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Shared Secrets from the Cirque du Soleil

If you’ve never taken in one of the amazing and spectacular shows of the Cirque du Soleil, you really need to treat yourself and see one. Cirque travels extensively to major cities and have permanent shows with elaborate stages and buildings in Las Vegas. One of my favorite shows of all time is their The Beatles “Love” in Vegas. The Cirque du Soleil web site gives an overview of some of the organization, their shows, and captures some of their special magic.

Today’s guest blog is written by Vera Asanin, founder and editor of YourWorkPlace. Based in Canada, her organization produces outstanding materials and conferences on workplace, personal growth, and leadership. Vera’s blog highlights just how critical the Laughter Index is to healthy team or organizational cultures.

By: Vera Asanin

Guest blog post from Vera AsaninToo many people cringe when thinking about the next meeting they have to attend. Boring, too long, stale and all too serious. Meetings are the same-ol’, same ol’. Now imagine an alternative: Would employees be a bit more light-hearted about attending and actively participating if they knew it might be fun?

At Cirque du Soleil a full-time staff member travels from meeting to meeting, workspace to workspace to ensure that Cirque staff don’t take themselves too seriously. And the best part? This staff member is a clown.

What makes Cirque a vibrant, thriving work culture? Daniel Lamarre, President & CEO, of Cirque du Soleil located in Montreal, Quebec, recently shared some of his thoughts at the 2011World Business Forum in New York. And it all starts with him. He believes that his job is to “create the best conditions to allow his creators to create”. He has absolute clarity about the fact that Cirque must be innovative to be successful, and he does everything in his power to allow innovative ideas to grow.

For example, Cirque celebrates their failures. They have a Museum of Horrors — a physical venue within their work environment showcasing the thousands of dollars spent developing things that didn’t work. There is no fear or trepidation to try something new — only support and encouragement. You see the museum serves as a reminder to all team members that ideas and innovations are a stepping-stone to thoughts that will eventually work. How cool is that?

Working at Cirque can be strenuous. Artists must be optimal performers at all times. The risks are great and they can’t afford to have a less-than-awesome day. They can’t afford to have an “under the weather” moment, while they recover from a long party the night before. They must be disciplined, as team members rely on each other for safety, perfect execution and precision movements, and they have 5,000 spectators counting on them to perform perfectly.

Working at Cirque is not easy. As the pressure to perform mounts, strain on the body and muscle tension escalates, breathing quickens and pearls of sweat appear, staff can always rely on their friendly clown to cut the tension.

So I walk away believing that a clown on staff is a novel idea with obvious benefits. Although not right for my work environment, I will pay attention to hiring those who have a great sense of humor.

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