Monday, April 25th, 2016
While we may not think of life and work this way, we ’re improvising all the time.
The scenes we perform in (arriving at work, running a staff meeting, having dinner with the in-laws) don’t have scripts. But we can and do become “scripted” in how we perform them. From little things like the route we take to work, to pretty important issues like our style of leadership, it’s as if these performances—which at one time were actually new and fresh (you improvised them at first)— were always there and now they define who we really are.
But if you keep improvising—walk or talk in a new way, ask a question when you would normally say nothing or argue, use different body language, etc.—you can continue to invent who you are, what you do, how you do it, and how you feel, see, and think. You’re engaged in growing and learning and doing things before you know how.
That’s why your ability to improvise is so important. Not just when you’re forced to by circumstances beyond your control (although that’s a really good time for it); and not just when you need to come up with some new ideas, but all the time.
So we can perform every conversation, every interaction as an improvisational scene, in which you are both a performer and a director. When you do that, you get to take advantage of the remarkable benefits that improvisation can have on your relationships, communication, teamwork and more. It’s a very different way to be in the world and in your life.
Human beings were born to improvise. We evolved to navigate an ever-changing, dynamic, unpredictable environment. Without improvising, human beings wouldn’t have been able to use stone tools or track prey. And the most developed human improvisational skill is conversation. Notice the social conversations you have; they are all created on the spot, in the moment, based on what happens in that particular interaction.
Summing-up: Improvisers love the unexpected, the unusual, the “weird.” It s parks creativity onstage, and can do the same at work.