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2022: Humanity

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Our greatest opportunity for a positive future will not come from technology, science or politics.

It will come from our humanity.

Our humanity makes us beautiful and complicated - simultaneously the most innovative and destructive force on this planet.

Reflecting on the change and challenge of the past 24 months, I look around me to see who’s handling changes well, and it’s the people who start with their humanity and make decisions from there. After 22+ months of pandemic, conversation and engagements with leaders on four continents, plus thousands of hours of internal and external research, it’s never been more clear:

To move forward positively, all our decisions should be based in the deepest kindness of our humanity.

We are exhausted, burnt out, in mourning, marginalized, at odds with our neighbors and unsure of the future of our health and the planet. And, every day, we’re making really big and really tiny decisions.

In the midst of all this, can we change the way we make decisions, to keep our humanity in sight?

I think we can. 

As a lifelong improviser, the instinct to adapt, change and jump is in my DNA and has both served and hurt me at times. Despite the tough moments I’ve endured because of my rash choices, I’d still rather make a decision and move forward than languish.

Here are four ways we can think about humanity in our decision-making:

  • Pause. This simple step is often the most powerful. In our work centered on equity and inclusion, we share that a real pause allows us to breathe, assess the room (or virtual room), and check in with our values before speaking. Silence and pausing also allow space for lesser-heard voices to speak up.
  • Find Empathy. Many of our disagreements and stresses stem from an inability to step into another person’s shoes. In the pause, can you imagine yourself in another situation? Realizing that many are hiding pain and confusion opens us up to possibility.
  • Differences Matter. As an Advocate and Activator, it is my job to shoulder the task of understanding our differences and often painful experiences of others – then stand up for a more equitable world. When I can both understand and respect our differences and look for our commonalities, then I can connect with real authenticity and respect. It’s the lesson of Team Equity, a core improv concept.
  • Ask an open-ended question. Then just listen. Most of our questions are simply for confirmation, rather than learning. If we see the humanity in the other person, can we be present to just listen, without assumptions or preconceived notions?

Improvisers must keep their humanity at the forefront of their work. When you hide behind ego, or refuse to acknowledge the reality onstage, everyone knows. And, the work isn’t funny, authentic or engaging.

When many are distancing, more need to lean in. Remember your humanity.

 

Karen Hough is the Founder & CEO of ImprovEdge. Her company is in the top 4% of woman-owned businesses in the US and won the Stevie Award for Most Innovative Company of the Year. She is a #1 Amazon bestselling author, board trustee, Yale grad, wife and mom of three.