Pessimism ahoy! In the New Years, almost as frequently as people speak of their resolutions others talk about the futility and failure rates. This got me thinking about life in technology and how we look at companies and their products.

And then Ben Horowitz, lyrical geniusbrilliant VC, already wrote about this. I have some additional thoughts to add, but his post is significantly better and more rounded and should be read first:

Don't hate, create.

Yes, and...

Over the last year I've been fixated on the ideas that come from improv. In a nutshell, it's about creating a culture of inclusion and positivity. Recently at TechCocktail Week, the guys from Cultivated Wit presented. During Q&A, I asked them their thoughts on the importance of improv training in the tech sector, and ideas on how to expand improv programs.

This comes at a time when President Obama states that everybody should learn to code, and it seems nearly everybody is. Should we also learn to improv? A portion of their answer has stuck with me, and captures the sentiment of the right type of people:

In improv, you are surrounded by people who want nothing more than to help you succeed. It is an amazing experience to be in a room where literally everybody is working with you and so eagerly wants you to succeed.

A step above "don't hate"

How often are you surrounded by people who entirely and completely wish for your success? And then will do what they can to help you? I have had people in my corner, but never in such a selfless capacity. I did improv in high school and remember that sensation. I need to get that feeling back. That ridiculous, hopeful, selfless positivity.

Of course, there are dangers with unbridled positivity. Ideas can flow that defy reality. There are dangers to being positive, people get carried away. The danger in getting carried away is not the departure from reality; it's the fear that settles in when we must turn our dreams into reality. When we must be unreasonable and productive.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

— George Bernard Shaw

When the improv ends, people retire to their cubicles, the work begins. The fear sets in. That's normal, but remember that everybody who matters is cheering for you.

Everybody who matters helps you succeed.

Ideas to start:

  • Find an improv workshop or class, enlist a friend and go!
  • Hold a "Yes, and..." meeting in your company.
  • Practice positivity, try to be mindful of any negative responses. Spin them positively or sit quietly. Most bad ideas die on their own, replaced by good ideas.

Theatrically yours,

– Jay

Cover photo from Bob M. Brown via Flickr.