• Robert Reid

Progressive Improvement with an Improv Mindset

Updated: Feb 17


“This is terrifying!” “What if I freeze up and don’t saying anything?” “I think I’m gonna barf!”


As an improv teacher, I hear these statements from students on a regular basis. I often said the same things when I first started improvising and I can certainly sympathize. But it got easier. These days when I perform, I don’t get nervous; I relish the experience and just have fun!

So, how did I get there?


Regular rehearsals boosted my skills and allowed me to achieve success on stage. I surrounded myself with improvisers who were more advanced, and I strived to get a little better every day by watching them.


Now, do me a favor and re-read the first line of this blog. (I’ll wait)


Do we ever hear these comments in the workplace?


Think about a beginning sales rep making that first cold call. That can certainly be a terrifying experience.


Imagine a recruiter conducting their first in-person interview. I certainly froze up a little during my first one.


What about a new manager preparing for a coaching session with a particularly difficult employee? I imagine they might feel a little queasy, too.


All of these have one underlying cause and that is fear. Fear comes from a place of not knowing and that fear can keep us from progressing in our lives.


At Butler Street, we have a saying; “Progressive Improvement is Better Than Postponed Perfection.” In other words, don’t wait to do something just because you think conditions aren’t perfect or you are afraid to jump in with both feet.


Fear leads to indecision; so squash that fear by simply focusing on progressive improvement. Over time, the fear subsides, and your personal growth begins to emerge.


Here are 5 simple things you can do now that will head you down the path of professional progressive improvement.


  1. Role Practice! Find someone better than you and engage in role practice sessions. Ask them to really challenge you and learn from their experiences.

  2. Plan, Plan, Plan!! When I share with people that I am an improviser, they always say “Oh, I could never do that!” So many people are afraid to improvise and yet so few of them prepare for things like sales calls or coaching sessions. A lack of preparation leads to more improvisation. So, if improv makes you nervous, plan.

  3. Do something scary! Try Karaoke. Volunteer to lead a lunch and learn. Heck! bring us in and we’ll teach you and your team some improv and some new skills. Facing fear on a regular basis helps us deal with it more effectively.

  4. Eat the Frog! When planning your day, identify the one thing you most dread having to do (e.g. the frog) and do it first! Once you eat that frog, your day will look at lot easier.

  5. Help others! Teaching others how to be successful is a great way to remind us what good looks like. Every time I teach a class, I enhance my own skillset through repetition.


Go get ‘em tiger!


Wait…you’re still here…what are you waiting for? Get going! ….or would you like more information from Butler Street or to learn how we can help you and your company grow? Contact us.


It’s time for Progressive Improvement!