mind. They are awe-inspiring. I have a particular affinity towards Redwoods, and although I have never stood in their presence, I am certain that doing so will be a spiritual awakening.

In National Geographic’s current issue, there is a fascinating article entitled REDWOODS: The Super Trees,  about the Redwood Forests in California.

In the article, Evan Smith, vice president of forestland for the Conservation Fund says,

Redwoods are what’s known in biology as a very plastic species. [They’re] like machines. Once you get [them] going, you can’t stop [them].

This made me think of how difficult the job search process has become in  modern times. (okay, so my mind works in funny ways)

With advances in technology and the social media explosion, one would think that it would be easier to make connections and to land jobs in this day and age. Um, uh, hmm, well no – I’m afraid that’s not the case.

It is indeed counter-intuitive, but on the contrary, job seeker’s must be incredibly diligent and relentless simply to gain an opportunity to have a conversation with a hiring manager. Quite simply, it seems harder now than ever to apply for a job.

Of course, the current economic conditions don’t make the process easier, but even still…applying to a job now is never just a matter of forwarding your resume to a company that has a need for someone like you. You must always combine the tools of networking, online applications and personal branding to make headway. And even then, there is a good chance you will need some luck, too.

So – back to the Redwoods and Evan Smith’s statement.

It seems that career changers and job seekers, just like the Redwoods that have been around for thousands of years, need to become a “plastic species”. Mr. Smith says the trees are like machines – they never stop growing and replenishing themselves.

Job seekers & career changers also need to get positive momentum going and never let it stop. Momentum is the key to keeping your career alive.

Continuously expand your networking. Continue learning and keeping abreast of business and technological changes. This is even more important after you land a job.

Shift your paradigms if necessary – meeting new people can be interesting and fun with the right mindset. Pull back for a short time when you need to, but keep the energy going. Don’t let yourself fizzle.

One word of caution: Don’t become really plastic or really like a machine. Once you take the human element out of the equation, your uniqueness gets lost, you seem insincere and people get turned off.

Without authenticity and differentiation, you will definitely be placed on the endangered species list in the job market.

On a similar note – if you are interested in authenticity in a job search, you may find it interesting to read Cathy Keates’ blog “If I had a Hammer”.

What I like about her is that she is brave enough to introduce a novel idea – that perhaps we need a new approach to job search language; one that omits the idea of  ‘selling yourself’ or creating ‘commercials’ about your background.

QUESTION: Do you think her ideas are just about semantics, or do you think she’s hit on a good point here?

Check her out – Cathy Keates, author of Not For Sale! Why We Need a New Job Search Mindset