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Monday, March 11, 2013

Alan Alda

"If you are just looking to take bows, you'll almost always be disappointed, because the applause is never loud enough."

— Alan Alda
American Actor, Director, Writer
1936 -

As a speaker, I understand almost immediately what Alan Alda is talking about.  There are speakers who brag about getting a standing ovation every time they speak.  The applause is more important than touching the lives of people.  Applause is very short-lived.  If you blink, it might have faded away.  Yet, people yearn for the applause.  Whether you are a writer, a comedian, an artist or an actor, we all crave recognition and praise.  Yet the novel, the poem, the painting, or the performance are more important than the reward.

There are writers who become so caught up in the applause that they stop writing and instead live the life of a writer going from party to party enjoying the praise and recognition.  Some live off their reputation for the remainder of their lives.

Too much praise and recognition from the general public can be harmful to a person's creativity.  They may stop growing and maturing.  The key to avoiding the negative impact of applause is to remain humble.  True humility will free most people from the harmful impact of praise.  

Don't believe your own press releases.  You are not as good as people say.  And on the flip side, you are not as bad as people say.  I have had people tell me that I am the best speaker they have ever heard.  Now, either they have never heard any other speakers or they say that to every speaker.  Within 15 minutes of the end of the speech the meeting room is empty except for the speaker and the staff who are cleaning up.  Most people have moved on with their lives and the applause has faded.

The person we have to learn to please is ourselves, not our readers or our audience.  Our readers can be very fickle — love you today and hate you tomorrow.  Have you applauded yourself lately?  Have you given yourself a standing ovation lately?

Creative Practice:
Cast of M*A*S*H
This week find reasons to give yourself standing ovations.  Review previous poems, paintings and stories that you have written or painted and praise the good that you find.  Ignore the bad.  Be thankful for the gifts that you have been given.

Alan Alda was born Alphonso Joseph D'Abruzzo in The Bronx, New York City.  His father was an actor and singer and his mother was a showgirl.  Alda began his acting career in the 1950's as a member of the Compass Players.  In 1966, he starred in the musical, The Apple Tree, on Broadway.  Alda is remembered most for his role as Hawkeye Pierce in in the TV series, M*A*S*H.  He was nominated for 21 Emmy Awards for the show and won five.  He also wrote and directed many of the shows.  He appeared in all 251 episodes of the series.

Here is a video of Alan Alda being interviewed on CBS about his memoir, Things I Overheard While Talking To Myself.

Quote Source:
Things I Overheard While Talking To Myself, by Alan Alda