3 Life-Changing Lessons from Improv Comedy

What do Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have in common? Aside from being accomplished comedians, they’re also former members of The Second City, a Chicago based improv theater club.

I got to spend a day with The Second City’s professional development team, learning how to integrate key improv skills into my work & everyday life.

If you ever get a chance to take a class from this legendary organization, don’t hesitate to do so! You won’t regret it! In the meantime, here are the 3 key lessons I took away from my time with The Second City:

1. Bring a Brick, not a Cathedral

Too often we walk into situations with expectations, predetermined plans and completely shut off to others’ input. That may work if you’re Brittney, but not if you’re N-Sync. When it comes to relationships, most of us are not solo act’s but members of teams. Therefore, it’s important to value every teammate’s input by coming to the table ready to collaborate. We must always do our part, yet leave room for others to do theirs. Instead of bringing a finished castle, come with only a brick. Everyone’s unique contributions, built one upon another, tend to yield a far better product than the constructs of any one individual.

2. Try to “Yes, and” Everything

Sometimes good things happen when we turn off the critical part of our brains and attempt to love all proposed ideas. Instead of judging someone’s contribution as good or bad, try running with it first. You never know where you’ll end up! Your friend wants to go skydiving on his birthday? Why not say, “Yes and let’s do it somewhere scenic” Get a little crazy with it. Who knows, a 5 minute “Yes and” brainstorm session may end with you and your friend traveling to Dubai and skydiving off of a skyscraper (If you’re into that kind of thing)!

3. Tell Your Teammates You’ve Got Their Backs

In the improv theater of life, we’re all making things up as we go. Everytime we speak up or step out to do something, we take a chance. Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we fail. Failure always stings, but it stings a little less when there’s someone to help you get back up. And when you can always count on a helping hand, you feel more safe attempting something great and risky. So, don’t promote mediocrity with your silence. Speak up! Tell everyone around you that you’ve got their backs! After all, what good is a brick if no one feels safe to add theirs to yours?

There you have it! I hope you found these 3 simple lessons beneficial for both your professional and personal life. So, go ahead — step out onto the stage and give them a go!

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