Early on in my programs, I invite a volunteer to come up and learn an Improv game. Generally, there are very few takers. I then ask for some of the folks who hadn't volunteered to share what thinking they went through that kept their hands from going up. The reasons are many. Among the most common answers are: "I don't want to look foolish," "I don't know what the game is about", "I don't like to be first", and "I was taught never to volunteer." Eventually, someone does volunteer. As the person comes up, I ask the people sitting in the audience how they feel now that someone had volunteered. Most of the comments are about much relief was felt, how relaxed they now were able to be, and how grateful they were to the volunteer for stepping up. In other words, the person who stepped up had the power, through his or her action, to transform the emotional climate for the whole group. The volunteer thereby gains a very high status in the group. A status gained not by a conscious effort to be liked, but by a desire to volunteer to play for whatever personal reason. And the entire group took note!
IMPROV TECHNIQUE TO PRACTICE: Trying to figure out what's right or best or most creative or most helpful or most controlling is futile in Improv. The only way through is to be spontaneous, authentic and expeditious in your actions. Make your statements or actions flow from what you want to do. Whenever you notice yourself attempting to figure out what someone else needs or desires, bring your focus back to what you want or need to do.
HERE’S WHY IT WORKS: In life, once you know that others are watching you and judging you based on their own feelings, you realize you may as well act on your own beliefs and desires. Do what you want to do and how you want to do it. There is a saying that "nature knows neither right nor wrong, only consequences."
Since it is futile to try and figure out how to please all others or what they are expecting, you may as well do what you believe is right. If you fail, at least you fail with your own truth. Living your own truth is the simplest way to being authentic in your life.
Izzy Gesell (Izzy's website) is an organizational alchemist who helps individuals and organizations transform their thinking from commonplace to extraordinary. Through his keynotes, trainings, coaching and facilitated sessions, Izzy offers imaginative, intuitive and immediately useful insights and programs. He is skilled at delivering meaningful material in a way that makes participants enjoy their time with him.
Izzy was one of the first to use Improv Theater concepts as tools for personal and organizational learning. He is the author of Playing Along: Group Learning Activities Borrowed From Improvisation Theater, a co-author of Cancer & the Healing Power of Play, a co-author of Humor Me: America’s Funniest Humorists on the Power of Laughter, and a contributor of a chapter on Improvisation as a facilitation tool in the IAF Group Facilitators Handbook. His video course for Lynda.com was their first course shot before a live audience. A second Lynda.com course, "Humor in the Workplace" was just released.