After I graduated with a BA in mathematics I started graduate school. At the same time, at the age of 20, I started an experimental theater company, Waggo Makes Connexxions. We performed in vacant lots, parks, and the county library. That’s me above, taking a bow with my troupe after our second performance. The picture is fuzzy because it’s taken from a video shot with a camera that was in use 40 years ago! We were in a vacant lot in Bloomington, Indiana, where I went to college. That particular lot was on the main drag, Kirkwood Avenue. It was previously the site of the Earth Kitchen, a favorite restaurant before it burned down.
The two activities, graduate school and my theater company, vied for my time and ultimately theater won my attention. Although any responsible adult would have criticized my decision, it was the right move for me. 20/20 hindsight allows me to see how my experience performing in public led the way to my change work. I document it in both of my books, Getting Change Right, and Getting Innovation Right. I learned how to grab attention, hold it, and enroll onlookers. These were core competencies for leading change. It is easy for me to trace my change work back to these roots.
You never know how what you are doing today will inform what you end up doing tomorrow, and the best way to ensure the future when it comes to professional pursuits is personal passion. I am glad I followed my heart into theater. It gave me many wonderful adventures and became the foundation for the work I do today, helping professionals to envision and adopt new, better ways of working together.
May the coming year build upon all your strengths. May you be at your best. And may you rise to make a wonderful difference in our world.
“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written.”
– Melody Beattie