The Most Critical Skill for 2018: Agility

AGILITY: Noun – Nimbleness. or The ability to think and draw conclusions quickly; intellectual acuity.

Every industry we serve, every leader I coach, every team I work with is talking about agility. There is no place in the world left where you can sit back on your laurels, and be happy with “how we’ve always done it.”

Andry Kunov, Ph.D. and Founder of the Silicon Valley Center for Innovation predicts, “Based on economic projections and history, in 10 years, we predict that 40% of the Fortune 500 will be gone.” No one wants to be in one of those companies unable to change, adapt and flourish!

The disruption and change occurring across the globe demands people and minds who are ready to be flexible, creative, collaborative and agile.

What do you know! That sounds like improv.

So as we head into 2018, I want to give you a leg up on agility.

Agility and improv

Guess how improvisers remain agile? Believe it or not, we prepare endlessly.

Improvisers are the most over-rehearsed people in the performance industry. Since our show is different every night, since we have to be ready to cover countless skills and endless possibilities, we explore and practice as many as possible. 

That preparation allows us to remove our brains from the hard work of processing skills moment by moment, and allows us to sing, dance, speak in accents, make jokes and perform characters effortlessly.

That way, our higher-functioning brain can access ideas about overall shape of a show, react to audience cues and come up with ideas that (on really good nights) border on brilliance.

Now that’s agility. So my question to you is, how much do you prepare?

  • Do you think about the first sentence you’ll say in a critical one-on-one with your boss? That first impression, even with someone who knows you, has impact.
  • Do you practice presentations out loud and on your feet? Whispering to yourself in the car is NOT the same thing as real practice.
  • Do you read all the material you need, and make a list of potential questions, before heading into a negotiation?
  • Taking the time to put yourself in the shoes of the people on the other side of the table just might allow you to react in an agile manner, rather than being taken by surprise.
Preparation is key

Have you ever heard the old saying, “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation?” It refers to the fact that many humble (and PR-smart) people over the centuries have humbly said that their big break came because of “luck.”

As if anyone could have achieved that same moment, if only all the stars aligned in the same way. Not true.

I love definitions, so here’s another from Merriam-Webster, “Luck: the things that happen to a person because of chance: the accidental way things happen without being planned.”

However, when considering what “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation” really means, is the fact that when people work very hard, prepare a great deal, practice incessantly – when the moment comes that the agent or CEO is in the room, they can be agile in the moment and perform perfectly.

Preparation is part of agility.

Make a promise to yourself to prepare more in 2018, and you’ll find that you are able to handle those last-minute situations in an agile, and impressive, manner.

Happy holidays, best wishes for 2018, and keep improvising!

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.