July 07, 2014

Learning from improv – Moving Onwards.

Last week, I attended a Second City Training Centre event which featured Improv legend Colin Mochrie. It was just my luck. I signed up when all the seats were reserved and was placed on waiting list. Some no-shows and voila! I found myself sitting first row. I rarely get to meet celebrities in life and ones that I actually know of. When I attended those big  architecture guest lectures in college, I usually end up in overflow rooms. Afterwards, even approaching "starchitects" was very intimidating.

After being stuck in university for 6 years, I decided to pause my traditional architectural career path and pause on an M.Arch because I wanted to learn something that is unrelated to Architecture...like Improv. I wanted to work on myself before pushing forward.  It's been a few months of taking comedy classes and the more I took classes and attended the events, a lot of the rules of improv are life lessons I want to apply in my professional life.

Anyways, I thought I would share some of the themes covered in the interview because it is applicable to any aspiring designer. Coming from creative and competitive fields, we will always be riding ups and downs and in-betweens and must be ready to cope and deal both failure and success.

Move on from failure and let go of bitterness: 
I struggled with this in architecture school. Failure has the power to get into your head and weigh you down. At some point you have to move on from the bitterness it brings. For me, it is something I am working on and hope to overcome. Taking Improv class is confronting me to be free and move beyond failure quickly and get out of my head for a change. It’s my therapy to unlearn the bad habits I acquired from struggling in design school. Once you let the mistakes get in your head, you lose focus and being in the moment when improvising and I have personally experienced how it was held back my ability to progress when I was in architecture school. I was so cautious and worried that I lost focus an the task at hand. So learn from your failures, but let them go and move on.

Stay Busy: 
For any improviser starting off, the only way to get better is to keep playing and give yourself more practice time to work on your craft. Never forget the importance of always finding the time to hone your skills. As a recent grad that plans to go for my M.Arch in a few years, I am confronted with those issues of feeling ready and feeling adequate. The only way to deal with it in the moment is to be proactive and make the most learning at work, and doing things outside of work like design projects and competitions.  
Be ready when opportunity knocks: 
Similar to Steve Job’s idea of having faith that the dots will connect themselves and that the only way to tell is after the fact. Keep doing what you’re doing so you are equipped with the skills you need when the right opportunity knocks. I do not know where my architecture career will take me in the future and as much as I have taken quite an interest and hobby in Comedy and Acting I am at a point where I am not sure where all of this is leading towards. However, I hope that intertwine into a career that I love. The goal is to be ready when that door knocks and the only way to do that is to keep building up your skill set and acquiring new skills. That’s what will make you marketable and distinct from the rest of your competition. 
Anyways, I know these are things that many design students may struggle in. I'm also struggling with and coming to terms with. But I hope this inspires all of you aspiring underdog students. Cheers.

My M.Arch Detour: Improv Comedy!
More to the world outside of Architecture.
An Evening on Failure

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