Improvisational magic

Not surprisingly I am an improvisation advocate.  This week I had a series of conversations with a diverse grouping of executives, friends, and colleagues about various life challenges.  In almost every case I found myself advocating on behalf of the basics of improvisation:

Say yes
Actively listen
Focus on the ensemble and/or the other
Stay postive
Cooperate
Build and create with others

I’ve been reading a few articles this week that brought improvisation to mind. One article in the HBR this week — How to Really Listen by Peter Bregman http://bit.ly/pAiXop — has much to say about listening that I agree with.  Sadly Bregman leaves out play, performance and improvisation and offers readers a cognitive behavioral approach to developing better listening capabilities.

One thing that Bergman wrote in this article jumped out at me and it is this simple statement:

Listening, it turns out, is magic.

I think there is a magic that comes with creating conversation and a key ingredient is active listening. This made me think of the wonderful work that my colleague, Cathy Salit the CEO of Performance of A Lifetime, does with corporate executives.  Cathy is an expert at helping people actively listen and create new conversations.  Here’s a wonderful excerpt to an interview Cathy recently gave with Michelle James on her blog, The Fertile Unknown http://bit.ly/pXag1w

What mindsets and behaviors do you see as essential for effectively navigating the new work paradigm?

Cathy: Improvise. Perform. Relate to every conversation, meeting, and interaction as an improvisational scene in which you are a performer, writer and director. Break rules and make up new ones — not just in coming up with ideas, but in how we organize what we do together and how we do it in the workplace. Become a creative artist whose medium is everyday life.

We can all become a creative artist “whose medium is everyday life” — now that’s magic!