One Word Suggestion: Firetruck

Quick! What’s a word that starts with F and ends with U-C-K?

That’s right… Firetruck!

Welcome to One Word Suggestion.

Most people think improv is just for comedy or maybe jazz. But, really, it’s a tool for life. In each three minute episode of this series I use a single word, suggested by you, as a leaping off point to explore how having an improvisational mindset will help you perform at a higher level, both personally and professionally, whether you have a career on or off the stage.

This week’s word, firetruck, was suggested by Katie.

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Given the current environmental (and political) climate at the moment, this suggestion shouldn’t be a surprise.

As I sit here in Sydney, Australia is on fire. Political leaders continue to choose ignorance and denial over science and facts. And the government response to this foreseeable and preventable tragedy can only be described as inept.

And yet, in this sad story, there are heroes. Firefighters, many of them volunteers, who are out there risking their lives to save our forests, our homes, our nation.

These legends get weeks and weeks of training. And yet, no matter how much training they’ve had, how much intel they get, or how well prepared they are, they never know what to expect until their firetruck gets where it’s going.

And for this reason, I consider firefighters to be awesome improvisers.

And I’m not the only one.

To quote from a 2013 MC Journal report:

“The notion of improvisation is often associated with artistic performance. Nonetheless, it is integral to making effectual responses during natural catastrophes.’

“Extreme events present unforeseen conditions and problems, requiring a need for adaptation, creativity, and improvisation while demanding efficient and rapid delivery of services under harsh conditions.”

“Catastrophes present us with unexpected scenarios and require quick, on the spot problem-solving.”

To quote one firefighter, “Even if you plan for a bushfire, it is not going to go to plan. When the wind changes direction there has to be a new plan.”

When firefighters arrive on the scene they need to be open and willing to respond to any scenario and move forward as a cohesive unit towards their common goal.

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Listen now on Google Podcasts | Apple Podcasts

This not only takes courage, but it also takes a practised ability to react, adapt, and communicate.

Whether they’re dealing with a national park going up in flames, or a confused cat stuck in a tall tree, improvisation is part of every firefighter’s toolkit. And it should be in yours as well.

Because the truth is, there will always be little fires at work you need help putting out. And using the same improvisational expertise firefighters have can help you deal with them.

Sometimes what feels like an emergency or a big problem is a simple misunderstanding. In fact, miscommunication, or a lack of communication is one of the biggest issues we see in our work.

So if things are heating up and making you sweat, think of improv training as a giant fire hose, capable of washing away issues that could be holding you or your business back.

And while our heroic firefighters spend their days and nights dragging their heavy hoses and dripping sweat on the fire front, the rest of us here on the home front (or office front), should not only do what we can to support them from afar but perhaps try and be a bit more like them.

Because they’re not just awesome improvisers, they’re heroes.

So that’s my take on pineapple.

Thanks for the great suggestion, Katie.

Normally at the end of each episode my suggestion is to get yourself into an improv class or book a corporate training workshop for your team, but given this weeks word, I’d also like to suggest you make a donation to Wires.

Wires have been rescuing and caring for wildlife for over 30 years and are the largest animal rescue organisation in Australia — and with all the fires, they need your support more now than ever.

Learn more at www.wires.org.au.

If you want to suggest a word for next week, or add your perspective, drop me a note in the comments or in a review. I’m making one of these every week, for a year, so definitely subscribe, like, share, and all that jazz.

Or better yet, listen to the podcast.

And in the meantime, if you’re interested in improv for personal growth, professional achievement, or just for fun, my suggestion is to get yourself into an improv class or book a corporate training workshop for your team.

You can learn all about LMA’s programs at www.lma.training

Eran Thomson is the Founder of Zuper Superannuation, Laugh-Masters Academy, LMA Professional Development, Comedy & Co, and the Australian Improv Festival.

The One Word Suggestion podcast with Eran Thomson

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