Robert Poynton
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Start before you’re ready

July 2, 2012 – 1 min read


I have been very struck recently by how productive it can be to start things before you are ‘ready’. It is something improvisers do the whole time. They step on stage before they have an idea, rather than waiting until they have one. They let the idea emerge from the action. It seems to me that a similar thing happens in other contexts. I don’t mean you shouldn’t prepare but that if everything is determined and decided beforehand – in other words, if you are completely ‘ready’ – then something is lost. The unimagined possibility is eradicted before it even has the chance to occur.

In the month of May I was part of two gatherings where this spirit of ‘unreadiness’ prevailed. The Creative Tapas was one, an extreme example perhaps, but a wonderful reminder of the power of leaving space for people to do what they want. The Praxis Forum was another – as a pilot workshop it made a lot of sense not to ‘finish’ it but it is hard to do. We normal feel obliged to tie things up neatly. In my view, Marshall Young (the Praxis Forum Director) did a masterful job of giving people enough structure to make it work, but to leave enough open or unfinished so that people felt really involved and valued.

This is another good reason not to work so hard. Instead, let people help you. Ask for help. Start before you are ready.

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