HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you managed to get some time off work and spent it with family and/or friends with great laughs, stories and a full belly!
Over the break, I had some time to reminisce over what I did last year, and recalled back when I was contracted for a roleplaying part for Habourside Future Leaders for their NRMA Frontline Management training programme. One of the Facilitators mentioned the growing idea of "mindfulness" in the Human Resources and training realm. "Being in the present" was what she said, which is essentially one of the rules of improv (and what ImprovisAsian teaches).
Not having thought much more about it as often fads come and go, in the new year, I came across an article in the Telegraph (UK publication) which talks about "mindfulness" and how "...Google, Transport for London, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Home Office..." and even the US Military and Harvard and Oxford universities are receiving/giving training in it to achieve "mental clarity" (the article can be found HERE). In the article, they even interviewed a "mindfulness training" specialist who said that,
"...We are living and working in times of constant change. Change is nothing new. What is new is that the pace of change is accelerating and mindfulness trains us to focus on the moment rather than allowing our attention to be hijacked by thoughts about the past or worries about the future...”
According to the article, the technique draws on the breathing exercises commonly used in meditation and yoga, but the aim is to become more aware of thoughts and feelings, in a non-judgmental way. On further research based on trusty Wikipedia though, it seems that the roots stem from Buddhism whereby one is supposed to reach enlightenment. However, as per many things in the commercial world, it gets rebranded into something more marketable.
However, let's get back to the essence of "mindfulness". Wikipedia provides a quote which defines "mindfulness" as:
"...The first component [of mindfulness] involves the self-regulation of attention so that it is maintained on immediate experience, thereby allowing for increased recognition of mental events in the present moment. The second component involves adopting a particular orientation toward one’s experiences in the present moment, an orientation that is characterized by curiosity, openness, and acceptance..."
Or to put it more plainly: BE IN THE "NOW" - which is what Improv is.
When I (and other teachers of corporate and educational improv) run a class or workshop, one of the main things taught is to "BE IN THE "NOW"" - don't plan ahead, don't think of the past, don't let your emotions outside of the scene affect you. You're in the scene with your partner right here, right now. You're not checking your phone or thinking what to have for dinner. If you're thinking of other things outside of the scene happening RIGHT NOW, then you won't notice the body language, inflections in language, hidden meanings, etc from your partner.
That's what Improv is: being in the moment and giving your partner (be it at work or love) your full attention.
So, if you rather not meditate or go through breathing exercises after breathing exercises, maybe it might be better to take up an improv workshop, and learn "mindfulness" in a fun environment. After all, don't we learn faster whilst having fun?
Have you heard about the Creative Innovation (Asia Pacific) Conference 2012 in Melbourne? It's running from the 28th to 30th November at the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, and from their synopsis, this is what the conference entails:
Truth be known, I didn't know about it until recently, but was lucky enough to get a spot to attend one of the Masterclasses held by Amber Imber ('Innovate like the heavyweights - proven stuff, no fluff') by being the winning reply to the question:
“What innovation will we need to survive in the future world?”
Which my reply was:
"I think a lot of people forget that INNOVATION is different to INVENTION. INNOVATION is a continual process which is adopted by a target group, which hopefully is society in general. In relation to what type of innovation which is needed to survive in the future world?
Better communication; a better way in delivering opinions and ideas. Communication begets dialogue, which in turn allows an exchange of ideas, for better or worse. An exchange of ideas will ultimately lead on to more invention and innovation."
I'm definitely looking forward to the event which I'll get to meet like minds who are passionate on innovation and tackling resistive culture. If you're attending as well, please say "Hi" and we'll catch up for a coffee!
You can follow Creative Innovation on Twitter as well: @cinov
I was asked the other day, why I wanted to train both children and corporates in using the "...softer arts when the world was all about profit and crunchable numbers" (their words, not mine).
"Because the "softer arts" are what makes those numbers in the long run", I replied. His puzzled look required me to elaborate which I hoped it would.
"Think of the traditional Tiger Mum and the school structure. Schools measure aptitude by testing and grading, and the better the child is at that subject, the better marks he or she gets. Now, the Tiger Mum isn't stupid; she knows that the easiest way to score high marks are in subjects where there is a black and white answer; objective subjects, if you will.."
"Like maths and science", he interrupted.
"Yes, like maths and science", I continued. "So, the typical process is that the traditional Tiger Mum pushes their child in the objective subjects, thereby forgoing the other subjects like art, drama and to a point, music."
"As the child grows up, they get fantastic grades at school, college or university, and then land themselves in a corporate office doing corporate tasks. Process driven corporate tasks, essentially. Which they again excel in."
"They reach middle management, and are in charge of a team. A team of mixed personalities with their own wants, needs and quirks. Then there's a promotion up for grabs, but he (or she) doesn't get it. Why?"
Do you sometimes feel lost and overwhelmed with work, study or life in general?
Sure, everyone has at least one point in their lives (if you haven't, ask yourself if you're attending to things with maximum drive).
In the article (and accompanying video) "The Emotional Adventure of Leadership", the author recalls the feelings of panic, uneasiness, embarressment and inadequacy when he had to lead a group on a mountaineering expedition as an analogy for leadership. Like the consensus, in his mind, he expects that:
"Leaders are supposed to have the answers. They're supposed to be confident, self-assured, and knowledgeable. They're supposed to know where they are and where they're going at all times."