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?
It's been a bumper year for ImprovisAsian with role-playing for the Leadership programs at AMP, NRMA, the Department of Justice and the Attorney General, the NSW Crown Solictor's Office and Harbour Future Leaders. Ivan also appeared in the Crown's DVD and online educational video as well as running improv workshops for adults and teens.
We've also sponsored the charity ball for Working Hearts and Hands in support to Guide Dogs Victoria, with Ivan being the Master of Ceremonies for the night, ultimately raising thousands of dollars and over 110 people attending (plus a few Guide Dogs!). Our team also provided entertainment services for the Young Australian Chinese Charity Foundation's yearly BBQ (this year in support for Dr Chris O'Brien's Lighthouse at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital).
So, thank you. Thank you for your help in making ImprovisAsian the upcoming leader in training, and we wish you a belly filling, joyous and safe holiday season, and may 2013 bring you even more exciting, creative and successful fun!
May your open hearts, minds and arms be rewarded!
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?"
Something a bit now which will thrill the visual and aural learners out there (I'm more kinesthetic and visual, myself).
Here's a video using one of those sped up drawing narratives which seems to be quite popular now. Although it can be quite helpful to watch, having the static result as a drawing only and not being a video (with sound), tends to be less beneficial.
Regardless, the content is quite interesting, and hopefully helps you with your team.