“Have you ever been on stage or been a performer?” is a question I like to ask when I meet new people. The responses you get are really interesting and sometimes quite fun. Unfortunately, “Oh I’m not creative” Is a common response. #teardrop. Or sometimes their eyes light up and you learn that they played Frenchie in their high school production of Grease or rocked bass in a metal band called Brnt Toest! Now they are lawyers, accountants, IT guys, sales people, healthcare professionals or executives of some sort. There is no judgment here. As Bill Murray once famously said “It’s hard to be an artist. It’s hard to be anything. It’s hard to be.” “Do you still perform?” I ask as my follow up. More often than not it’s a fond memory from the past. But for a moment you can see their humanity. You see a glimpse of their inner-artist.
Everyone is Creative. Everyone is an Artist.
First of all, everyone is creative. It pains me when I hear people say that they are not. Because their response is a product of self doubt or self consciousness rather than truth. The person who says they are not creative probably tells stories at parties. They write notes on napkins in their kids lunch. They make fun, weird noises in the elevator when no one is around. They probably sing in the car or shower. For those of you that were writers, musicians, finger-painters, or actors in your pre-business years, we know that its in you. But perhaps it lays dormant.
All of you “non-creative people” and “secret artists” have the ability to tap into a plethora* of unique problem solving skills that aren’t being accessed because our learned behavior is that it’s not appropriate in the workplace. And it’s a shame because work is where we spend most of our time. We have all of these creative people from the top executives to the people on the front lines all walking around with our own weird, fun, unique perspectives on the world and no one is letting it out to our mutual boredom! We talk in buzzwords and statistics instead of telling stories. We lecture from pre-prepared speeches instead of interacting with our audience. We send out wordy emails instead of videos, Gifs & Memes or other fun communication devices. We conform and it’s hurting our productivity, our corporate culture and our sanity.
* “plethora” is fun to say. So is “cornucopia.” Say it three times fast. Do it now! 🙂
I say, learn to let the monster out! Creativity is contagious. It can help you and your business succeed.
Now I’m not suggesting that everyone has amazing talent. And often you get the interesting combination of lack of talent paired with overconfidence, which is only funny from a distance. But this is not the point. The point is that we are all creative animals and we should embrace and feed that part of ourselves. In addition, the pursuit of artistic endeavors helps you acquire new skills that can make you be more effective – more creative, a better listener, a better collaborator, a better leader, more positive, and more interesting to be around. There are skills that can be acquired and there are muscles that require practice. Working on your inner-artists can’t make you talented, but it can help you build skills and improve exponentially.
Art and Artists Can Teach You Things
I’ve been a student of improvisation for the better part of 20 years, and one thing you notice is that the vast majority of people who take classes in improv, music and theater have no intention of making a run at Hollywood. They do it because it’s fun. They do it because they want to meet new people. They do it for professional development or the challenge. They do it because humans like to learn new things! My favorite are the people that do it because it scares them. Yes!
Here is a list – because apparently people like lists – that offers some tips from the wonderful world of theater and improvisation.
- Say Yes. Give up control. Be open to possibility.
- Reserve judgment of yourself and others.
- Collaborate with others. Jump out of the plane together. Figure it out on the way down.
- Care about ideas, not who provides them.
- Listen like a thief. Absorb everything.
- Don’t be funny. Be honest. Be interesting. Be genuine.
- There are no right and wrong choices. Just choices.
- Solutions aren’t good or bad. They are working or not working.
- Play to the height of your intelligence. Treat your audience like geniuses, artists and poets.
- Embrace Failure. Fail spectacularly. Mistakes are gifts. It’s how we get better.
- You don’t have to love every idea, but you should love every idea for a little while. It will open new doors.
Improv can teach you things.
Bring an Improv Skills-Building Workshop to your Company.
- Improv for Sales – listening, agility, storytelling
- Improv for Consulting – engagement, rapport, trust
- Improv for Legal & Compliance – collaboration, managing difficult conversations
- Improv for Technical Professionals – communication, confidence, presenting
- Improv for Leadership – coaching, status and presence, collaboration, trust
- Improv for Team-building, Collaboration & Fun!
Matchmaking & Translating – Syncing up Artists with Business
I’ve had the good fortune to have spent time with a lot of talented artists who have not only tapped into their inner-artist, they’ve let the monster out! Many of them, at first, don’t realize the skills they have, have implicit value in the workplace. Let’s face it, performers don’t dream about the big day they get to perform a scene about data security at your annual leadership retreat. But many improvisers, comedians and theater folk do have a background in business and most do not go on to SNL. Many of these artists embrace their roles as teachers, writers, performers, consultants who have wisdom to share and they love sharing it.
I launched L&E in no small part to empower these artists, to enable them to share their knowledge and expertise and apply it to different challenges in corporate environments. We’re matchmakers who bring artists and business together to solve problems. We love helping “non-creative people” and “secret artists” tap into and improve their business communication and leadership skills. We love collaborating with corporate educators, compliance officers and general counsels, sales executives and HR professionals to find fun, creative ways to simplify messaging and make stuff (live or digital content). Art, entertainment, music and humor helps to socialize learning and bridge alignment and it can help you improve communication and corporate culture. Charles Bukowski once said, “an intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.”
Embrace your inner-artist. Bring it to work. Your company culture needs you!
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L&E Productions – Comedy, Communication, Corporate Education