I often find myself challenged to commit to hour-long television. I question whether I have the time or energy to truly be present and engage in what I’m watching - especially if it’s dialog driven. Such was the case with My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman. Fortunately, I got over my hesitation and myself and caught a dollop of wisdom towards the end of his conversation with Tina Fey.
If you never caught Tina Fey’s Sheetcaking sketch on SNL’s Weekend Update after the violence in Charlottesville in 2017, you can easily track it down with the help of Google. You’ll also find plenty of links to articles about the sketch. Some found the comedic sketch brilliant, resonating with their own emotional reaction to the violent incident and granting permission to numb the pain with a bit of laughter. Others held the opposite viewpoint. Still others took offense, calling it an out-of-touch response that personified white privilege. Whatever your opinion, the debate over the sketch meandered into Fey’s conversation with Letterman, with Fey admitting “that’s where I broke my ankle on the landing” and sharing how she would change the last few lines of the sketch if she only had a time machine.
We do not get time machines.
I watched the Tina Fey sketch on YouTube. (I already confessed I have trouble committing to an hour of television. SNL is 90 minutes and doesn’t start until 11:30 pm! YouTube is my friend on this one.) I even remember that there was debate about it. (I frequently fall on the side of comedy. Maybe we’ll explore that another time.) What I love is what came next for Fey.
When we take something on – a cause, a project, a profession, a team, a life – and are truly in it, it can be brutal. Separating out the personal and keeping emotions at bay are not options. We. Are. All. In. And, we don’t get it perfect. At least, I don’t. (Let me not speak for you.) I stumble and slip. I ask questions and scramble for answers. I practice and cringe when I hit the wrong note. I’ve even been known to avert my gaze when faced with what has turned out to be a not-so-great idea. Things can get screwed up pretty badly. There is emotional wreckage along the way. And, we’re rarely in it alone. Look around – we’re all interconnected.
We do not get time machines.
What does it make possible when we don’t stick the landing? Opportunity. We get the opportunity to support people in their growth. We can gift them and ourselves encouragement to explore inherent wisdom and rediscover power. When we don’t stick the landing, we do get to reaffirm that it’s safe to stumble, to make mistakes, and to tap into our bank of resilience and risk trying again. At the same time, we can more forward, continuing to aim for what is good. When we commit, we can do so without hesitation and choose to lead with integrity, authenticity, and passion. And when we stumble, borrow from Tina Fey.
“I hear you. I will learn. But I’m not going to stop trying.”
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