Book Summary — Do Improvise by Robert Poynton

A short & sweet book summary, for my own use as much as anyone else’s. Limited to 30 minutes.

✅ The Book in 3 Sentences

  • How we can learn from the techniques employed by improvisational actors to help us be more resilient and adaptable in work and life. Improv actors have a set of principles that help them deal with pressure, curveballs and objections — we can apply these same principles to life and business.

💫 General Impressions

A novel take on how to improve our adaptability and spontaneity in life and work. As with all the Do Company books, it’s the perfect length and very readable. The sections on how improv principles can improve our creativity Is maybe a little tenuous, but the sections on communication and leadership more than make up for it with genuine unique insights and actionable frameworks. The instructions on improv games are unnecessary too — let’s be honest, I’m never going to try those. Luckily these sections are easily skippable. Overall, very enjoyable. I’ll definitely be trying to work some of the less abstract stuff into my daily life!

⭐️ Overall rating

4/5 Stars.

🕵️‍♂️ How I Found It

This book is part of the fantastic Do Company series, which is in turn a spin off of the Do Lectures events. I’ve also read Poynton’s other “Do” book “Do Pause”.

😀 Who Should Read It?

  • I think everybody could benefit in some way or another from the principles outlined in this book.

💭 Things That Stuck With Me

  • “Everything is an offer”. Accepting that a lot of things in life are outside of your control, and instead learning to practice a framework/mindset that will help you to adapt to anything. In a similar way to improv acting, you can use everything in life and work. Curveballs, setbacks, blockers — all of them can be used as a launchpad for something else. You just have to: 1) Notice More; 2) Let Go; 3) Use Everything.

✏️ Quotes, Notes & Excerpts

  • The misinterpretation of improvisation. “We generally see [improvisation] as a last resort, or a sign of failure. It is not respectable, particularly for people in positions of power, to improvise. When we catch them at it, […] we say they are ‘winging it’.” It’s actually about “being adept at flexing, adapting and adjusting to what we have, rather than wishing we had something else.”

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