Maybe you’ve seen a TV show that features improv comedy games, or obsessed over Tina Fey or Amy Poehler’s books that screamed “everyone take an improv class!” or maybe you’ve seen the numerous articles from Forbes or CNN that have been written about the connection between successful businesses that incorporate improv into their employee training.
Has it convinced you yet that letting go of your fear and releasing your creativity through improv could be one of the smartest business moves you make in 2015? What if I were to tell you that it could be one of the best business (and personal!) moves you make in your life?
As beneficial as I believe improv can be for all businesspeople, I have found particularly that as a woman, improv comedy has been the single greatest lesson on how to be more creative, inspire me to be able to bounce back from failures, and has shaped me become the best leader that I can be. All of these attributes can be the sole credit of why my career path has become more successful since I have adapted improv into my business model.
As an improv performer, most nights of my week are made up of going on stage and making up an entire play with no script, director, props, or pre-planning with my team mates. Most people see this as the single scariest thing they could ever do! Like any muscle in your body, your creative brain needs to be challenged. Improv is like a brain-gymnasium where players are encouraged to think of fun locations, crazy characters, intricate relationships and memorable emotions. The players have no time to doubt, or challenge any idea that is brought to the stage. We are trained to say YES to everything! After I perform a killer set, my creative mind is opened, and I return to my desk Monday morning with a new wave of ideas. When you train yourself to open up the creative channel, you will be surprised at how much you may have been tuning out just by saying “no” to your ideas before they start! I encourage you to try and say “YES” to yourself sometime this week and see how good it feels to create without self-judgment.
Bad sets happen just as we all are met with professional set backs. Yes, it feels bad to step off stage or out of the boardroom and feel defeated. What I have found with performing improv though is that there will always be another chance, another set, another meeting. I used to be so critical of myself when I felt like things were out of my control, or that I didn’t meet my own high standard. When you give yourself the freedom to fail, it’s incredibly liberating, and will only give you a bigger opportunity to rise up again and keep creating.
Lastly, my leadership abilities have been carved from the exact fundamentals that we teach in improv. As a woman owned, women run business, we succeed by following the same ideals that make excellent improv scenes. We communicate- directly, honestly, and in the moment to move our business forward. We are bold- we aren’t afraid to speak our ideas, without self judgement. We sincerely believe that every spark of an idea is a gift that we can shape to reach our goals. The most important thing we do though, is that we laugh. A lot. We see every day like the same blank canvas that we see on stage, it’s up to us to make it what we want. In doing that, we find our joy, and it’s a lot easier to let the negativity fall away.
Improv has undoubtedly changed my life, and I have seen how it has changed the lives of the people I get to work with. The most powerful women I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with since Finest City Improv opened have all shared the same incredibly powerful idea. That a blank stage, a blank canvas, a fresh sheet of paper, the little idea in the back of your head, is enough to make something amazing if you are willing to jump in-without a net, without fear, and without judgment, and just create.
In business and play,
Kat Brown is Community Manager of training at Finest City Improv. She is an improv performer and improv instructor. To get tickets, register for classes, book Finest City Improv for a performance event or a corporate workshop, go to: www.FinestCityImprov.com
Stay tuned for Finest City Improv’s all women comedy retreat, coming this Summer 2015!