Last night we contributed to the cause of redressing our work-life balance and went to see Eddie Izzard at Claudelands Event Centre. There is nothing quite so good for releasing feel-good endorphins than having a really good laugh. He really is a “Force Majeure”; witty, intelligent, incisive humour that has a healthy splash of schoolboy, pythonesque absurdity and a strong sense of social justice. Just brilliant!
But there are two things about yesterday’s show that prompted me to write; one is his complete support and passion for learning languages. He can present his show in French, German and Spanish and is planning on learning Arabic next. It is not just learning the language though, it is being able to reach out and connect with the culture and the nuances of language and understand the psyche of a people and what makes them laugh. Somehow he can do that.
The other thing is his down-to-earthness (not sure that is a word!), his sense of realism, of humanity, of social justice. I was surprised just how much of himself he revealed in snippets during the show. There were moments of very personal reflection amongst the silly noises and the insightful observations of life. In his Q & A session after the show he was asked about how he trained for his challenge of completing 43 marathons in 51 days to raise money for the charity Sport Relief. He said that he trained for only 5 weeks prior to starting and that the first 10 marathons were training for the next 33! But his comment that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything struck me most.
We talk a lot about “grit”, about perseverance, resilience in education now. But where does it come from, that picking yourself up after you’ve fallen down and keeping going? Can we teach it? Can we learn it? Can we change the way that we are? Is the ability to persevere an innate quality or can we develop it? There are plenty of articles out there, if you google “teaching grit”. In this Tedtalk Carol Dweck talks about how we can shift our mindsets, how our own beliefs about our abilities affect the way that we learn and approach life.
We hear the cliche about being able to do anything if you put your mind to it all the time but I believe it is true. Anyone can put one foot in front of the other but there has to be a desire to start, and then a determination to succeed and a doggedness to keep going when the going gets tough. But maybe you also need a sense of humour and just a little dose of absurdity? I will put that theory to the test on 28th March!