My friend Carl Bettinger who practices law in New Mexico has been active in improv work to improve his trial skills. He recently recommended that I read Improv Wisdom, subtitled "Don’t prepare, just show up" written by Patricia Ryan Madson. Here are a few of the ideas and observations from this short, informative book:
- Remember "pisces mortiu solum cum flumine natant" (only dead fish go with the flow)
- Say yes: Cultivate phrases like "you are right, Good idea" etc Substitute "yes and for yes but"
- Instead of planning a speech, instead try writing questions (to yourself) that you will answer during the talk. This allows you to add and develop details as they occur to you
- Give up the idea you must be perfect every time to do something. Quit trying to always make everything perfect and just do it. An example the author gives of this maxim is the 2003 NFC playoff game when the center for the NY Giants did a bad job on a field goal causing the kicker to miss and losing the game. He said afterwords: "I tried to make a perfect snap when all I needed to do was make a good one."
- While I cannot control my first reaction to an event, I can control what I do thereafter. Choose your behavior.