Don't Prepare. Just Show Up. Be ready. IMPROV Wisdom by Patricia Ryan Madsen
This was a fun, little book. I had forgotten how much I like to just jump in with both feet and figure it out on the way down. Maybe not for appropriate for everything, but certainly appropriate for more that I had been realizing lately. I think I've gotten too caught up in being totally prepared. In reality, that's probably not even possible. In my life, I think it has stopped me from doing somethings I needed to do. It's a form of procrastination. I want to "Just do it."
In addition, Dan Pink's new book, To Sell is Human and other on-line articles that I've been reading have been touting the benefits of Improv for business. This book wasn't written with that goal in mind, but it does offer several tips that are certainly useful when you find yourself in an unplanned situation and have to be able to engage.
I recommend reading all of it. It has lots to offer even if you don't plan to run out and join an improv group, which is what I did. If you are in the western suburbs of Chicago and interested in joining an IMPROV class, check out our calendar for more information, including dates and pricing.
Writer Madson has 40+ years experience teaching. She founded the Stanford Improvisors in 1991 and subsequently won the university's highest teaching prize. She says. "Let's face it: Life is something we all make up as we go along. No matter how carefully we formulate a script, it is bound to change when we interact with people with scripts of their own...(so) loosen up, think on (your) feet and take on everything life has to offer with skill, chutzpah and a sense of humor."
Here's some of my favorite nuggets of wisdom from her book.
Learn to value spontaneous, improvised speech - Go ahead and speak that precious first thought and g with it. The spontaneous, first responses are never false. This type of speech forces us to be engaged in real-time, fitting the responses to the prior statements rather than coming our with a canned response like politician spouting sound bites.
Dare to be average - Well maybe not all the time, but not everyone is hitting it out of the park every time. Even the Babe struck out 7 out of 10 times at bat. Allow yourself to be satisfied with "close enough," at least on occasion.
After all this it is only one time, one meeting.
Learn "Yes, and" - This simple little trick of adding on to a phrase allows you to take something, anything, even something very ordinary and elevate it to a different level. Learn how to use it like a pro and you'll always be moving things forward.
because you are Using what you have - and building on it, rather than crying about what you don't have and allowing it to impede your forward movement.
Recognize your contribution - Take time to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and realize that just like George Bailey, the world would be very different if you weren't here.
See the gift in all things - Keep trying even though admittedly its easier in hindsight. And remember, if you don't see it immediately, you can also return and use your "Yes, and" response to perhaps change the outcome.
Act in order to discover what comes next - Want something to happen? Do something. Better yet. Do something different.
Be generous. Be kind. Be grateful. - Good advice to practice on stage or off; in personal and professional relationships.