First Day of Improv Classes

I just had my first day of improv classes. They are an attempt to push me outside my comfort zone (which they certainly are doing). They are also good for entrepreneurs.

One of the main lessons from this initial class was to be comfortable with mistakes. To celebrate them, even.

Our instructor noticed how some students were flinching when they were doing our exercises, like answering the Name Three Things game.

In this game, we all stand in a circle. The person to your left quickly asks you to name three things that… and the rest of the question is left to the asker’s imagination. Like, “name three things that are blue,” “name three things that taste sweet,” or “name three things that you can do on Fridays.”

Some students would flinch their answers. Meaning they would shrug or answer in a question. “Three things that are blue. The… sky, water, and Smurfs?”

This comes off as a lack of confidence. The instructor asked, “if Obama said, ‘I want to be the president of the United States?’ would you have any confidence in that statement?” Probably not.

So our class was deemed a No Flinching Zone.

The instructor has taught this class all around the world. In every class, she declares the same rule. Interestingly, when she held this class in Japan, the word “finch” was translated to “a facial apology.”

That’s exactly what a flinch is. A facial apology. You are apologizing for your answer as if it’s a mistake. Meanwhile, you could be absolutely correct. But you haven’t given yourself a chance to be correct. You’ve already apologized for being incorrect.

Since we are celebrating our mistakes, there should be no apologies or flinches. Especially not when you’re doing improv or talking about something subjective.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.