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Innovate Like a Comedy Major

Thoughts

By Tyler Dean Kempf – Facilitator

I give more advice in the month of May than any other month of the year. As an adjunct faculty member of Second City and Columbia College’s Comedy Studies program, my graduating students often ask me for advice about their futures. “You have spent four years learning how to innovate,” I tell them, “Do work and approach that work the way you would an improv scene: with curiosity, not fear.”

It’s important to remember that you’re not always going to be perfect and that failure is a gift.

But don’t fret: one doesn’t need a four-year degree in Comedy Writing & Performance to utilize the skills of an improviser when the goal is innovation. You can tap into our inner improviser. All you must do is welcome failure, relax your inner-editor and trust your instincts.

  • WELCOME FAILURE: Take the pressure off yourself to make every idea a golden one; because that’s not going to happen. It’s important to remember that you’re not always going to be perfect and that failure is a gift. Yes, you read that correctly. FAILURE IS A GIFT. With each failed idea, you learn what doesn’t work, which eliminates possibilities and gets you closer to the actual winning idea. Allow yourself opportunities to fail and welcome failure with open arms.
  • RELAX YOUR INNER-EDITOR: Children begin building a muscle in their brains that prevents them from saying things that could get them into trouble or hurt somebody else’s feelings. This “inner-editor” can become very strong by adulthood. As an improviser and an innovator, you must learn to relax that inner-editor and allow your thoughts and ideas to flow freely. Surround yourself with people who will support every idea without judgement. Judgement comes later when it’s time to edit, but in the ideation stage, let those ideas fly.
  • TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS: Instinct is NOT overrated. Often, your gut makes the correct choice right off the bat, but your mind prevents you from following through. Put your brain to rest for a while. Trust. Your. Gut!

I tell my future graduates to approach life with curiosity, not fear. Fear makes one uncomfortable and hesitant, which can cause them to pull away from new experiences. Curiosity, however, is the mindset that new experiences are invigorating and exciting!

Don’t be fearful of the unknown. Lean into the fun of discovery.

Tags
fear of failure,  Navigate an Uncertain World in No Uncertain Terms

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