“Life is a lot like jazz… it’s best when you improvise.”
~George Gershwin

I was on the phone with a client the other day. She is going through a tough time with something at home, and all I want to do is to support her and to find any way I can to make it easier for her.

But she said something that I couldn’t let pass by. Something about how she would be a failure if this home situation wasn’t resolved extremely positively (and somewhat perfectly).

“You know I want to support you in every way I can,” I said to her. I could see her tense a bit. “I want to support you in every way I can,” I continued, “but I have to remind you that you actually have very little control over how this turns out.” I paused to let that sink in. “And,” I continued again, “if it doesn’t turn out exactly as you – as we – want it to, that in no way means you’ve failed.”

I watched my client tense further…and then relax. Relax and let those thoughts bring her ease.

There is so much that is out of our control. At home. At work. With others. With ourselves. This is why Gershwin’s quote resonates with me – because all we can really do is practice, know our instrument, run our drills, and then take life as it comes and improvise.

Not only is this pretty much all we can do, but when we improvise – when we allow ourselves to creatively be present with what’s happening, be intentional about the “song we want to play,” and be authentic in sharing our music (in others words, when we’re Thoughtful) – we most likely have the most fun and we most certainly make the best music.

Sometimes we have to bring our skills (notes) from other music we play into this new tune and situation; sometimes we have to learn new notes and skills from someone else; and sometimes we have to completely make things up as we go along. Any way you look at it though, improvising through life is a lot like improvising in jazz – it creates great music and Thoughtful musicians.

How have you learned to improvise and what happens when you do?
Please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For support in learning to improvise more, contact Robyn at rmcleod@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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