The key to improvisation is motion — you keep going forward, fearful or not, living from moment to moment.
Bobby McFerrin

Something we all know by now, is that however much we plan, we will be uprooted. By illness, redundancy, an irresistible opportunity, a pandemic or having a child.

The question is, are we willing to let go of the plan and create from the unexpected? This past year has forced us into doing just that. Perhaps you have enjoyed the freedom that this has granted you? Perhaps it’s been a struggle. Or both? 

Knowing that uncertainty and an increased pace of change is here to stay, what can we do intentionally to cultivate our ability to improvise?

1. The plan alone is not enough

Planning is important. Consider as much as you can then accept that it will change. Let go of fighting for it too hard. Maybe there are more possibilities here – maybe there’s a better choice? In the words of Cory Doctorow, ‘The first casualty of any battle is the plan.’

2. Creating doing not creative thinking

We place more emphasis on creative thinking than doing. Flip it. Try doing first. You are in motion now and you have more information. 

3. Noticing more

Train your senses to notice more. In your environment, in the people around you, in your own feelings and sensations, in the patterns that are emerging. Now you can use this ‘more’ to create and adapt skilfully. 

4. Be willing to be changed

As a coaching company, we are convinced by the importance of skilful listening. Here’s a further quality to aspire to. Be prepared to be changed by someone. That’s listening. 

5. An offer

Whatever you are given by someone, in communication for example, receive it as an offer. This means letting go of labels, knee-jerk reactions, and convention. If you receive offers with grace, people will give you more.

Re-read these five reflections and put them in the contexts of your world. As a school leader, a parent, a partner. Try one different way of being, and notice what shifts.