An increasing number of entrepreneurs are recognizing how improv comedy can bring serious benefits to their business, including new ideas and fresh approaches.
Improv can improve teamwork, collaboration and innovation in a workplace. Use of the "Yes, and” technique means team players build on the thoughts of others, rather than shutting down the ideas of their peers by presenting problems and roadblocks.
As an improviser performing in the Twin Cities, I’ve found that the skills used onstage often pay off in the boardroom, especially for those who are fresh arrivals to a team, new to a career or trying to launch business initiatives. These seven improv lessons can help you overcome doubts and add value when and where it’s needed most:
1. Follow the fear.
The late Del Close, a wild force of an actor, writer and teacher of improv — who trained folks like Bill Murray, Tina Fey, the Belushi brothers, Amy Poehler and Stephen Colbert, to name a few — coached actors to live and breathe this mantra: Follow the fear.
If that leap you’re getting ready to make leaves your palms sweaty and your breath short, then do it. If a new idea refuses to be silenced, then go for it. This advice applies especially well to those pursuing a new creative or strategic endeavor.
Often your fear is what’s guiding you. Perhaps the direction is a challenging one, but it’s probably the right one. Trust your instincts and throw your committed effort behind it.
2. Get comfortable existing in chaos.
You’ll never know what’s going to happen next, so don’t try to figure it out. Most projects and initiatives involve a variety of moving parts that come at you from various directions, often with missing details or information. Del Close is said to have described the Harold, a long-form improv structure, as “like building a 747 in mid-flight.”
If you let uncertainty or chaos derail you, that means lost time and opportunities. Cozy up to chaos and let unknowns (and surprises) fuel your performance rather than hinder it.
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