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Friday, July 5, 2019


I recently read Improv Wisdom by Patricia Madson (2005).

Some of my biggest takeaways:
  • Saying “YES” keeps things moving forward, while “NO” usually shuts down thinking and creativity.
  • SHOW UP – presence is required to make good things happen.
  • Take care of each other (rather than trying to block or destroy teammates).
  • In attempting to solve sticky problems, start now, start where we are, use the tools/resources we have currently available (rather than waiting for “more” or “right” resources).
  • Listening, really LISTENING is an act of ultimate kindness.
  • Let go! Quit trying to control everything.

My favorite quotes:
“Charles Darwin recognized the value of this when he wrote, 'In the long history of humankind (and animalkind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.'” (p. 22)

“Life is attention, and what we are attending to determines to a great extent how we experience the world.” (p. 67)

“The light in which something is perceived will determine its value. I can look at a person or event from three vantage points: To see what’s wrong with it (the critical method—commonly used in higher education). Using this lens the self looms large. To see it objectively (the scientific method). Using this lens both the self as well as others are meant to disappear. To see the gift in it (the improviser’s method). With this lens others loom large.” (p. 89)

“The improviser knows that she is inextricably bound and dependent upon others. Everything we do (or refrain from doing) matters. My effort or my neglect of the smallest detail has consequence.” (p. 97)

Much wisdom here that is directly relevant to effective leadership practice. 

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