5 Things I Learned In Improv Class & Driving In New Snow
The best way to step out of your comfort zone is to…well, you know, step out of your comfort zone. What I mean to say is that it’s important to do something different on a regular basis so you can activate a different part of your brain. I call it driving on new snow.
Once you drive over fresh snow, it creates a brand new track. But, if you drive in that track repeatedly, it becomes hardened and requires more effort to move the tires outside of it. The comfort zone is like this. The more you stay there or re-use the same tracks, the harder it becomes to move anywhere else.
So, I like to drive in new snow on a regular basis. I make a point of doing activities which I haven’t tried before in order to stimulate new brain learning.
Recently, I signed up for an improv class. Although I’ve had bit parts in a few plays and church skits, I’ve never done improv. I went because I wanted to try something new and because I’d heard it was a great way to improve your speaking skills.
Wow! What an amazing experience. I learned so many things. But, I’ve drilled it down to 5 major ideas:
1. We’ve allowed fear to hide our greatness. The instructor kept driving home the idea that we already have the answer. We’re built to respond quickly. But, we’ve been so used to hesitating that we’ve dulled the muscle which allows us to process our environment quickly. We hesitate because we’ve been taught guilt and shame. As children, we move, create, imagine and experience almost instinctually. But, as we have been given rules, we’ve been taught that the rules are there to limit us rather than allow us to be more creative. We’ve been told we have less instead of realizing how to do more with what we already have. Simmering underneath our surface is bubbling greatness. But we’ve been taught to dampen it, to hide it because of fear and insecurity.
2. You’re not wrong. You’re just scared of being wrong. We often hold back before we’ve even tried. We can formulate 10 ideas pretty quickly but we cross most of them off the list in our minds before they’ve even had a chance to exit. James Altucher regularly writes about the exercise of writing down 10 ideas daily as a way of keeping your brain flexible and innovative. In writing these ideas down, we release the concepts of wrong or right. They are just ideas. However, when we allow them to breathe, the life of the idea then determines its impact. Unfortunately, most ideas never see the light of day because we’ve become scared of being wrong.
3. We judge because it distracts us from our own fear of being judged. Have you ever seen that person who is loudly making a point about someone else’s behavior while you stand there thinking, “Wait a minute, didn’t you just do the same thing recently?”
We do that because it’s a distraction technique. We play the video in our minds of us being judged and the instinct becomes to do something which protects us from that video becoming real. So, we strike first. We judge because we think it protects us or hides our own flaws at the very least.
Ironically, we know it’s not true because we feel the negative energy every time we judge someone. Be honest with yourself. The judgment pin pokes you and you look around, wondering whether anyone else has discovered your secret.
4. Your gut, instincts, subconscious are powerful. We process information about our environment before it becomes a recognizable thought. We process every stimulus and create a method of dealing with it even before we recognize it in the front layer of our conscious. Sometimes, you do something or say something and you wonder how you knew to respond in that way. The answer lies in your subconscious which processes information even while you sleep. The problem is we bombard ourselves with information all day long. Much of the information is not helpful and so we lose trust in our ability to choose the ideas which will work best.
But, if we would allow ourselves the freedom, more often than not, we would see ourselves making the best response.
5. Your job is not to fight your world. Your job is to listen then respond with your heart. We spend so much of our time in conflict. We try to defend ourselves and beat fears before they ever become real. We spend many conversations figuring out what we need to say next instead of simply listening and trusting ourselves to respond appropriately. Our job is to listen and know that our answer will be perfect.
Each of the five ideas listed here has some interplay and variation on the other. They may all boil down to:
“Stop being afraid and go for it”
And it sounds simple to write it. But, the more we decide to step out of our comfort zone, the more our brains are put in a position of trust. When we open up to new experiences, new ideas, new moments, we learn. And learning places us in a position of creativity. We begin to create fresh tracks…like driving on new snow.
I’m running a 21 Day Writing Challenge in my Speak Write Now Community. This post is Day 1.