My husband does improv. He took classes, practiced (a lot), joined a group, and performed in front of crowds. My husband, the introvert. One of the tenets of improv that he shared with me is “Yes, and”
The “Yes, and” principle is all about being in the moment with your fellow improvisors onstage. You accept what they have said or done, and you build on it to propel the scene forward. For instance, if your fellow performer is sitting down with his hands in front of him as though at a steering wheel and says “Boy, I really love driving my jeep with a bird on my head!”, you accept that in this scene, he is driving a jeep with a bird on his head. And you can build on this, and before you know it you have a full scene.
In improv, as in life, it’s when we leave the moment and get in our own way that we block what we’re truly capable of. If, instead of building on what the improvisor in the scene said, you responded with “Actually, we’re not driving, and there is no bird.” Then your teammate has nothing to build upon and the scene is done.
I think I have somehow always had a “Yes, And” approach to life. When I had a stroke, I never wondered “why me?” I simply took the fact that it happened and very much lived in the moment until I was ready to return to high school. But I was 15, and teenagers are so resilient. Breast cancer was a bit ore difficult for me in this regard, as I had basically felt I had paid my dues to the universe already, and wasn’t this just too much? But I got on board by approaching treatment like it was my job (which it was). I kept notes on everything and followed up immediately with questions and research. I “Yes, and”-ed my way through that journey because I was in the moment. I didn’t look too far ahead, and I certainly didn’t look back.
In coaching, your coach stays in the moment with you, non-judgementally listening and seeing you for who you are and who you want to be. Your coach asks powerful questions that are based in your own journey not in where the coach wants you to go, and is flexible as a facilitator of your journey.
Coaching will increase awareness, trust in self, and choice. With greater self-awareness, you can then be more intentional about making choices in your day-to-day life. As you make new and different choices, you increase your trust in self to follow through when you make the best choice for you and to dust yourself off when it doesn’t work out.
In the world of improv, awareness, trust in self, and choice are fundamental to the “Yes, And” principle. Improvisors are trained to be flexible, present in the moment, and base their next move on your last move. Just like a great coach.