Change your life. I promise this will. I know every self help book, blog and whatnot promises that. This is different. It’s why I think it’s important that every single person in the UAE needs to go do an improv workshop. Right now. No, not right now. Like yesterday. You’re already behind schedule. Chop chop get to the workshop!
Life, as you may have not noticed because you won’t take your eyes off your phone which is fine sometimes because otherwise how would you have read this, is one big improvised event. The things you are in control of versus things not in your control is heavily skewed towards the latter. I had to accept that people still think The Big Bang Theory was a funny show and there was nothing I could do to stop that nonsense. Sure I changed the channels on my own TV and every other TV nearby that I could hack into. Sure I insulted and derided fans of the show on Twitter. Yet it still ended up escaping cancellation. Most people can only control 20% of what is going to happen. The rest is us making up things as we go along.
Hence I don’t say come learn improv. I invite people to come practise their improv because we are all improvising already – so why not do it better? And specifically I’m pointing to my fellow UAE inhabitants because of the following reasons:
We are so uptight
Looking good, saving face, hiding mistakes, afraid of admitting ignorance – I could go on and on about the perfect man from the cavemen era. That mindset is as useful as when I work out in the gym and then order Mcdonalds for lunch and Popeyes for dinner (true story). The alternative is scary of course because we are told that being open makes us more vulnerable and more likely to get hurt. Live with that mindset and I can guarantee a life of missed opportunities and regret.
How Improv Helps – It’s the antidote to perfectionism. Performing with others with little control on the outcome means you will end up ‘failing’ often and sometimes in a spectacularly funny manner. The fact that everyone else is in the same boat means you’ll all learn to laugh it off and move forward instead of plotting revenge on humanity for making you feel, according to your own perception, like a fool. And you know personally –
We are so multinational
It’s nice to exclaim with delight about how so many nationalities live out here. Kumbaya! But we can’t ignore that it does come with potential issues in communication. Getting along with different cultures requires empathy and pretending we’re not racist. And it’s harder because some of our world leaders have made hatred all the rage as opposed to being enraged about hatred. But even for the best of you with the best of intentions, some days can be challenging when you have to work in teams.
How Improv Helps – Improv exercises enhance your ability to collaborate and listen. I did that deliberately so you’d have the song in your head. Now that I’ve had my fun, let me point out that very few, if any, art forms rely so much on working with partners in the moment. For an improv troupe long term success hinges on accepting, supporting and building on each other’s ideas. The exercises also force you to focus on your partner enhancing your ability to read cues and look for understanding instead of a chance to talk over each other. And while we all keep hearing about how listening is important, it becomes very evident in an improv workshop where you stand in terms of your listening abilities.
We overthink a lot
I feel like every single person is a conspiracy theorist nowadays about something or the other. I mean just saying that makes me sound like one too. You can feel the paralysis that happens in people around you when a problem arises which was not addressed by higher ups in the scripts provided to them. We’re accustomed to being given the exact questions and answers and anything beyond that makes us jump back into our holes like we are the Ninja Turtles without any of the awesomeness. Basically an overabundance of choices has become a problem in itself and wow does this country provide us with so much!
How Improv Helps – You’re forced to commit to an idea and go with it, adjusting along the way rather than sitting wondering what to do. We live in an era of high-pressure in all areas of life. Providing solutions will help you stand out.
These 3 reasons for joining an improv group deal with some of the most important skills that allow people to grow and thrive in their jobs and personal life. They made a huge difference to me personally. I believe they will for you as well.
Thanks for reading. Do give this a share if you think it’ll help someone out by doing an improv workshop.
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