Life’s ups and downs are inevitable, but how well we’re prepared to handle uncertainty is not. How we react to situations--unexpected constructive criticism from our boss, presenting on our feet to a client, and dealing with a family illness--depends on how often we’ve had to navigate uncomfortable situations.
Glenn Hall, Creative Director of Just Improvise, an Australian-based improvisation company, developed a concept called Hive of Nine Be’s to help people be their best selves in good and bad times. He’s helped executives, students, and individuals boost their confidence, think on their feet, and handle unfamiliar situations.
“The amazing thing about this practice is that as students take these ideas out into the world, they have an incredible capacity to help transform workplaces, communities, and schools for the better,” said Hall.
Hall recently shared his concept, why we lose touch with basic ways of being, and how we can tap into our childhood selves to return to being playful and present:
What is the Hive of Nine Be’s?
The Hive of Nine Be's brings together nine ways of being that help people live fulfilling lives – be yourself, be positive, be present, be kind, be bold, be playful, be flexible, be imperfect, and be changed.
The practice is about creating experiences to develop the mindset and skills to embrace uncertainty, unlock creativity, and master each moment, rather than letting the fear of failure and the anxiety of making ourselves vulnerable stop us from being everything we can be.
For example, the ‘be flexible’ concept may help someone deal with situations where the plan changes; ‘Be yourself’, blended with ‘be imperfect’, allows people to be OK with speaking up and to learn that failure is OK, even become our teacher.
You don't have to be the best at everything, but improvisation helps people be the best person they can be and to bounce back when life doesn't go their way.
What motivated you to design the concept?
The desire to question, explore, and begin to define the application of improvisation to everyday life, no matter which stage of life. We all improvise all the time, so what if we could train people to be more constructive and productive in every spontaneous second of our lives?
I’ve been teaching improvisation to actors and non-actors for 20 years – when I teach non-actors, I always ask why they’re here and what they want to get out of the course. Most participants will respond with, “I want to get out of my comfort zone” or "I want to come out of my shell.” This shows an understanding for the need to develop and practice resilient behaviours in order to lead happier and more fulfilling lives. You don't have to be the best at everything, but improvisation helps people be the best person they can be and to bounce back when life doesn't go their way.
Why, as adults, do we lose touch with basic ways of being that we learn as kids?
There are many reasons, including wanting to fit in with society. Another major one is the pace at which we live, in large part to technology, and the pressure to earn a living as we enter adulthood. The technological age has made us more connected while experiencing less connection, even with ourselves.
To play and be playful is paramount. Everything we do builds on this notion of having fun while we learn.
The education system bears a large responsibility for destroying individual creativity and shaping students into anxious perfectionists. In his seminal book Impro, improvisation pioneer and creator of the internationally recognised improv show Theatresports, Keith Johnstone says that “many teachers think of children as immature adults. It might lead to better and more respectful teaching, if we thought of adults as atrophied children.”
What’s the first step we can take to reconnect with our childhood selves?
Bringing back play; whether it be in the office, classroom, home or meeting, can help connect you to those incredible, childlike ways of being – fusing the best of being a kid with being an adult, so we can achieve our goals, have amazing relationships and generally love living, creating, exploring, and doing that with others in a spontaneous, fun way. To play and be playful is paramount. Everything we do builds on this notion of having fun while we learn.
“Improv gives people the chance to play and re-experience ideas we innately knew and ways we intuitively behaved as kids – things such as failing happily, which most young children are happy to do all the time, and trying less to achieve more, while encouraging fearlessness, collaboration, commitment, positivity, and fun."
So, get working on your best self. Print or draw the Hive of Nine Be’s, tack it to your wall and practice being your authentic, genuine self, even through life’s tough times.