Getting to Yes, And

Michael Gervais: The First Rule of Mastery


Michael Gervais

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Kelly sits down with high performance psychologist Michael Gervais to talk about his new book "The First Rule of Mastery: Stop Worrying About What People Think of You."

I think it’s probably obvious for people to understand how one’s identity is at the heart of people who are labeled as performers – like actors, improvisors or athletes – but it’s true of all of us, right?

“I 100 percent agree about the intimacy of the arts and the the intimate personal nature of that work is at play. It’s because you're choosing words and how to express the words or notes, or whatever it might be; and at the same time, in the athletic world, while they're trying to get a strike, or whatever it might be, it is their identity that is fully wrapped into what they do. And so it is their canvas and the way they contort their body or the way they can see something is sometimes unfortunately a referendum on their identity and who they are. And that's not just unique for sport athletes. That is something that any young talent will walk themselves into.”

And we have to understand that this need to be approved of is an evolutionary trait.

"What the narrative that they're working on themselves is, how do I give myself over to the thing that I love, because what I'm paying attention to is the critique and the judgment of not being good enough. I create this false narrative that I need to be perfect to be okay. And when I started noticing that this was a real trend for them and I was quietly nodding like, yeah, me, too. And then I did a bit of research on what neurobiology is associated with this psychology. We come to find out that we are deeply wired to be connected, and that deep wiring is connected to tribal days when we had to be connected to the tribe, because if we're kicked out for poor performance our survival was likely in peril.”

All of this is so improv related – because in your first class we’re working on the individual to stop judging themselves and judging others.

“Just as a pause in our conversation, I love what you guys have done and what you're doing. Thank you. The work around improv and being able to be creative on the spot, and the requirement to be in the present moment to do just that is a tactical tool. As a psychologist trying to get people loose and have fun and realize that if they just tune a little bit deeper, they can solve things. There's unlocks for you. If you could just get this anxiousness out of the way you can dive deep into full focus: that’s what you guys do and it is phenomenal.”

Photo Credit: Alex Wood

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