The greatest stumbling block in life usually is self generated and it usually is tied to our own unrealistic expectations of what success should look like.
I've been taking classes and workshops in improvised theater at the Contemporary Theater Company for the past year and find it to be very helpful in all aspects of my life. Improv in the theater is about being generous, in the moment, and as simple as you can be. Successful improv is about being obvious and generous with your partners and audience. The idea of failure is rewired to remove the negative connotations associated with it.
Lots of talk about "being joyful" in improv. I think this is a very smart word choice because joy is not always without some level of stress or excitement. Joy is different from happiness because it folds in and transcends the negative elements of life which makes the feeling richer and more nuanced. Being joyful is being happy with full knowledge and appreciation of what it is to not be happy.
What does improv have to do with business? Quite a lot. The truth is improv is nothing more than a formal exercise and practice of what is occurring all the time. In business, your client is your partner. You need to figure out what they need to perform well. This is not done by trying to read their mind, but by being as simple and transparent as possible. Help them have the best experience possible.
When I'm performing in a Micetro, I'm most successful when I'm not thinking of what I want to say or do, but responding to what my parter is offering. It teaches me to be creative and flexible and also allow others to succeed. If I ran my business without incorporating the lessons I've learned in Improv, I'd be constantly trying to find customers who were willing to put up with only what I was willing to put out. There is no humility in that failing business model because it doesn't include any outside input. It is a closed loop system.
We think of our work more as a collaboration than anything else. Improv has helped me be more present to that practice of giving and being positive. It doesn't always work out the way I thought it would, but it never fails.