Someone I was speaking to recently was perplexed that, as an improviser, I rehearse thrice a week for two hours each with my improv group. When the entire performance is unscripted and spontaneous, what could improvisers possibly practise? A super lot is what I say. Sure we have no scripts and we don’t rehearse content. But what we do rehearse is the ‘form’ - the frames of communication. Applying improv mind-sets to situations, others and self.
I notice that the feedback I go back with for myself is often around my being and the quality of my presence during the scenes. What’s uncanny is that the feedback for my improviser role, also seems to coincide with aspects of my personal leadership.
I see improv as a process of self-managed individuals coming together to create a phenomenal experience that touches and connects with its audience, by listening deeply and proactively building on the collective idea in a positive and unrestrained manner. When I put these together I find that the regular practise of improv enables me to show up boldly not just on stage but also in all aspects of my life- professional and personal. I find rehearsing improv strengthening my own leadership traits in significant ways. Listed some of them below-
Developing comfort with ambiguity – Accepting the fear and discomfort of ‘not knowing’ and acting despite it. Discovering by doing what needs to be done in the face of the unknown. Experimenting and learning as I am performing.
Challenging patterned thinking - Allowing myself to adapt a curious mind-set, as opposed to ‘I know exactly what needs to be done here’. Making unlearning a habit. Playfully challenging the frame of reference.
Overcoming obstacles with affirmative- No situation is a dead end or a problem and there is always a way that opens forward, if I am willing to see it and say yes to the opportunity presented before me.
Giving and taking focus- Deepening intuitive awareness of when it’s time to take charge and when is it the time to support others to steer the direction forward. Letting go of the ‘performance ego’ and trusting the capability of others in the group.
Inspiration within the collective- Deepening the experience of synchronicity within the team while moving towards an ensemble mind-set through a ‘jamming- culture’. Co- creating a relaxed non - judgemental atmosphere, that encourages everyone to step out of comfort zones and be vulnerable- leading to inspired performances consistently.
A perfect leadership workout.