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by Darren Held

I’m plumb tuckered out! It’s not from the quantity of work I’ve done the past week or so; it’s actually from the level of comfort I had with the work I did.

I decided a while back that I wasn’t really putting 100% effort into things (which is a lifelong habit I’m working on breaking). While I agree that in certain situations “good enough” is good enough, in certain other situations there is absolutely no such thing as “good enough.”

In terms of my own growth and development as an artist and a human being, I needed to push myself further out of my comfort zone. I needed to realize that there is no good enough. Because the thing is, whenever you become adept at a new skill, your comfort zone grows. Things that used to terrify you no longer do. That’s awesome sauce. However, once an activity, skill or emotion ceases to challenge you, doing it ceases to improve you. You have to leave the comfort zone and venture into the danger zone.

I’ve been giving everything more of me the past couple of months, and this last week was a week of several firsts for me: first time teaching a sketch writing class, first time teaching an intermediate improv class, first time in a new improv school, first time being interviewed on TV, first speaking role in a film. A couple of those things affected only me, so screwing up wouldn’t hurt anything for anybody else. But in several instances, other people were depending on me to do my job well. Doing something for the first time is scary as hell in any event; having others relying on you to do it well ups the ante considerably. In the past, I would have simply declined offers that put that much pressure on me; I would’ve avoided the danger zone at all costs. Now that improv is my middle name, I feel like I owe it to myself and everyone else to accept those challenges and rise to them.

That doesn’t mean I’ll never fail. But like we learn in improv class, commitment will get you very, very far – and so by giving each of these endeavors 100% of my attention and ability, I at least know that if I failed, I failed honestly and not through lack of effort.

And I also feel like I earned the lazy Sunday I’m currently enjoying. Yay!

By Sonnjea Blackwell

Darren Held
About Darren Held
Darren is the CEO and Creative Director of Held2gether, Improv for LIfe. He has been teaching and performing improv for 15 years, and has performed with H2g, the Groundlings, UCB and Second City. He loves Moto, red wine, and Madonna.

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