Years ago, when I did an improv theater workshop, I learned that the secret to this medium was to accept the premise. If a fellow improv actor says that you and a stranger have been stranded on Mars, accept that to be true and start acting from there. Don’t argue about how you got there or why – just focus on what’s next.
Recently a dear friend of mine was given a challenging medical diagnosis. She and those who love her had been waiting anxiously to discover the cause of her strange set of symptoms, and when they came, we all wanted to ask why and how.
She and her husband sent a letter to friends and family, explaining the diagnosis, the prognosis and the steps they would take to manage her condition. At the end of the email, she signed off with the words: It is what it is.
Her response to an unanticipated event – a life-altering disease – is worthy of admiration and a “note to self.” Her statement, “It is what it is,” were not the words of someone who wants to give up, nor the words of a victim. Both of those stances would have been understandable. No, she is accepting the premise and asking, “Okay, what’s next?”
So when the unexpected comes and taps you on the shoulder (and it will!), take a lesson from my friend and from improv:
Accept what is, and then get busy asking and doing what’s next!