This is not really a post about being the boss of anything. In the same way that Tina Fey’s book Bossypants is not really about being the boss of anything.
I read Bossypants about a year ago, quickly and mostly on an airplane. I didn’t underline anything, and then I gave the book away, so I admit I didn’t retain that much. I mostly took away a strong desire to get my kids to join the drama club and become theater geeks so they could be just like her when they grow up. And I recall telling everyone I knew that they should read it because it was laugh-out-loud funny. But perhaps I wasn’t receptive to some of the bigger messages contained in the book. Recently, through an internetty series of events, I came across this excerpt which resonated with me on a whole new level:
The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. The second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND. You are supposed to agree and then add something of your own.
She goes on to talk about this idea in the context of improv comedy, but you can apply it to anything that–you know–involves you and another person. Every relationship is a collaboration, every conversation is an improvisation, and it’s amazing to start noticing how much we say “NO, BUT”–instead of “YES, AND”. I don’t think this is to say you have to agree with everything. I hate the idea of a yes man. It just means that when you’re really invested in something–and truly open to possibility–and not attached to any particular outcome–the only way to explore the true potential of that situation is to say “YES, AND.”So I’ve been giving it a try–and not really doing that a great job of it! I need to be reminded of simple things like “say yes” on an extremely regular basis–otherwise I end up in the rut of NO. So instead of getting it tattooed on my forearm, I went a little lighter and started a series of sewn objects, which I’m calling “Ways to say yes.”The first in this series are these lined, zippered cosmetic pouches. Each one is stitched with a freehand quilting foot, without a pattern (so they’re all totally one of a kind). So far I’ve got: F*** yeah, YES please, FOR sure, BEEP BOP BOP BOOP BOP, HELL yes and LET’S DO THIS. Suggestions for other ways to say yes are appreciated! I’m making them in kind of valentinesy colors, so you could give it to a lover or friend who might need to be reminded that love is all about saying YES.