I love going to comedy shows and have done stand up comedy for about a decade. That being said- Improv makes me so nervous. Not really knowing what is coming next or what direction we are going is a little bit outside my comfort zone.
Teaching, Coaching and LEADING is probably about 90% improv. I was reading INC Magazine and came across the article. 8 Ways Improv Can Make You a Better Leader. It got me thinking about how the Rules of Improv can make us be better coaches. We must learn to embrace our fear and own our power. Improv forces us to be better listeners and learn how to collaborate. You learn how to be part of a team and you know at times you need to LEAD and other times you need to FOLLOW.
There are some Basic Rules of Improv and here is how they relate to our businesses and in the gym.
1) Say Yes-and! (or YES, BUT…)
2) After the `and` or but add new information.
We all know the adage “the customer is always right”. We also know this isn’t true. We want to keep our customers happy (and our gymnasts happy) so why not say, “YES” to their question. When a gymnast or parent makes the most CRAZY request answer, “YES, but…” For example, a gymnast comes and asks you if they can miss practice so that they can go to a concert. Answer “YES- but you will NOT be able to compete this weekend.” or “YES and I expect you to be here for practice Saturday morning so that you can attend the competition on Sunday”.
When a customer/ parent asks if they can get out of paying some necessary fee (ie. registration fee) , ANSWER, “YES, but that will mean your family will not be able to receive any of our discounts and he will not be able to participate in our end of year show”.
Of course there will be times where you need to say NO, but lets try to say YES.
3) Don’t Block.
The opposite of saying yes-and is blocking or denial. How many times have we learned something from our athletes? On VAULT my plan is about 97% Yurchenkos. I had one athlete I was trying to teach a Yurchenko to. She had all my prerequisites. She asked one day, “Can I try a Handspring front?- just for fun.” I let her try and although her Yurchenko was GOOD, her HS Front Pike (and eventually Pike 1/2) was GREAT.
4) Focus on the Here and Now.
Another useful rule is to keep the focus on the here and now. In the gym as well as business we need to always look and plan ahead but when things are happening RIGHT NOW- we need to focus on that. The change, the struggle, the win or loss will happen . Focus on what is going on right this at this moment.
5) Be Specific- Provide Details!
Details are the lifeblood of moving forward. Each detail provides clues to what is important. Details help provide objectives and flesh out potential problems.
6) Change, Change, Change!
Improv is about character change. The characters in a scene must experience some type of change for the scene to be interesting. In our sport, the ONLY thing that is consistent is change. We need to go on journeys, be altered by revelations, experience the ramifications of our choices.