Everything’s an (often strange) Offer

I did a skit this morning. It seems that, when I’ve just woken up, I do skits. This skit was funny but you probably had to be there. I recount bits of it here not to impress you with my early morning creative skills but to draw attention to the lesson this experience reinforced for me.

My wife and I, I don’t recall exactly why, started talking about babies. She and I have no children yet but we intend to do something about that in the not too distant future if the fates are on our side. For some reason that I cannot fathom, I went on to do an impression of a newborn child greeting the world but this child was an old Italian man called Gianfranco.

At this point something clearly had gone terribly wrong with the conversation if, of course, you believe in such things as “wrong” and “error” but I have no truck with that. Apart from when it comes to the incorrect personal pronoun. An offence I rank alongside pineapple on pizza and not having read The Hitchhickers’ Guide to the Galaxy – and no, the film doesn’t count.

I didn’t choose in any real sense what I did. It just came out of me. But since it tickled us, we continued the skit. We ended up advancing this strange story, including Gianfranco’s unfortunate decent into self destruction due to his mother rejecting him for being born an old Italian man instead of a baby. We even had a failed reconciliation attempt during a drug rehab therapy session in there for good measure. It was bizarre and hilarious, and probably offensive to old men, Italians, babies, drug addicts and my wife.

This was a lovely example of seeing everything as an offer, a central principal of improvisation – or action creativity as I like to call it when I feel like calling it a name nobody will understand.

By accepting my strange choice of old man Italian accent to represent the baby we ended up exploring a really funny scene. All we wanted was amusement and we found it through playing the ball where it lay.

If everything is an offer that means there is value in what we normally label mistakes and toss aside. How often do you do this both in your head and within group work? Something takes an odd turn and you decide to start over.

So on this Monday morning I maybe take a moment to prime yourself. This week, as you go about solving problems under conditions of uncertainty (being creative or, to put it another way, a living human being), remember that everything is an offer. Don’t throw away what looks wrong. Look closer and find out what’s right about it.