Welcome to One Word Suggestion.
Most people think improv is just for comedy or jazz music. 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, pineapple, was suggested by Celine.
These days pineapples are pretty easy to get, whether you’re eating them on a pizza with ham (gross), or slurping one down in a piña colada (yum). But it wasn’t always this way.
According to the Mother Nature Network, pineapples were first brought into the mainstream during the colonial era. This was back when explorers like Christopher Columbus would return to Europe with rare crops from the “New World.”
But pineapples were so perishable, they became a symbol of luxury, nobility, and wealth throughout Europe. A single pineapple could fetch a fortune. And so, the host who was able to present freshly cut pineapple to his or her guests was the one with money, power, and connections.
In fact, people used to rent pineapples to display at parties. They were literally too expensive to eat.
These days we can all agree that pineapples are affordable and edible. And we can also agree they are truly a unique looking fruit.
And there’s an interesting reason for that.
Turns out pineapples don’t grow on trees, or bushes as many people think, but rather from a plant. And the fruit is actually made up of dozens of flowers that all come together to make a single pineapple. In fact, each of the spikes on the outside skin of a pineapple is — or was — once an individual flower.
I know it sounds crazy. Hit pause and google it if you don’t believe me.
Anyway, this got me to thinking, the way all those flowers come together to make something so lovely and delicious is similar to how an improv ensemble works.
There’s a whole other episode of this podcast based on the word “ensemble,” so I won’t spend too much time on it here, but the basic gist is that as a group of people you agree to have each other’s backs.
You agree to support each other’s ideas, actions, choices and decisions — and to always try and make each other look good. And to accept failure as an opportunity to learn, to pivot and to move forward, together towards your common goal whether that be selling a million widgets or just putting on a great improv show.
When you see a team working well together like this, different people joining forces and doing their part selflessly, confidently and un-competitively, it’s a beautiful thing.
But what about when someone is not playing along.
Sticking with the pineapple metaphor, if you’re the kind of person who sometimes comes across as a bit prickly on the outside, but the people who know you think you’re sweet, then you might just be a bit of a “social pineapple.” That’s a thing. I know because I made it up.
So how do you cut away the rough stuff so people can see all the goodness inside you?
Improv training can help.
By getting you comfortable with being uncomfortable, and letting go of ego. By creating an environment where you trust the people around you to have your back and that they want you to succeed. And where you can trust yourself to be able to confidently react, adapt, and withstand whatever comes at you.
All this, including the ensemble stuff, is what we teach every day at both our school and in our corporate workshops.
Just like the pineapple that used to be exotic and unique, a whole new, sweeter, more delicious you is now easily obtainable — and at a very reasonable price.
So that’s my take on pineapple.
Thanks for the great suggestion, Celine.
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