One of my favorite books that I’ve read in the past decade is Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up by Patricia Ryan Madson. It distills the concepts from improv comedy for use in work and life.
One of the cornerstones of good improv is to say Yes And. Regardless of what someone else says to you, you agree and then add on to it. A comedy sketch dies pretty quickly if you say, “Here I am on an inflatable raft with my in-laws” and someone else replies, “No you’re not.”
You could see where saying yes becomes extremely important in improv. It’s equally important at work (since most of us don’t work in comedy). We need yes and to collaborate and build something great together.
Here’s examples of how this has been showing up in my work and home life lately. For work, I’ve been saying yes to new opportunities and meeting new people. I continue to be amazed by the connections I’m making and the different doors that are opening as a result. Who would’ve guessed that I’d be a guest lecturer at a university? Not me! But saying yes and led me there.
At home, I have primary responsibility for taking my kids to and from school. They bring stuffed animals along for the ride most days, which then end up riding in the backseat with me until I pick the kids up again. One day, the kids asked me if the stuffed animals had been good while they were at school.
I had two options. Shut it down by telling them that the stuffed animals are stuffed and don’t do anything while they’re at school. OR I could accept their reality and add on to it. I responded, “Yes they were good, but got a little rambunctious when I was at work.” Not only did my story delight my children, but it gave us a chance to talk about a good vocabulary word (“What does rambunctious mean?”) and gave them a chance to explain the “rules” to the stuffed animals around expected behavior (teaching is such a great way to solidify your learning!).
Now, I routinely get a chance to practice my storytelling when the question of what the stuffed animals did comes up. We all enjoy using our imaginations to add on to whatever the starting point is (yes!) and we have lots of fun doing it.
#PositiveAction Find one thing to say yes to today!