Hey folks. This week’s post is a little different. And that’s because I’m going back to my roots for a second.
Longtime readers know that this blog used to focus on improv. First, in the form of advice to performers. Then, as a theory on how you could use those same skills to improve your life.
And while improv has undoubtedly been one of the main forces for good in my own life, it’s hard to explain how or why, short of telling someone to just take a class and find out for themselves. But Life Unscripted: Using Improv Principles to Get Unstuck, Boost Confidence, and Transform Your Life might be a more reasonable (and low-pressure) place to start.* This new entry in the improv-to-self-help genre is actually self-helpful.
*Full disclosure: The publisher sent me a free copy of the book, but I was not asked to write this review. The opinions are all my own.
Written by two improvisers—a psychologist and artistic director—Life Unscripted makes the connection between what happens on stage and what happens in your head. But the authors are realistic. They never promise that it’ll be easy or happen overnight. Like becoming a great improviser, working on yourself is hard work and takes practice!
Even though I’ve been improvising for nearly six years, there was still plenty to take away from the book. Here are a few of my favorites:
You Are Your Own Worst Enemy
“As children, we have imaginary friends, and as adults, we have imaginary enemies.”
How often do you talk yourself out of doing what you actually want to do? Have you ever held back because you didn’t think anyone would care? I have. I’ve let my own inner critic stop me from promoting my tarot podcast because people might think it’s silly and childish.
But not promoting it is what’s silly and childish. In a twisted attempt at self-protection, we create fake enemies to stop us from taking advantage of real opportunities.
We Don’t Play The Roles Were Meant To
“We have relationships, yet we are often hesitant to embrace them. We may not want to be seen as the boss or the parent. But in rejecting the idea of roles, we may be stripping ourselves of some important aspects of the character required in the situation.”
Over the last two summers, I’ve taught a middle school improv camp. But that first time, I didn’t want to be “the teacher.” It’s camp, after all. I thought I could be the “cool counselor.”
You can guess what happened—those kids walked all over me. And by the time I realized my mistake, it was too late.
So this year, I started day one as the teacher. I asserted my authority. And I believe everyone in the classroom was better off for it.
Commitment Is Everything
“If we commit, we have made ourselves vulnerable by saying yes to the possibility of being changed by our choices. The fear of that change keeps some of us from moving forward.”
Success is any creative project is a function of consistency. Can you commit to showing up every week? Or do you give up when it gets hard?
What’s holding you back probability isn’t a lack of talent or time. It’s fear. And not fear of failure, but fear of success!
What if your blog takes off? You’ll have to keep writing it. What if more people read? You’ll have to get better. That’s hard work. And you can avoid hard work by never starting. By never committing to anything.
We Don’t Stop To Enjoy The Moment
“We tend to speed past great moments in our lives in an effort to arrive at the great moments in our lives.”
When I first read that quote, I had to pause. It describes me perfectly. I spend so much time counting down to the next thing when the thing in front of me is already great. It reminds me of what Ferris Bueller says:
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
You should be able to tell by now that this is not your standard improv book. It’s a book about philosophy, psychology, and what it takes to be present in your own life. It never promises to be easy, but from my own experience, I know it can be successful. If that sounds inspiring, check out Life Unscripted. It’s accessible, practical, short.
Each Monday, I share strategies to help you get over the fear of getting started, master your limited time, and build creative habits. Sign up. You’ll like it.