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You’ll be OK, I Promise.

Have you ever considered how your personal life experiences can also help improve your professional life? Education teaches you the technical skills required for your career. But sometimes, it’s your hobbies—whether traveling, playing sports or singing in an a cappella group—that teach you the intangible skills needed to truly be successful.

Last year around this time, I stepped into my first class at The Improv Shop in the Central West End. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I had wanted to try this for a while, and now was the time. I did it for fun, but I also thought it might help me to become a stronger leader and public presenter.  

Over the past year, I have become engulfed in a community of support, grown into a better performer and a learned few lessons that have truly furthered my career.

Say yes, and…

This was the first lesson that our teacher drilled into the class. When you're creating an improved scene, you have to be willing to take whatever someone says or does and run with it.

If you’re in a scene and your partner says “It’s just a little tattoo on my arm, I don’t see why you are so upset, mom!” Your immediate reaction may be to reject it, by saying “You don’t have a tattoo…” But, then the scene is over and where’s the fun in that? Instead, try out “Yes, and it is a huge deal, you’re only 15!” Now you’ve created a situation with a power struggle between parent and child. The hilarity and honest interactions have the potential to be limitless.

Move forward

It’s important to note that not every scene idea will work, but you mustn’t dwell on it - there's another scene coming up, and you have to focus on that. Keep learning and trying new things.

Trust & support your team

Improv only works if you trust the people you're working with and trust that they will support you. There should be an understanding that each teammate will draw from life experiences and their individual backgrounds to take things in a better direction. Trust that they are as committed to making the scene work, as you are. Trust that they can help you out if things go wrong, and that you can return the favor when needed.

These lessons have made me into a better professional, and honestly, a more open person. In public relations and marketing, we are constantly making quick decisions and we have to always trust that our team will have our back. Some ideas may flop and that’s ok, just remember that your team supports you and move forward.

Finally, don’t forget to say yes, and. Grab life (and your career) by the horns, hang on and go full steam ahead. You’ll be ok, I promise.

This blog post is courtesy of Lindsay Van Quaethem, marketing manager of Downtown STL, Inc. Lindsay holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc.) in public relations, advertising and applied communication from Missouri State University, and is currently in the MBA program at Webster University. She also serves as the programming co-chair for PRSA St. Louis. You can find her on Twitter @lvanquaethem



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