Lenny Ravich
Direct Traffic in the Direction It’s Going

Direct Traffic in the Direction It’s Going

August 15, 2022

Hi this is Lenny Ravich, better known as the world’s guru of optimism perhaps because I have bestowed the title on myself. Why not? I’m 86 years old and can Knight myself as “Sir Lenny the Humorist Story Teller.” You like it, no ? I became even busier during the pandemic as a  funny keynote speaker and I would like to share some of my experiences as a humorous, inspirational guide.

Go with the Flow

Imagine yourself standing in the middle of a super-highway going south and screaming to all the drivers “Turn back and go north!”

That’s how I used to live my life. Somehow I realized that I had been striving to change reality to fit my lenses, rather than observing events as they happen, accepting them as “what is” and making the best of them. After becoming mindful of this waste of energy, I began to practice “yes, and” which is what I had learned in my improvisation classes. Or, as my drama coach suggested: “go with the flow.”

Being a humor and laughter speaker, I’m often invited to give a talk where I live in Israel where there are always surprises. Well, first of all, nothing in Israel starts on time. The world is familiar with the term “Greenwich Mean Time”. However, in Israel, it is referred to as “Israeli Very, Very Mean Time”.

Invariably, while I am in the middle of relating a funny anecdote, in pop the latecomers. If the audience is familiar with one another, they will most likely exchange greetings and the attention goes to them as they high-five each other while I stand there with a fake smile, gaping.

Yes, And.

Rather than go against the traffic, I “yes and” the event. I ask if the new arrivals would like to drink something since they must have traveled a long way. Most often than not, they comply as I walk off stage to the back of the room where the coffee and cookies are displayed. The audience is most often stunned as I ask if they would like sugar or cream with that, and bring the goodies to where they are seated.

Now I have the audience’s attention! Had I endeavored to continue my performance while they were looking for seats and back-slapping, that would have been trying to redirect traffic, and that’s not fun. But by going with the flow, minus my ego, it got lots of laughs at no one’s expense.

Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans” …John Lennon

Zero Expectations

Murray Banks was and is my inspiration. He was a psychologist who touched on very serious issues while his audiences rolled in the aisles with laughter. “That’s what I want to be when I grow up,” I decided. I wanted to speak about life’s challenges and even sickness and death in a humorous fashion so as to make it easier for audiences to digest. So there was no hesitation as I signed up for his workshop at “The Humor and Creativity Conference” in Saratoga Springs, New York, USA in the year 2000, and flew from Tel Aviv to sit at the feet of my guru. I even prepared a short appreciation speech, as I had planned to speak to him in private about how he had influenced my professional life.

I was so excited to sit in the front row as this youngish lecturer took to the podium and introduced himself as Murray Banks. Wait a minute! This is not my Murray Banks who must have been approaching eighty by this time. I raised my hand, “Excuse me, sir. I came to hear Murray Banks.” He looked at me and said, “I am Murray Banks.” “No, I mean my Murray Banks” I blurted. He took a second and then smiled, “Oh, you must mean the psychologist. Sorry, he died a few years ago. I’m Murray Banks, the education expert.”

I didn’t even gulp. “Well if God has decided to send me here to attend your workshop instead of his, then here I stay and learn,” was my gentle reply.

I don’t remember much of this young man’s workshop, but I do recall feeling proud of myself at having zero expectations and making the best of what the “here and now” had offered me. That is the key to knighting myself as an optimist guru and global comedic keynote speaker.

Does this sound difficult to do? I saw it as a commitment to practicing “yes, and,” while going with the flow. I beg of you:  Make the same commitment. It will make your life so much more fun filled with optimism, humor and laughter.

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