The power of a “Power Pose”

How much space do you take up? No, we’re not talking about oxygen or your belongings. Literally, when you stand or sit, or enter a room, how much space do you take up and how do you convey that to others?

This is one of the tenants of “Status” – a tool Improvisers use to communicate, influence, empathize, and… play. Status is present in our every day lives and asks us to consider how we act, talk, and feel along a continuum of submission to dominance.

We can choose our status. It is ever in flux. Choosing our status can help us gain the confidence to own the stage.

Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School does a wonderful job of teaching us how to play with status, how being more mindful of status and body language helps shift us neurologically to act the way we want to feel.

Want to learn how? 

Or watch her TED talk, here.

A power pose is one way. What else triggers you and helps you act the way you want to feel?

To be creative is to be in an”open mode” – How to enhance creativity in groups

British actor and comedian John Cleese wants you to be more creative. He also wants you to understand that creativity is not a talent, it’s a way of life.

In this impassioned speech that’s making its way around social media, Cleese provides an argument for building a creative life and organization that aligns nicely with current research and trends on the subject.

What do we know so far?

  1. Everyone has the ability to be creative
  2. Creativity is unrelated to IQ
  3. There is an optimal way of operating that we can adopt to enhance our capacity for creativity.

Says Cleese, key to that optimal mode is openness.

The opposite of an open mode, is a closed one – and Cleese argues creativity is not possible in this closed mode.

Instead, when we operate from a place of openness, we are relaxed, expansive, contemplative,  curious, and more inclined to humor and curiosity – without as much pressure to get a specific thing done quickly. This sort of relaxed state promotes creativity (just ask Jonah Lehrer).

We as leaders have the ability to promote a certain mood and mindset that allows creativity to flourish – and with that comes an understanding of how to manage with creativity in mind. 

To get into that open mode, we need:

  1. Space
  2. Time
  3. Confidence
  4. Humor

When we mix all of these factors together – we have the ability to play, to be childlike, to not have the fear of making a mistake , to experiment – and an openness to anything that happens.

We cannot create from a place of fear.

The creativity that comes from an Improvisation ensemble is the result of an open mode. Here, we risk saying things are illogical and wrong because we know that part of being creative means nothing is truly wrong. We know mistakes are gifts, an offer or idea might lead to a breakthrough, trust is imperative, and positivity and building on ideas creates the free-est of possible atmospheres.

Cultivating a creative atmosphere for your team starts with your mindset. What can you do to promote one of openness?

Making the case for experiential learning

“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” –  Confucius

How many times have you uttered the phrase, “I just have to experience it for myself”? If you’re like me then books, articles, videos and lectures are helpful but I often cannot fully grasp a concept or develop deep knowledge until I’ve  reflected on specific experiences. This is especially true when it comes to soft-skills training:  including communication skills, presentation skills, conflict resolution and leadership training. I learn best by doing, and reflecting on how the experience felt. What worked? What didn’t work? What can I tweak and practice?

My name is Lindsey and I am an experiential learning junkie.

Experiential learning capitalizes on the participants’ experiences for acquisition of knowledge. It engages the learner at a more personal level, by allowing them to make meaning and learn directly from experience through reflection.

Experiential Learning theory tells us knowledge is constructed through transformative reflection on our own experience. Instead of hearing or reading about others’ experiences, we are making discoveries and are simultaneously reflecting on our own experience in the moment.

Enter Applied Improvisation.

Here, we also engage the learner at a much more personal level and require of them self-initiative and self-evaluation to drive their own learning. We also sprinkle in humor, visual cues, a touch of fun, and principles that can be applied across many of our most common business scenarios and environments.  Learners set goals, experiment, observe, review and action plan – learning new skills, new attitudes, and constructing meaning in a way that’s unique and also incorporates the cognitive, emotional and physical aspects of learning.

Improvisers know experiential learning is a proven method that allows us to interact, practice skills and reflect on what we’ve learned in the moment. Instead of reading a book or listening to a presentation, try using your training time to rehearse, practice, reflect and learn while being fully engaged. Your practice will pay off when you step on stage – whether it’s an important meeting, a sales pitch, or a job interview.