Welcome to One Word Suggestion.
Most people think improv is just for comedy or jazz music. But, really, it’s a tool for life. For each article in this series I use a single word, suggested by you, as a leaping off point to explore how having an improvisational mindset will help you perform at a higher level, both personally and professionally, whether you have a career on or off the stage.
One Word Suggestion: Intelligence
This week’s word, “intelligence” was suggested by Susan.
Most of the time when we think of intelligence we probably think of I.Q. tests, Stephen Hawking, or pipe smoking professors, but there’s more to intelligence than just being good at science and math.
In fact, speaking of pipe smoking professors, in 1983 a Harvard professor and cognitive research psychologist named Howard Gardner outlined nine different types of intelligence in his now famous book, “Frames of Mind”
These include: Naturalist, Musical, Logical, Existential, Interpersonal, Intra-personal, Kinesthetic, Linguistic, and Spatial Intelligence.
On the Adioma blog, Mark Vital writes: What other psychologists thought were just soft-skills, such as social skills, Gardener realized were types of intelligence. It makes sense. Just as being a math whiz gives you the ability to understand the world in a certain way, being “people smart” gives you the same ability, just from a different perspective.
Gardner’s work has inspired humanity to embrace the idea that there is more than one way to be smart. And I’m very grateful to him because I’m terrible at math.
But I’m not terrible at improv, and what I love about the improv classes and the improv-based corporate training we run at LMA, is they both bring people together who all have different types and levels of intelligence with a view to helping them coalesce as an ensemble.
And the best ensembles, or teams, find ways to leverage each person’s unique abilities with a view towards achieving a common goal.
And as long as each person is performing at the top of their intelligence, then odds are the end goal will be achieved. And by the way, to quote our friend Bob Kulhan who literally wrote the book on this stuff, “performing at the top of your intelligence is a lot different from flying by the seat of your pants.”
When you understand how to use the tools of improv, you become able to tap everything that’s already inside you in an instant. To quote Bob again:
“Improvisation is not a creation of something out of nothing, it’s the creation of something out of everything.”
In UCB’s Comedy Improvisation Manual, they describe playing to the top of your intelligence as simply responding truthfully. It’s not about rattling off obscure facts or trivia or being overly clever. It’s about being genuine.
And when people aren’t being genuine, it’s usually because they suffer from self-doubt, insecurity, or a lack of confidence – all things improv training can give you. Along with all the EQ or emotional intelligence and soft skills, employers are always looking for.
So if you want to get better at thinking on your feet, or learning to use all your inherent abilities, experiences, and knowledge to get more out of your work and life in general, then I think one of the most intelligent things you can do is take an improv class.
So that’s my take on intelligence. Thanks for the great suggestion, Susan.
If you want to suggest a word for next week, or add your perspective, drop me a note in the comments or in a review. I’m making one of these every week, for a year, so definitely subscribe, like, share, and all that jazz.
Or better yet, listen to the podcast.
And in the meantime, if you’re interested in improv for personal growth, professional achievement, or just for fun, my suggestion is to get yourself into an improv class or book a corporate training workshop for your team.
You can learn all about PowerProv’s programs at powerprov.com.au
About One Word Suggestion
The One Word Suggestion series is your personal toolbox full of ways to help you use the power of improvisation to craft a more mindful and meaningful existence. Available as articles, a podcast, and soon, a book filled with powerful exercises for teams.
The One Word Suggestion Podcast with Eran Thomson
In each 3-minute episode, Eran uses a single word, suggested by listeners, as a leaping off point to explore how developing an improvisational mindset will help you perform at a higher level personally and professionally.
Whether you aspire to be better on stage or on the job, this quick hit of improv inspiration is sure to bring you some insights, perspective, and joy.
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