I used to think what I saw performers and corporations produce was the thing they were currently working on. This perspective was a consequence of hanging out with amazing improvisers. That is, cats who expose where they are (and what they are exploring) in any given moment in professional public performance settings. It’s how they work.
I’ve since come to realize that the practice of presence that permeates improvisation doesn’t get practiced in many other places. Improvisers don’t plan out 3 to 5 years for strategic plans. They don’t try to manipulate other players. They just offer, and respond to offers. They stay in the space of moment by moment offering and responding. They don’t take the easier path of assumption, rote responses, or control.
The context of corporations, “performers”, and societies works differently. It’s a longer game. Plans are made, cycles of iteration are experienced, only brief moments (a single performance, a new product, a particular celebration or ritual) of public exposure are shared. And this was a huge point of learning for me.
Come to think of it, improvisers are continually doing this work. It’s just often not isolated from everything else we do.
Either way, the private work is the anchor for all the public interactions. The private work – thinking, dreaming, training, practice, meditation, prayer – all of it underlies what happens in public. Do you know your private work?
It’s good practice to articulate it, focus on it, remind ourselves of it, lest we lose our anchor and drift off to sea.