Sunday, August 16, 2009

Making Decisions – It’s About Commitment

I was driving down Main Street the other day and I got to a traffic light that was turning from yellow to red. As usual I was driving fast and wasn’t sure if I could slow down to stop safely, wasn’t sure if I was going fast enough to beat the light before it turned red and wasn’t sure if it even mattered. It was this split second of uncertainty that made me confused and even annoyed at the situation. A split second later I decided to just go regardless of the outcome. Once that moment of weighing too many options was over, all of my agitation/confusion quickly subsided and I even felt good about going.

Improv is like that in a lot of ways. When you’re weighing too many options instead of taking action you get lost in your head trying to figure out what to do. I’ve found that it is the scenes where I make committed decisions that I (and usually the audience) enjoy most.

There was a scene in a show where I was committed to a character choice from the second it started. It was a scene where one character had to be Happy and the other had to be Embarrassed. The split second the scene started, I immediately chose to be happy about causing the other person embarrassment. Because of this willingness to know who I was, I felt free to explore the stage, my dialogue and even the audience. My commitment helped build up the scene in one direction so that it could have an even bigger shift in the other direction. I don’t quite remember how the audience felt about it, but it ended with violence so that probably meant they gave us a 5 out of 5.

Commitment to choice is helpful for you because:

  1. Economy of Effort
    When you commit to your decision of character you do not have to waste resources (thought, action, focus, etc.) on other possibilities. You can live and breathe exactly how this imaginary character would.

  1. You don’t have to react because you can react
    When the decision hasn’t been made yet of who you are, you end up spending time trying to figure out how to react to situations. On the other hand, when you make the decision of who you are, you already know how to react because you’re already you.

  1. The moment is already gone
    Wasting time to figure out how to approach a situation usually means that the situation has already passed you by. The scene has already changed and you have to spend the time to figure out how to act again and it turns into a cyclical event.

  1. You can enjoy the moment
    Having made the decision, you don’t have to be lost in your head. You can be aware of all that is around you and play with the environment instead of trying to figure out where you belong in the environment.
So commit to your decisions, stay out of your head and enjoy the moment.

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