The Only Life Skill That Matters

[Weekends are for non-magic posts.]

It's amazing how much time people let tick-tick-tick away.

I travel a lot and so I spend a lot of time sitting next to strangers. There is some element of my personality or demeanor that makes people feel comfortable opening up to me. And I feel I have had conversations like this 100 times in my life.

Stranger: Yeah, well I just got out of a 16-year marriage.
Me: How long should the marriage have lasted? I mean, at what point did you know it wasn't going to work?
Stranger: Oh, after 8 months I knew we weren't right for each other.

Everyone is spending too much time in dead-end relationships, at dead-end jobs, and on dead-end paths. 

They're not confused or unsure. They might be scared or lazy. But either way, they're definitely paralyzed by the thought of action. Which is bizarre because action is the remedy for everything (depression, anxiety, boredom, fear, regret). Action is even the remedy for previously ill-thought out actions. It's like a drug that cures the complications from itself.

If there is something you want to do that you're not doing, I am going to propose to you a first step:

Take an improv class.

If you're within 100 miles of even a smallish city you should be able to find an improv class. Go sign up for one.

"But I don't want to be a comedian."

That's not why you're taking the class. The improv community will offer you a whole host of benefits they say improv can bring. They'll tell you it will make you more confident. That it will make you a better speaker. That it will make you a better performer. That it will allow you to live in the moment. That it will increase your communication skills. Those are all pretty much true.

Then they'll give you some fruity nonsense benefits about how improv is an opportunity to "play" and use your imagination and be a kid again. That may or may not be true.

But all those real or imagined benefits pale in comparison to the one life skill improv teaches you, and it's the only one that matters: The ability to minimize the time between inspiration and action.

In improv you are encouraged to act on every momentary impulse. In real life you don't need or want to act on every whim. But your life will be improved when you act on those things that are a "calling" to you. And once you become a person of action you will quickly learn to differentiate between the two (the whims and the callings). Improv will give you practice at becoming a person of action.

When you first start with improv, you'll have an idea and you'll sit back wondering if you should offer it up and the moment will pass you by again and again. You'll gradually begin to shorten that time between the moment you have the idea and the moment you act upon it. You'll be rewarded for action because it moves things forward. Improper action will be corrected through more action. Improv, at the highest level, is a bunch of people taking action simultaneously with the inspiration. Your life, at the highest level, should probably be something similar.

Or, you know, you can mull over every moment of decision, put off action, and weigh the pros and cons over and over until you're dead.

by Scott Dikkers

by Scott Dikkers