Show Up or Get Chopped
I love the art of improv applied to the stage and comedic performance, and through the years I have realized that it's not as much the comedy I enjoy as much as the thrill of not knowing what is going to happen and navigating the unknown. Comedy is just the by product (we hope) of improvisation for stage, improvisation at its core is the art of showing up, using what you have and creating something in the moment.
It’s not just in a theatrical setting that we see improvisation at work. Musicians, artists, lawyers, teachers, sales people, leaders, etc... Isn’t the cooking show Chopped just a bunch of Chefs improvising in the kitchen? Even blogging can be a bit of an improvisation if you are truly just running with your thoughts on paper. The common thread is that people show up not knowing exactly what they're going to do, trust that what they have in front of them is enough and step bravely into the unknown and improvise. I’ve watched every episode of Chopped and it’s like a sport. I cannot wait to watch their every move and try to figure out what they are going to create. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they bomb. I’m obsessed either way.
Let’s clarify something though. Showing up and not knowing what’s going to happen doesn’t mean that chefs, musicians, artists or business folks have not trained to be masters at their craft. When they have truly mastered the skills of their craft whether it be jazz, dancing, cooking, selling or teaching they are able show up with their tool belts full of the tricks and skills they can choose to pull from in the moment. You may witness a train wreck or watch a beautiful dance, meal, song, speech or story unfold in front of you.
Here's how the "art of showing up" translates to business?
Business is full of improvisation. When you step into the unknown you have nothing but what’s in front you and what already exist in your personal arsenal to use. All the unknowns in business are constantly putting you in vulnerable positions where you must be Brave and own what you have. Your tool belt contains the skills you’ve acquired up to that point and that is what you have to use in the moment. By showing up with the confidence to face that moment knowing you are enough, you have every opportunity to succeed. I mean the alternative is standing still and doing nothing.
Practice it, sustain it. By practicing the art of showing up and conditioning your brave muscles, you are able to discover, you are able to create, you are able to listen, you are able to stay focused, you are able to not get caught up in your head, you are able to accept failure and keep moving, you are able to take risks, you are able to let go and let the first thing that comes to your head be the thing you use without judgment, be confident with all your choices and SELL it!
The thing is, in life and work we don’t allow for many opportunities to practice the art of showing up. There has never been a more prevalent time in business for learning how to execute in the moment and stepping into the unknown with ease and confidence. Why are we so caught up in planning and being safe? The only thing that is certain about life and business is that there will always be moments we are not prepared for. Why wouldn’t we want to make time for practicing being brave and showing up?
Throw the recipe out every once in a while, use the ingredients you have, create something new, take a risk and tap into the benefits of showing up and meeting the moment.