The Rule of Agreement

January 28, 2011 at 3:51 am 1 comment

Last night I blogged about ACT – Acceptance Commitment Therapy, and tonight I had an interesting conversation with my friend, Christine, about the Rule of Agreement highlighted in the book Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell.  Christine swears that this one concept revolutionized her work life and continues to improve her relationship to others today.

“One of the most important of the rules that makes improv possible, for example, is the idea of agreement, the notion that a very simple way to create a story – or humor – is to have characters accept everything that happens to them. … Bad improvisers block action, often with a high degree of skill. Good improvizers develop action.”

Christine asserts that by learning to “agree” with everything that comes her way and then simply add to it, that creative energy continues to flow in the brainstorming process.  It applies in business and in every day life.

The moment I internally or externally say “no” to someone or to my own thoughts, it is as if a door to resourceful creative flow closes and refuses open again until the “critic” is at bay.

I noticed this happen internally today as I was experiencing a slurry of funny ideas for a project I’d like to collaborate with a few friends on.  One after the other, ideas were flowing, so many I couldn’t get them all down… three were on the tip of my tongue (or pen in this case, as I was jotting them on paper) and I noticed that I thought, “oh, I can’t use that idea, it’s too negative.” and wooosh! like magic, the other two ideas were gone… I never remembered what they were to write them down.  And they were good, too!  Ever had that happen?  It made me see the value of allowing all thoughts to come and then letting the best ones rise to the top.

This reminds me of ACT simply because agreement with everything is another way of saying accepting everything that comes into my life without judging it.  It also relates very strongly to my training as an Inspired Learning Facilitator.  The Inspired Learning Foundation acknowledges that for learning to take place a safe space of acceptance must be present.  Just think of how many students are labeled ‘stupid’ or ‘learning challenged’ to use a PC term and remain trapped in below average performance because they are simply shut down.  It reminds me of a story told by Catherine Cadden, author of Peaceable Revolution Through Education, when a teacher belittles a child for coloring a banana brown saying, “Everyone knows bananas are yellow,” when in reality, bananas do turn brown when they are older, and they are brown when dipped in chocolate, and perhaps they are brown in low lighting.  If only that teacher had read Blink, perhaps she would have been open to bananas of all colors and that little boy would still feel safe in the creative process.  I digress…

So I’m curious… What is your experience with this?  What memories does this conjure?  Have you noticed any ways that you currently are blocking the flow of creative energy in your work, home or life? What strategies have you successfully used to open that creative flow back up? I’d love to hear any stories you have about practicing this Rule of Agreement and the results!  Please comment below!

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ACT – Acceptance Commitment Therapy The Happiness Project

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Rebekah  |  January 31, 2011 at 6:08 am

    This isn’t exactly related but I just wanted to say you can ask for the ideas back. It’s not like once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. Same thing if a bunch of ideas are coming late at night, instead I pray to remember them in the morning so I can sleep. And they do. =) I guess I just wanted to say nothing is permanent.

    Reply

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