Find your humor and genius and soar!

I am excited to bring you an installment of Four4Soaring, with the intent of sparking new ways to look at and approach life, tackle the changes we are faced with, and exercise our collective growth mindset as we grow.

“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” Dwight David Eisenhower

Originally published on Medium : John Johnson·8 min read

Part 1: Funny thing is…Humor is serious business

Friends, things have been rough for a long while now. For many in our nation, for some of us, at home, others of us who have learned hard new lessons at work and all of us who have had to face down demons in our culture.

We have had to fight through some stark, unfunny moments in the past year.

If we are not careful we will fall into a humorless abyss.

A place where joking is not permitted unless you have express written consent from Major League Baseball to do so.

Do I exaggerate, of course, I do, it is part of my style of humor!

But seriously folks, does the world, whether that be the sphere of home, work, governance or worship have to be a rigid place where we can’t joke around?

You will be shocked to learn I was listening to a podcast. I know, right, me, listen to a podcast?! (pssst that’s sarcasm for those unaware of my insatiable thirst for podcasts and sharing them) Anyway… I was listening to this podcast called The Prof G Show and I encountered two experts on workplace humor: Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas, who teach the popular course Humor: Serious Business at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where they :

“help some of the world’s most hard-driving, blazer-wearing business minds build levity into their organizations and lives.” Aaker & Bagdonas

(I can’t help but think they put this on their website pre-pandemic when people wore blazers and not sweatpants)

Here is a bunch of “sciency,” “facty-facts” about what in the heck (#workandchurchapprovedepithet) this might have to do with us? Here is what they have to say on their website, .

“There exists a mistaken belief in today’s corporate world: that we have to be serious all the time to be taken seriously. But the research tells a different story: that humor can be one of the most powerful tools we have for accomplishing serious things. Studies show that humor makes us appear more competent and confident, strengthens relationships, unlocks creativity, and boosts our resilience during difficult times. Plus, it fends off a permanent and unsightly frown known as “resting boss face.”

Top executives are in on the secret: 98 percent prefer employees with a sense of humor, and 84 percent believe that these employees do better work. But even for those who intuitively understand humor’s power, few know how to wield it with intention. As a result, humor is vastly underleveraged in most workplaces today, impacting our performance, relationships, and health.

Aaker and Bagdonas unpack the theory and application of humor: what makes something funny and how to mine your life for material. They show how to use humor to make a strong first impression, deliver difficult feedback, persuade and motivate others, and foster cultures where levity and creativity can thrive — not to mention, how to keep it appropriate and recover if you cross a line.”

From <>

“Not everyone is funny in the same way. Over the past few years, we’ve run a series of studies to tease apart individual differences in both what people tend to joke about, and how people most naturally deliver their humor: content and delivery. Those studies have yielded four primary humor styles: the Stand-up, the Sweetheart, the Magnet, and the Sniper.”

“When it comes to the content of someone’s humor, we’ve found that it ranges from

affiliative (wholesome, uplifting humor) to

aggressive (humor that’s no-holds-barred and a few shades darker).

Meanwhile, someone’s humor delivery can range from

expressive (spirited, spontaneous, spotlight-seeking) to

subtle (understated, premeditated, and full of nuance).”

So part 1 of your food 4 thought is to take their quiz and discover your primary humor style.

I’d love for you to share it with me. Mine is Mostly Magnet (Go figure?) #cheapexcusetousealliteration

Part 2: You’re A GENIUS!

Well now, for those of you who are more literal, prescriptive and straight-laced, you might be saying, “OK, Mr. Four 4 Soaring guy or Food 4 Thought guy?; first of all, make up your mind on which weird “4” guy you are, secondly, that is not super serious and “businessy,” what about the genius part — in the title, I want to learn about that?!”

Well for that we need to go to another podcast, another book, and a very famous, “uber-businessy” author Pat Lencioni.

I caught up with Pat (he totally allows me to call him that in my brain, despite the multiple equally fictional restraining orders) on the Andy Stanley Leadership podcast.

According to Pat and his team, everyone has two working geniuses that come naturally, two areas they struggle in and are, therefore, areas of working frustration, and two other areas that are in between our geniuses and our frustrations called areas of working competencies.

These natural giftings, or working geniuses, fall into the following six categories:

The Genius of Wonder:

· the natural gift of pondering the possibility of greater potential and opportunity in a given situation

The Genius of Invention:

· the natural gift of creating original and novel ideas and solutions

The Genius of Discernment:

· the natural gift of intuitively and instinctively evaluating ideas and situations

The Genius of Galvanizing:

· the natural gift of rallying, inspiring, and organizing others to take action

The Genius of Enablement:

· the natural gift of providing encouragement and assistance for an idea or a project

The Genius of Tenacity:

· the natural gift of pushing projects or tasks to completion to achieve results

What Pat and his team assert is that Organizations and teams that don’t tap into the true genius of their members cannot come close to realizing their potential. They are left puzzled by their inability to achieve their goals. This often leads them to make inaccurate and hurtful judgments about one another and to feel unnecessarily guilty about their shortcomings. As a leader, knowing your team composition and ensuring all areas are represented will lead to greater productivity and innovation.

Here is what Andy and Pat call the bottom-line message:

When you identify your areas of working genius, as well as your areas of life-draining weakness, you put yourself in a position to tap into your natural gifts and can achieve more in every aspect of life. Lencioni

RESOURCES MENTIONED in the podcast — yes we get to take another quiz !! Wheeee!!!! :

The Table Group’s Working Genius Assessment– Use code ANDY for 50 percent off.

So what’s the bottom line and, John, this has been way too much fun, can you please take us to a dark place in your soul before you lift us up and encourage us? Sure! My pleasure!

My cousin Eastin is an author. He writes an eclectic selection of prose, and he has done extraordinary work recently on both a post-apocalyptic novel and a fantasy graphic novel or two.

In my biased estimation, he has a couple of these types of geniuses, probably something like Invention and Tenacity, if I had to guess?

I’m much older than he is and I recall watching him (with my limited lens,) as a kid, create beautiful illustrations. I thought: “what a talented young man, I wonder if he will have a career in art someday?” I had no idea he would grow up to write these tomes, earn his Master’s Degree in Creative Writing and Literature, teach at an English second language school, nor run the operations for one. (not to mention his greatest recent accomplishment of awesome dad to an uber-cute young lady)

Last summer, Eastin posted a challenge on his Twitter account to write “flash fiction, a brief story of only 280 characters that would intrigue and provoke readers. Here is my entry:

…Only I lied. True, the words were mine. I authored them, but they were not fiction, they were a snapshot of a real moment I had experienced, over a decade prior.

Then, I had no humor. I had lost it. I was gripped by fear and insecurity. Thankfully, with the help of many amazing people, I did not remain there.

What I’ve found since then are two things:

1. Humor, my friends, must remain everywhere, at home, on social media, in the workplace, in the church, and in our culture and politics. Lest we be truly lost…like my not so fictional protagonist, there is always a lighter side to every season we find ourselves in, no matter how dire it may seem.

2. That as quick as we are to attribute genius to others, we can reach unparalleled speeds when it comes to doubting our own. Don’t do that! Stop it!

Maybe that is because we fail to understand that there are many kinds of genius and that we all possess them? Maybe if we were to be exposed to the peculiar genius we possess, we might doubt ourselves less often and without as much haste?

It’s more important than ever that we trust ourselves in ways that matter, to produce results in every sphere of our lives that make an impact, and find ways to fail fast and improve faster.

With every failure and pratfall, there ought to be a laugh and a lesson. We can do that if we are clear about what we bring to the table in the form of both our genius and our laughter (aka humanity.)

This is even more critical when we are deliberately pushed into the chasm of ambiguity and asked to iterate, ideate, and evolve as we go at a ceaseless pace.

Unlike the humorless judgment I imagined I awaited on the other end of that keyboard, or more accurately, the mold I had cast myself in at that moment, we have to do better.

We have to show up armed with both our clown nose and our slide rule, ready to join in the circus, round out the think tank, and compliment the humor and genius of others around us, every single day.

Please leave your comments, this is how we get better! I also love it when I hear stories or receive requests for themes! Just shoot me a message and I will add your idea to my list.

Be well my friends, I want to see you soar. #Iwant2CUSoar

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All photos either linked and referenced to their source without remuneration or royalty and copyright free from me, Pixabay or Unsplash.

Photo by Frank Uyt den Bogaard on Unsplash

Published by J Johnson

I am seeking to discover, find and share salt and light into the world. After growing up in financial poverty, but with a wealth of loving people lifting me up all along the way, I struggled for a good while to "do it all on my own." Until I finally found something indescribable in a mere "about me" section of a blog. Now I have the peace that discovery provides as well as the overwhelming urge to share everything I can with as many as I can. I am now trying to use those life experiences, my formal and informal education, and my over 25 years of human resources and leadership experience to have a broader conversation with the world about that something, that Light, and about Love and Leadership...with a dose of Laughter along the way. 4 Ls to Live by and to Soar by: Four for Soaring.

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