Team Building Through IMPROVISATION
Principles to help free the imagination and facilitate creative and collaborative behavior.
Below you will find ideals that require practice over time. Through improvisation exercises we explore and embody these principles. We use techniques drawn from theatre because theatre is about transformation and heightened communication and is a fully collaborative art form.
- Trust your own impulses and intuition and don’t worry about what the world (or the group or the teacher) thinks of you. Get to know your “inner critic“ and learn to identify his/her voice. Practice co-existing with the critic without being dominated by him/her/them.
As we grow up, during the socialization process we all develop an inner critic whose voice restricts our spontaneity and self-expression. The idea of putting aside judging, measuring and comparing, may seem contrary to responsible adult behavior. Certainly it is contrary to the basic premise of competition: some one is always ahead of someone else. One is either winning or losing. However, the imagination is very vulnerable to criticism. Judging and censoring are the fundamental blockages to spontaneous creative thinking and behavior. Of course, evaluation of one’s achievement is necessary. The question is when, and in what context, is criticism constructive rather than squelching?
- Co-operate with and support your colleagues. Be willing to lead or follow.
Innovation occurs in a context of mutual support and emotional safety. Collaboration is give and take with your colleagues that enriches your own creativity by providing stimulus to change habitual patterns of response. Leaders are people who are able to express themselves fully. A collective unit working co-operatively to implement objectives is a powerful leadership force. We can think of “the leader” and “the follower” as interdependent roles that can be tried on by anybody. There is much self-knowledge to be gained in exploring different behaviors. How about developing the flexibility to try out many different roles at work and in life?
- Think of the work as an experiment and be good-natured about the whole process.
Take risks and be willing to make “mistakes”. There are no “right” or “wrong” choices in creative endeavors. Can we become un-attached to the outcome? Less addicted to “success”? What’s the worst thing that would happen if you allowed yourself to look “foolish” or “silly”?
- Stay present in your body, let your sensory awareness inform you.
When we are primarily outer-directed, constantly efforting to do what we think is expected of us, we often lose touch with our own bodies, our own creative impulses and desires. All our experience is recorded in the body. Heightened psycho-physical awareness allows us to be more present in our world.
- Relax and allow the joy of play.
Ah ha, child-like behavior! As adults we seem to have forgotten that exploration of the unknown is the most intelligent and creative action of the human nervous system. Play is so essential to development that it exists in the young of all mammals. The attitude of play (absorption, fantasy, delight) creates fertile ground for “out of the box thinking”. Playfulness, especially combined with physical activity, creates changes in brain chemistry that allows fresh, inspirational behavior leading to discovery.
- Listen with your ears, body, eyes, soul.
Obviously, there is no communication without active, sensitive listening. Being heard (and seen) is essential for each team member to feel that her/his point of view is valid.
- Stay in the moment and trust the moment, as much as possible.
If one allows oneself to truly notice the physical/ emotional/ spiritual environment of the here and now, one is in a position to respond authentically to it. Spontaneity is readiness to respond freshly to any situation.
- Commit yourself fully to whatever you are doing.
Commitment comes from a desire to be fully involved in an activity or relationship for the satisfaction of deep engagement.
- Don’t try to be “original” or “clever”.
These are indefinable and subjective qualities and striving for them will very likely invite in your inner critic.
- When in doubt: tell the truth, emotionally, verbally and physically.
With kindness and sensitivity, please.
“Play is the highest form of research.”
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