YES! And… Is the #1 rule in Improv. This simple two word governing principal packs a lot of benefits for your personal and professional life.
How much easier would it be to interview for a job, make new friends, interact with co-workers, have an honest conversation with partners, or even lead a team if we could reduce or out right eliminate fears of failure, fears of the unknown and social anxieties such as stage fright?
We daily claim to clients from corporate teams that Improv Comedy will help build team, leadership, sales and service skills. We claim Improv builds creative writing, critical thinking, public speaking and self-confidence.
But how does Improv comedy build these skills?
Stage Fright is the #1 phobia, combining both the fears of unknown and fear of failure. Combined these fears paralyze the best of us and even cause physical sickness and nausea.
Similarly social interaction anxieties thrive in this phobic space.
Improv turns fears of public speaking and social interaction on their head by simply playing games as a team. No one individual is left out to fail. The team forms a tight knit unit that works together to play.
That’s right, we don’t perform, we play. We play games.
We pass words around like a sports team passes a ball. In fact, sometimes we even pantomime passing around a ball.
We start with the basics. We play games that require listening and focus to succeed and nothing else. A game like ZIP ZAP ZUP seems silly and ridiculous, but it’s genius is it’s break down of all other needs. All you have to do is to follow the energy around the room, listen and focus. You don’t have to think. You don’t have to impress. You just do.
Then we add words. We don’t try to be funny. We don’t try to be clever. We just listen and respond. We simply contribute to the team.
Then we create sentences, one word at a time. Eventually we offer entire sentences at a time.
At each step we teach just adding a word is better than trying to think of the perfect word. Any word you say is good enough and accepted. There are no mistakes. There is no failure. There is no judgement.
Think like a five year old. Just play. Leave behind all those things we learned in middle school like fear and judgement.
Also let go of ego, the over compensation for insecurity. Find a space where all are on equal footing, regardless of age, experience etc.
I tell students of any age not to even hold myself, the teacher with 18 years experience as better.
Psychological Safety achieved. The spark of self-confidence blooms. Wonderful things emerge….
Creativity Now Thrives
As artists, this space, free of judgement, free from fear, the brain’s synapses start to fire.
Now that we have relaxed our tensions and laughed a bit, oxygen is pumping in at new highs. The head actually starts to tingle.
Ideas flow. As an actor, ideas about character. As a designer, shapes and colors circle. Even programers start to see new patterns for computer codes.
We become open to new ideas from others as well. Creative collaboration thrives.
William Fry, the late great humor guru from Stanford University, states that humor builds a better brain by constantly comparing two otherwise unlike items.
Once you let down your guard, you see more possiblity. You can’t think our of the box when stuck in your own construct.
The world tries to put us in a box, stop doing that to ourselves. (Branding “experts” might disagree lol).
As a team, YES! And… will lead to all sorts of possibilities. The solution to the problem is never found at the initial brainstorm. Too many teams and companies and individuals fail by not fleshing out all the options.
“Never fall in love with your first draft” or idea. But letting those first ideas flow without fear of failure will lead to the amazing choices.
Better Presentation Skills
Most classes in public speaking have it backwards, trying to build your confidence by teaching you better presentation skills.
Simply building confidence, reducing fear of failure and unknowns, opens one up to present information better. Over time you will learn from mistakes, because NOW you are not afraid to make big ones. You are taking chances.
Now if you misspeak, stumble, for draw a blank for a moment you won’t freak out. You can simply smile, breathe and move past the inconsequential moment in time, and find humor and joy in your “failure”.
Also Improv teaches storytelling. Your presentations, whether to a mass gathering or small table of friends, will become more interesting.
Both personal and business relationships are destroyed, or never formed, due to these fears.
Many amazing connections are avoided altogether, because we fear the word NO, in others.
Fear of initiating contact could lead to missing out on a valuable partnership.
Great sales people and con artists are successful because they know about the numbers games AND never fear it’s perceived failures. A NO is not a failure, it’s just a NO.
The Confidence to Say YES
Saying NO is easy choice. Saying NO is the lazy choice.
Saying YES puts responsibility on your shoulders. It requires follow through. It requires listening. It requires confidence in your self.
Saying YES puts yourself out there for possible failure, possible hurt.
How many say no at work, because you fear backlash.
NO, we can’t afford that.
NO, we don’t have time for that.
NO, the bosses won’t go for that.
How many great ideas are left behind because too many lacked vision?
Instead, what if you enacted a little improv exercise? Ignore the kneeejerk NO and take two minutes to brainstorm that idea.
Maybe it leads no where, but chances are it leads to another even better idea that NEVER would have materialized.
This vision takes YES AND leadership.
The Confidence to Say NO
We focus on saying YES in the improv world. But it needs to be stated that we should always say yes UNLESS it puts us in physical, mental or emotional harm.
Having confidence to say NO at the right time can save a life time of pain. Too many reserve NOs for fear of involvement but fear saying NO when it will save us pain, in some cases physical injury.
Saying NO to an abusive friend or family member or partner, because we fear being alone, financial ruin etc is real.
Saying NO to a “friend” daring us to ski down that that slope we are not easy for can kill.
Building confidence gives us the power to choose our story.
It’s Not All Kumbaya
For me, YES And… is a selfish choice. I surround myself with, and support individuals that support me. Those that choose to judge or abuse are left out. I give them every chance to embrace, I try to teach them to let go of the old games, but at the end of the day, I get to choose my family.
I experience pain and hurt. That’s part of life. But in between tough moments I am surrounded with smiles and laughter. I have amazing clients that come back year after year. I work with the best team of artists. When I have love to give I give. When I am hurting I have a village of support, now from around the world thanks to social media.
Have the confidence to make GREAT choices in business and personal life.
Start building your tribe today, surrounding yourself with supportive genuine friends buy discovering self confidence and other skills from improv comedy.