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: Uncertainty
I think we’d all agree that it’s important to have goals in life – to be focused, driven, and always working towards what you want.
But it’s also important to let go, let loose, and allow yourself to just explore and play. Sometimes the most important realizations occur when we’ve temporarily quieted our stream of consciousness and allowed ourselves to simply breathe and exist.
For many of us, this can be a lot harder than it sounds. We’ve been programmed to deal with facts, make plans, and expect the people around us to behave rationally.
And yet facts often change, plans go awry, and people surprise you in both bad and good ways. For some of us, the uncertainty of it all can be terribly unsettling.
Tony Robbins, has this great quote which I love. He says, “the quality of your life is directly correlated to the level of uncertainty you can comfortably live with.”
Another slightly less famous guy said it this way: “Ambiguity is not something to be feared but a given… We never have complete and perfect information. The best way to succeed is to revel in ambiguity.”
That’s from John Boyd who is described by some as the greatest military strategist in history. And his most famous contribution to wartime philosophy is a strategic tool called the OODA Loop – OODA being an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.
We have our own version of this in improv, a slightly shorter acronym, RAC, for React, Adapt and Communicate.
Nation-states and businesses around the world use both of these approaches to help them thrive in volatile and highly competitive economies, get comfortable with uncertainty and make decisions.
In fact, many leaders are lauded just because they know how to make a strong decision and communicate it with their teams. Sometimes that’s the only thing they’re good at, but with so much uncertainty in the world, being around someone who can confidently say “this is what we’re doing, let’s do it.” may bring a certain level of comfort.
Death, taxes, and maybe the sun coming up tomorrow are the only things we can be certain of. Everything else is up for grabs. That’s why we respond so well to clear, confident, truthful choices.
And one of the tricks to communicating your choices is to be specific. Because specificity kills ambiguity.
As a leader It’s not people’s job to know what’s going on in your head, it’s their job to react to what you say. And a little bit of confidence and clarity can help your team live a lot more comfortably with uncertainty.
And if you want to get even more comfortable with uncertainty, I’m 100% certain that one of the best things you can do is take an improv class. Because on an improv stage nothing is planned. All you have to rely on is your wits, your teammates and your training.
You may think you could never be comfortable with that. But I’m also 100% certain you can.
Learning and practising the fundamentals of improv will help you develop a world-view where everything, even things that don’t go as planned, are seen as opportunities for growth and learning. You will begin to trust your instinct and intuition, and the people around you. You will operate with intention – but without attachment.
And you will learn to comfortably live with uncertainty.
And when you can do all that, you can survive just about any situation you find yourself in – with grace.
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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