The Second City is a comedy troupe in Chicago where people like Chris Farley, Steve Carell, and Bill Murray got their start.
That’s where I started 2011.
As the new year got underway, Kim and I met up with some speaker friends at Second City’s training facility for a mastermind session. In the afternoon, we all took an improv class together.
When doing improvisation, you have to be quick on your feet. You don’t have the time to come up with perfect solutions. It can be intimidating, scary, and uncomfortable. You make a lot mistakes. And the chances of looking stupid are quite high.
Sometimes something really great happens. You let go of your fear and give of yourself. You deliver a line or team up to create something that is really and truly funny. Profound. Pure genius, even. Something you never could have come up with after even a hundred years of planning.
The experience reminded me of the fact that life is NOT a dress rehearsal.
It’s not even a play.
Life is improv.
In life, as in improv, there are certain principles that guide you, but for the best results, you really just have to jump in. Also, you can do neither life nor improv by yourself. It’s messy and fast, and conditions are never quite right. It’s not possible to execute everything flawlessly, so why even try? You don’t have time to overanalyze everything to death, which is a very good thing. The best results come when you quit trying to make everything perfect, quit worrying what other people will think, and just go for it. You make mistakes. You learn. You forgive yourself. You keep going. You do the best you can.
And every once in a while, amidst the chaos, the mistakes, and the awkward uncertainty, life rewards you with something surprising and exciting; something you never saw coming. Something really, really good.
Something that even a hundred years of rehearsal couldn’t have produced.
Interestingly, such a breakthrough is possible for you right this minute.
You just need to surrender your need to have everything just right. Be willing to look silly. Push past your fear. Ignore the crowd.
Go for it — you’re up!
You hit on something that I’ve felt since taking a year’s worth of improv classes many years ago….life really is about improv. Yeah, you can take classes or see improv shows…but improv is also a philosophy that can be used in simple, everyday moments. And I’d agree with what you said about finding perfect solutions…it’s not encouraged in improv because you’re working and thinking fast to find the best solution in that moment. Thanks for a very cool post and I’m glad you expressed what you did!
Glad you liked the post, Tim. I remember you talking about taking some improv classes a while back, and I’ve always wanted to do something like that. This was more of a primer to be sure, but it really was enjoyable and applicable in many different ways.
Hope your 2011 is off to a great start!
Jai Hilliard says
Hey, Love your writing and how you express “YOURSELVES”
were all creative being,some are more maxmized then others,and this is because there Free!
Freedom and True Liberty is the formula to truly express your self and develop in what’s already inside of us all Creative Being……a life is just the test that we all need to express it and give it unto the world!
Lights Camera and then Action!we all have a story to tell in every day moments of our lives!I’m thankful for you and your wife sharing,so that we all may learn and grow!
Living it more simply in Love Joy Peace and Free
Create something Great and Good,there’s good always present!
Keep smiling as you move forward!
Thanks Jai! Godo to have you around!
Jason – you had me at:
You don’t have time to overanalyze everything to death, which is a very good thing.
And yet, we always pretend to wish we could. That’s probably an intrinsic part of human nature, since all we do responds to two basic goals: Seek pleasure and dodge pain. Risk is always related to uncertainty, and uncertainty pushes us to prepare for the worst (ergo, pain) so we rather avoid it. Heck, even our financial system hates risk. But what if something better for us is just around the risk corner? We have no way to know – unless we get to embrace risk and go with the flow. It’s easier said than done, sure – but that’s where it’s at. :)
Good point about the pleasure/pain dynamic. You always add another level of depth to things when you post. Thanks!