Tossing out the script

During that whirlwind of destruction and letting go that I mentioned last week, I came across a marketing piece I wrote over 10 years ago when I started my business.

It outlined the process of how I worked with clients, and spelled out each step: session one we do this, session two we do that, and so on and so forth.

It was kind of like finding an ancient document, coffee stained and frayed at the edges. And as I sat down to decipher it, I realized that back then I’d tried to write a script for not only what I do, but for how my clients were going to react and progress in our work together.

This made me smile, because as it turns out, my work is so not like this.

Somewhere along the way I remembered (thankfully) that everyone is unique. You’re always growing, changing, shifting. You can’t be boxed in to some preconceived script. And certainly, I’m unique too. So when our individual chemistries collide and combine and coalesce, who knows what the outcome will be?

But that’s the beauty of this thing I do.

The most profound insights and meaningful changes come when we take a risk, toss out the script, and jump in. That seems to be a truism in my work, and often in life, too.

Still, I understand that it can be scary.

New clients often want that script. They want to know how things will play out. So I try to listen for their deeper needs, those that are below the fear and worry. Then together we dip into a big pot of possibilities, creating not so much a structure, but more a pattern for the shared improvisation that will come in our work together.

In the end I’ve come to learn that improvising together this way is a wondrous thing. And we miss a lot when we stick too closely to the script.

How about you? What opportunities do you have to toss out the script and improvise?

11 thoughts on “Tossing out the script

  1. Patty,

    I loved how you described this “process” of discovering the “non-process” of working with people. I tossed out the script a long time ago. I’ve been improvising for quite awhile. Sometimes it gets rather scary, but I don’t think I can go back to script. I just have to trust that I will find my way:~)

    • Yes, me too Sara! I can’t go back either. This past year I tossed out the script even more, realizing that I don’t need to know the answers or try to figure out how things will go. Scary but liberating.

  2. Hi Patty!

    I love shared improvisation. Beautifully stated. We need more improve and less rigid structure. It’s derailing the country. If I see the word rigorous associated with education once more I’m going to scream. God, what does that mean? Overplanning – to me – is a fear of getting started, of taking a leap, of jumping and building wings on the way down as I think Ray Bradbury said or something like that.

    We need more meandering through life.

    Thanks! G.

  3. I would say “throwing out the script” is most important, for me, in the area of romantic relationships — those can only, in my experience, be fulfilling if they include a lot of risk-taking, and getting comfortable in a relationship causes suffering, even though on the surface the opposite appears to be true.

  4. I find in my writing coaching that sometimes people want me to tell them what’s going to happen. We’ll start here, and go here and then here and so on. But it doesn’t ever work like that! And thank God for that and for the fact that the creative process is wonderful and wild and totally unpredictable.

  5. I don’t know what happened to my comment but let me try again:

    I think that a need for a script comes from insecurity and needing a sense of control — or at least some sense of being able to contain a situation. But rather than pretending we’re actors, we’re improvisers in life. So much of the authenticity we express and the profound ways we are moved comes from winging it, being alive and feeling, acting, reacting, responding to what’s happening around us. So yes, count me in as an unscripted imrpoviser 🙂

  6. It’s that sense of control, or feeling of being able to contain a situation. It’s quite an illusion, isn’t it, this script thing, because the truth is, we’re not actors, we’re real-life improvisers who act/react/respond. The most I can do is to trust that I’ll have the wherewithal to wing it

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