Johnnie Moore

The Tyranny of Effort

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together


I’ve been doing quite a bit of training lately, as a participant that is. A mixture of improvisation and clowning. The latter, by the way, is like a highly refined form of improv and mask work, and not just practice at trying to be goofy.

I sometimes use improv activities in my work, so it’s good to remember what it’s like to be on the receiving end of instruction.

These trainings have been a constant reminder of room for improvement. So much of it reminds you of the absolute basics.

One thing I always come up against is what Viv and I have labelled the tyranny of effort. I catch it in myself and in others, playing scenes: we act as if by just doing what we’re doing with more intensity, we’ll get a better result. Now occasionally, trying harder can be just the thing… but more often it leaves us noticing less and getting increasingly stuck – even if we’re actually feeling or acting frantic. We’re doing more of what is already not working, and it become a form of punishment. Sometimes we visit the tyranny on ourselves and sometimes on others.

As in improv, so in life.

This is one of the tyrannies we’ve picked as coatpegs on which to hang conversations about improvisation and work. And we decided to get them illustrated as you can see here. (It’s by a lovely guy called Milan Colovic – here’s his page on elance, where I found him)

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