If there were a magic pill that would make you stretch outside your comfort zone in a way that benefited every area of your business and life, would you do it? Even if you had to get up on stage in front of an audience without a script to perform short sketches with other people you barely knew?
And, boy am I glad!
You see about 7-8 years ago I took a presentation skills class and one of the instructors was an improv guy. He was extolling the virtues of improve and I thought… “Hmmm that could be cool!” Since there were no classes nearby I let the idea slide into wishful thinking…until… two years ago. A colleague of mine started offering adult improv classes and I jumped in hook, line, and sinker. I never dreamed it would have had as huge of an impact on me and my business as it has.
Besides being more fun than you could possibly imagine having with very cool people and laughing until your sides split, there are some very tangible reasons why improv is the perfect fit for the self-employed business owner.
Here’s why I continue to do it (and you should give it a try)…
Improv teaches you to:
Think on Your Feet
You have to be on your toes when you play these improv games. You never know what scene you could be in, what role you will be playing, or what might happen. You can’t plan, script, or rehearse your way into success. You can practice skills that support your performance (like listening, experimenting, being present, thinking on your feet, etc.) but that is the extent of it. The rest is up to you – in the moment.
Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
Who is totally comfortable with standing in front of a crowd knowing just about anything can happen? No one. Even the most seasoned performers will tell you they feel excited and a bit nervous before a show. Knowing that you might succeed or fail spectacularly is just part of the game. You may shine like a hero or look like a jackass. Either way is OK. You learn how to show up fully and make friends with the unknown.
Fundamentally you have to trust yourself. Learning to trust your instincts, ideas, and input is non-negotiable to the process. The only way it works is if you take an idea, commit fully, and go for it. Even if it bombs. As my improv leader Aviva says, sometimes the best thing you can do is die (as in let the idea/character die). [Read more…]