3 Ways to Focus on the Process and Enjoy the Results

“Instead of trying to be funny, lets agree to have fun!”Shawn Roop

Many of us are conditioned to view the world as a series of results. What grade did I achieve on an exam? Did I land the big client? Do I own a home, car, or fancy new smart phone? The ends sometimes feel like they outweigh the means. Improvisation presents a window into another perspective. Improv begs us to let go of the result, and focus our attention on the process.

When I first arrived at the doorstep of improvisation, I was intimidated. I wanted to be funny, and I thought I found a place that would teach me just that. What I discovered was a philosophy that encouraged me to place process before product. Ultimately, none of us knows exactly what is “funny.” It is subjective. That which is funny to one person, might not tickle the next. Improv avoids the results-oriented pitfall of “funny” by placing the focus on the skills we use onstage to support our team.

The following are three areas of focus that help us shift from a “results-focus” to a “process-focus” in both improv and life:

Presence in the Moment

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” Oogway, from Kung-Fu Panda

All we have is the moment. We could focus our attention on the result, but in life we find that the end result is never quite what we planned anyway. Rather than chasing that which doesn’t exist, improv teaches us to focus on the here and now. Everything that you need is within you at this moment. Don’t let the beauty of the process escape you.

Paying Attention and Listening

“History is made everyday. The challenge is getting everyone to pay attention to it” ~ Adora Svitak

Listening is one of the cornerstones of improvisation, and it means more than simply using your ears. Pay attention with your whole body. Don’t listen only to words, but focus on body language and tonality and the overall temperature of a conversation or situation. Everything is information that can serve you in the moment. Embrace the vision of others and treat them with respect. Results are usually the end game of collaboration, so instead let’s focus on the team that surrounds us.

Say “Yes, and…!” with Enthusiasm

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”Joseph Campbell

To create something from nothing, we must be open to the ideas and thoughts of our colleagues. “Yes, and…!” is our primary philosophy in improv. If “no” is safety, “Yes” is adventure. “Yes” is the courageous acceptance of a challenge and “No” is the negative reaction to fear. Fear is often the product of our results-oriented perspective. By choosing to place trust in the process, we can let go of fear, say yes to the process and create through a collaboration that allows us to build something together that is much more than the sum of the parts. Listen, say yes, and add your unique insight in support of your team’s ideas.

Improv demonstrates the power of the process and helps us understand that life is about the journey and not the destination. Don’t worry about where you are going. Where are you right now? That’s exactly where you are supposed to be, in the moment, focused on the process.