Look for the Silver Lining

Back in 2020, as we made the shift from in-person to virtual interactions, we were all familiar with phrases like, “we’ve got this” or “let’s make it a virtual coffee.”

Every part of our lives moved from in-person to virtual as we experienced Zoom school, virtual yoga classes, online grocery ordering, and even coffee from our favorite coffee shop delivered to our door. This was met by an overabundance of requests for virtual meetings, emails that we couldn’t keep up with, and stores that were always out of something that we really needed.  

We never expected to be in these same circumstances two years later. During these times, I keep reminding myself of my improv training (and the Judy Garland song) “Look for the Silver Lining.” 

The etymology of the term “silver lining” comes from Milton, who first used it in a poem in 1634. It later became, “every cloud has a silver lining.”  

How does this relate to improv?  

How does this relate to life in a pandemic? 

Improvisers use the concept of discovering the silver lining in every scene.   

We never know what is going to happen next, what surprise is around the bend… hmmm…does that sound familiar?  

To create a scene and tell a story, improvisers say “Yes” to the reality in front of us and look for the silver lining to bring the positivity that allows a scene to progress. 

It’s part of who we are as a company. The ImprovEdge Ensemble will always bring the positive and look for the silver lining to help our clients move forward. 

This is not easy – it takes practice. Even our language is littered with negativity. A study found that our words express negative emotions (50%) over positive (30%) and neutral (20%) emotions.

It takes intentionality to choose positive emotion words and express ourselves in ways that reflect the silver lining. We must remind ourselves to remove the negative language. 

The How  

We’re giving you the same challenge we’ve given ourselves: 

  • Write it down. Find a silver lining for your experiences over the past two years.  
  • Share it. Because positivity is contagious – in a good way. (#findthesilverlining) 

The Why 

Silver Linings is one of the small behaviors that build relationships and trust. The little everyday pieces that move teams and companies forward – positively. 

Think about driving a car – the rear-view mirror is a useful tool, yet your focus is on what’s in front of you. Bringing that improviser’s view to your daily practice and your team helps them think about moving forward, even when there are uncertainties. 

As leaders, this is what we want to model for our teams. Because when we look for the positive, we’re looking for possibilities.

We’re telling stories.

We’re solving problems. 

Like improvisers, we are moving the scene forward. 

My Silver Lining 

I had been planning to relocate from Columbus, OH to Los Angeles, CA since the day my niece Annalee was born in 2019.  My house sold right away (which was not expected) in February 2020, and I had to be out by April 1.  Then, everything changed in March with the COVID19 pandemic. I was left with two weeks to sell everything in my home and move by myself! As an improviser, I approached everything with “Yes, And.”  

How could I find a silver lining? I listed, sold, and in some cases gave away 90% of my possessions virtually. Many of the items had sentimental value and some had been in my family since the late 1800s. I thought that I would feel a sense of loss, and that was not the case.  

My childhood table and chairs went to a mother who needed them to teach her two small children from home. My antique Lincoln bed and matching dresser went to an out-of-work shop owner who had great plans to restore them.  And the list goes on and on.  

I packed up a moving box and got on a plane to Los Angeles on April 2, 2020.  I felt relieved, unburdened, and ready for a fresh start.  As I held my nine-month-old niece in my arms, I realized that my life is not about possessions.  It is about connecting with the people that I love – my friends, my family (and the weather helps).  

April Olt is the Director of Design for ImprovEdge. She lives in Los Angeles with her sister and her niece, Annalee. 

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This article is 100% written by a human named Karen Hough. She is the Founder & CEO of ImprovEdge, in the top 4% of women-owned businesses in the US, a 3-time Amazon bestselling author, Yale grad, wife and mom of three.