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Dance Your Challenge

kc_the_sunshine_band-(shake_shake_shake)_shake_your_booty_sShake Your Booty

The Creativity and Innovation point of this blog takes about three paragraphs to develop, so business readers, let me tell you a brief story to set it up.

I was having dinner this week with Gary Schwartz, a fine actor and Improv person who was blowing through Chicago to promote his new children’s book, The King of Average.  Gary studied with a hero of mine, Viola Spolin (he’s the leading expert on her games and methods). As we talked about Improv and I heard some of his stories I was particularly impressed with one story having to do with “getting into the body” of a role.

The Story: So Gary was playing the role of a Roman general in a scene. As he got started his voice and demeanor were all wrong, so wrong Viola stopped the scene with a loud shout. She then proceeded to have Gary do a sort of “space walk,” alone, to get into the physicality of his character. She coached him through this with guidance on-the-side guidance…”Feel the heavy armor you wear…feel the leather skirt… feel the sword you kill people with banging at your side…and you’re angry…now, start the scene again.”

The coaching was transformative. When the scene was re-started, Gary rose up to his full 6-3 height and boomed like a General. He wasn’t acting like a general, he was being a General. Gary’s learning was that it all starts in the body.

Thinking starts in the body.

That’s the point of this blog. Creativity and Innovation aren’t done only by the head. We are trained to think of both creativity and innovation as just “thinking” and we tend to think with our brains, our heads. The thing is sometimes our heads don’t know what our bodies know. Your body holds intelligence. Your body is part of your system. Most of your system! Your body is you. The brain is only one part of you. The rest of you wants to contribute!

Why would you ignore 95% of your system?

I can hear the cynics out there, right I’m going to dance my way to a new invention. Suck it up cynics, because yes you can. I hear others asking, okay, how?

Here’s how:

  • Dance.
  • Move.
  • Experience physically.

Every problem has a physical component. You can “dance” the workflow of a doctor’s office. You can dance the concept of cleaning the kitchen floor. You can make physical the flow of a software program. You can even dance complex concepts, yes, interpretive dance.

Think that’s too airy-fairy for corporate innovation? It’s not.

Real World Example: I had a group developing cleaning products get on the floor in fetal position. I put on some music and I asked them to just dance whatever came to them inspired by the music. I had built trust with this group! They’d been thinking all day about the challenge of cleaning outdoor windows. They were scared but they did it. It was amazing. Super creative. We stopped the music and jammed ideas for cleaning products, and wow, did the ideas fly. It was the most productive part of a day long session. The ideas jammed in that segment of the day bubbled to the top of convergence.

Like Gary Schwartz in the story above, the dance was a bridge, scaffolding the dancer to get out of their head, and into their body. And then the body informed the head.

So, big tip here. Find a way to Dance your challenge. It may not be dance exactly right? Physicalization in some fashion. Could be done with role plays, walk-throughs, or even just talking and walking — it all helps. Einstein took 10 mile walks in the woods in the days before his breakthrough’s, thinking about how the world works. What better way to connect with the world than a physical walk.

And, it doesn’t matter if you’re any good or not. Skill has nothing to do with self-expression. And, you’re not getting any younger, And, you’re not going to get better at anything unless you do it.

So, folks, put on the music you groove to, and as Harry Wayne Casey says:

“Aah, everybody, get on the floor
Let’s dance
Don’t fight the feeling
Give yourself a chance “

Give your body a chance to contribute to your thinking, your creativity, your self-expression, your innovation.

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