There’s a game we play in my improvised comedy class (check out The May Days here). It’s called “New choice!”. Two people start an improvised dialogue (“Hi Dave, I like your new haircut”) and someone shouts “New choice!”. At that moment you repeat the previous line of dialogue you’d said, but with a new choice…
“Hi Dave, I like your new haircut”. New choice!
“Hi Dave, I like your new dinosaur costume”. New choice!
“Hi Dave, I hate your new dinosaur costume more than life itself”…
And so on, and so on.
It’s an exercise designed to open up the mind to possibilities, to explore unusual routes through an idea and to get comfortable with the fact that anything could happen.
I notice the dice has done similar things to my mind in the last few weeks. In choosing the options for the dice, I’m naturally veering between my usual decision and the absurdities that I need to fill the options from one to six. As a result, I’m open to new possibilities and opportunities that I think are always there but often neglected.
– made two big decisions about new places to live
– explored a partnership opportunity I would have otherwise ignored
– made commitments to travel to three new countries I’ve never visited before
– made the decision that I no longer need a car and joined a car club
– written lines of an important contract from scratch, without the ‘need’ for a lawyer
…and many more.
The dice has been involved in some of these decisions, but the others came just from the influence of the dice: the knowledge that there’s always a “new choice” or some other possibility to explore beyond what’s obvious or habitual. It seems you can practice being open-minded. It seems you can even practice being spontaneous! Some of these things would have happened anyway, but I genuinely think I’ve been left feeling more open to possibilities as a result of the dice.
I’m learning that often the value is not in the decision you make, but in committing fully to your choice.
Like this? Try these
Shake up your productivity – with one of our time management courses, with a difference
Read more about Graham’s Dice Man experiment
What Gilbert and George can teach us about productivity – thinkproductive.co.uk
Make Better Quality Decisions with the Help of This Spreadsheet – Lifehacker
Hi Graham, I definitely think you can practice new ways of thinking, especially through improvisation. When I first started practising, I used to go to bed dreaming in ‘improv’. I’d be hyper aware of the infinite possibilities that my dream life could take. I’d had quite a few people report the same thing over the years, and people saying that the improv makes them feel like new neural pathways are being formed. Certainly, that idea of thinking outside the box is prevalent and we always hope that people take that feeling into their ‘real’ life, outside of class. Good luck on the rest of the experiment – only a true improviser would do something so brave/bonkers!
Heather, I reckon there’s loads of parallels between ninjas, zen and improv! there’s a blog post in there somewhere…