The Art of Improvisation

Have you ever planned something so well only for the plan to be upset in the last minute as a result making you feel confused? Many of us would love things in life to always go as planned. We work so hard in calculating every step on the way with the hope that everything will go as perfectly as we wished it to be. Sadly, that’s not always the reality. Sometimes things go wrong but we still have to get the intended result. Hence, this becomes the million dollar question: how do you make it happen in the midst of a sudden change? This is where the art of improvisation sets in. In order to improvise and fix the situation, you need the following:

1. Keep your composure within
Sometimes when we talk about keeping composure, people think it means you should be slow when in reality you need to be fast in order to fix the situation. Keeping composure here means that your mind should not be in a haste or panic even if your body needs to move faster. Good athletes for instance run fast but their mind is still centered, and that is why they can resist for a longer time. Keeping calm within will give you the right wisdom you need at that point in time.

2. Use your intuition or discernment
Listening to yourself is one of the greatest skills you need in order to manage an unpredictable situation. Sometimes you can’t get the maths right by logical reasoning but that inner voice tells you, it is possible. The way to practice building your intuitive strength is to have a daily routine of reflection. It does not need to be long, 10-15 minutes is okay for a start.

3. Observe and Empathise
We are often in a haste to make decisions without observing what might be the current state of affairs. Situations are best judged by what is observed in the present moment and not much reliance on what seems similar to apply previous knowledge. When we observe keenly, we need to also empathise. It’s not always about doing what we want to do but also putting ourselves in the position of the other party to see if we would like what we intend to do.

4. Read, play and live!
It is often said the more you read, the more you know which is quite true. However, reading alone is not enough. It has to go with having a life of experiences. This may be travelling, playing games, hanging out with friends or volunteering at a community center. All these little but different experiences is what forms together the wisdom you need to improvise when the need arises. So, get out there and live your life!

5. Be flexible
A lot of people fail when their plans change because their mind is so limited to what they had previously conceived. Life is impermanent and so we have to be flexible at all times for the unforeseen. Do not be afraid to try something new. There’s nothing wrong in trying if the previous is already obsolete.

I’ve been travelling as a project manager for the last four years dealing with circumstances and people from different cultural backgrounds. This has taught me how to think out of the box as things do not always go as planned. However, improvisation does not only have to be in a negative situation. You could also improvise to take advantage of an opportunity that was not in your initial plan. I remember arriving at a conference last year in Pointe Noire, Congo without my bags and resource materials because the airline delayed them. Instead of panicking or cancelling my presentation, I chose to forget about my initial plan and spoke from my heart based on how I read the audience. They could feel my truth, and I could feel their concentration. Till today, this happens to be one of my most impactful events out of more than a hundred gatherings where I’ve been a speaker.

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