This shows up in my life on a daily basis, and I am now forever changed by this knowledge. In fact the picture above is a good example of one of the biggest lessons I have learnt from improvisation, which is ‘taking the offer’.
I had the pleasure of spending the weekend with my dear friends Claire, Corrina and Sam a couple of weeks ago. We all went to Whitstable for a weekend of fun, relaxation and catching up. Good times were had by all, we cooked together and ate good food, we laughed and played games and we talked, talked and talked some more….we are very good at that! Not only this but our weekend was punctuated by several things that occurred only because one of us, or all of us ‘took the offer’.
Let me explain…the above picture shows us all at the end of an impromptu game of beach tennis. This was not planned. we did not know we were going to do this and had no intention of going out that day to play tennis, but here’s what happened;
Sam, Corrina and Claire had all nipped into the nearby little girls room, while I was left to admire the gorgeous sea view on the sands at Margate. I noticed in the near distance what looked to be a tennis match going on, so in interest I walked towards it. It looked like fun, but I was a little worried that the guys wouldn’t see me, but just before I turned to leave and go back, the lady who was playing shouted over to me ‘hey, would you like to play?’ as she held the racquet in my direction. Now in the face of this ‘offer’, the old Serena’s head went like this…..
‘…I’m not sure I do want to play. I’m not good at tennis. I’m not prepared for this. I’m wearing the wrong clothes and footwear. Is she trying to sell something? Why has she asked me? What if I go and play and the others don’t see me? What if we get split up? What if they get upset with me for leaving my post?’
I think you get the gist. These things entered my head in a fleeting moment, as in reality my immediate response was ‘yes!’, at which I ran (literally) around the court, droppped my bag down into the soft sand, took the racquet and started to play beach tennis with this lovely women who had extended an offer of play.
As it transpired, the rest of the gang had seen me. Laughed at what I was doing, and before we knew it, shoes were kicked off and we were all puffing, panting, laughing and dancing barefoot in the sand playing a brilliant game of beach tennis!
On top of this, we met some wonderful, inspirational people making a living doing something that they really love and we have some hilarious photos to boot to remember our impromptu game.
So, I can tell you that before I did improv I was a very different kind of person. I now relate my ability now to ‘saying yes’ to things to this very practise.
Improv opened me up to the fact that anything and everything was not only possible, but that if I engage with my surroundings, embrace the unknown, the absurd or challenging that I could potentially grow in ways that could effectively sped up my evolution. I kid you not! I truly think that I advanced leaps and bounds in my own self-development by partaking in improv, in a way that would have taken me years to learn in my day-to-day life.
I know…I can hear you now, how do you ‘learn’ to improvise? By its very nature, the word suggests that you cannot prepare to improvise? Well, ultimately though this might be the case, when you learn to improvise or do ‘improv’, you are in fact learning to open yourself up to possibility.
Ask yourself now, what would happen to me if I was open to anything happening in a way that I did not need to control or look for perfection? What would happen if I wasn’t afraid of getting things wrong, not only that but when things don’t go my way, seeing the possibility of where this new path could take me that was even better or more exciting than before?
I use improv strategies in my coaching practice all the time. In fact I’m currently working on a couple of really exciting group programmes where people can learn some of these strategies to help them in their daily life. If you’d like to know more about them, then please sign up for the blog as you’ll be the first to know and the first to be offered early bird prices for these courses.
In the meantime, you can implement the ‘taking the offer’ strategy immediately. Try it for a just a day, or even a week. It requires saying yes to things that you would usually resist (obviously not dangerous or silly things)….I wonder what wonderful things will open up for you when you do?
Til next weeklies leave you with another couple of shots of some actual sea swimming in Whitstable. The first time we went in was SO impromptu that we felt we didn’t really need to go back to our abode for swimming gear (!), hence these more appropriate pictures for your perusal. Tee hee!