I was reading a post the other morning about incorporating the rules of improv theater into guiding principles for life when I was stopped dead in my tracks by Rule #1. Accept All Offers.
In improv this is the idea that you accept whatever your stage partner offers up. You go with it and it keeps the story moving along. If you don’t it’s called blocking and tends to create a dead end.
Accept all offers. It’s a simple idea and yet it had never occurred to me to think of it in quite this way. The universe, is always making us offers and these offers come in all sizes:
- The sudden urge to drop into that store you’ve never been in before.
- That idea for a short story you had while taking your morning walk.
- The offer to slow down when you’re sick.
- The unexpected job offer.
- An invitation from people you don’t know very well.
Whether I ventured forward or made an abrupt left thinking that accepting an offer would be too hard or that I’m not ready the ‘offers’ have always flowed in, and whether or not I accepted them, they have almost always been valuable. Many of them have been amazing bolts of lightning. Like asteroids that seemed to fall right out of the clear blue sky. A couple of examples:
When I was nineteen, when Yoga was still a practice just done within the fringes of the babyboom generation, and no one I knew had done it or even really knew what it was, suddenly one day in my young adult angst I looked it up in the phonebook. Found a single one hour class offered in the attic of an office building with five other practitioners all at least twenty years older than me in sweat pants. What called me to yoga? I still don’t know. But yoga found me. And it has had an influence on my life ever since.
Another one? About fifteen years ago a girlfriend and I were trying to think of fun and creative ways to make money while scouting for boys. What excuse could we have to sit near surf spots without looking like our real intention was to snag a cute one out of the break? I didn’t even know that I knew how to cook yet, but we had a lightbulb idea one day about buying a food truck and driving it around making sandwiches and big burritos. Back then only authentic taco trucks operated this way and were often referred to as roach coaches. It was at least another ten years before the gourmet food truck movement emerged. We laughed at the ridiculousness of it and yet at the same time had a deep down inkling it was brilliant. We didn’t “accept the offer” but it appears thousands of people did! Where did that come from?
So many offers. Some taken and some not. But now that I think about it I am bowled over by how many ideas and possibilities have been laid at my feet. And continue to be. I think this is true for all of us. The universe whispers to us all the time. We can over rationalize and get so tuned in to the noise outside that we can’t hear these whispers. But when we do? Even the little ones. Let’s accept the offer. Just to see. Just to throw a big YES out and witness what comes back.
My new challenge to myself is to “accept all offers”. Of course it would may be impossible to do them all (see how that resistance raises up!) but I will give it an honest go.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
– Steve Jobs to the graduating class at Stanford 2005
And you?: What offers big or small have you had? Did you accept? Is it your practice to accept or do you tend to talk yourself out of it for the sake of being practical?
This post was inspired by this post over at One True Life. Thank you Heather.