In business and life, many of us utilize such things as to-do lists, agendas, schedules, time-keeping apps, etc. This is because today’s culture is nonstop at trying to maintain a work-life balance. Oftentimes we do our best to plan our time accordingly in an effort to make each transition into the next situation as smooth as possible and get the most out of our day. As business people, we strive to make the flow of business effective, but sometimes hiccups unexpectedly occur in our plans, leaving us no choice but to improvise in order to make the situation work.
Let’s first examine the word improvise. It is defined as a way to make or create (something) by using whatever is available. In other words, make something up. That’s not always easy to do depending on the situation. To improvise can be stressful, awkward, or even exciting because, in any case, you’re trying a new approach spontaneously. But, nonetheless, in executing this action, you are still deviating from your original plan or set of expectations.
Because the idea of change—even on a small scale—can be a fear factor, some might argue that being made to improvise is ultimately a challenge to be our best selves—pushing us to perform without preparation, to think fast, and overall be effective problem solvers. If we think about it this way, improvising is essentially a character development tool. And our characters are indeed tested on a daily basis.
We’ve all been there; caught off guard and finding ourselves having to put together the pieces of a suddenly broken puzzle. Perhaps an employee called out at the last moment on a high-traffic day; maybe your inventory was unexpectedly low and you did not have the main ingredient necessary to make the premiere recipe you anticipated for your “special of the day;” perhaps you received a bad review from a disgruntled customer, or an important delivery came a day too late. Whatever the circumstance, it is out of your control. Therefore, it will not serve you well to default to a sense of worry, but instead, stay calm and take action.
Have you ever looked at a film or video taken with a shaky hand, as opposed to one filmed under steady conditions? Which option allows you to focus and understand what you are seeing? The video taken with a steady hand, of course. Staying cool under pressure is key to understanding exactly what you need to do to improvise most effectively. The solution is easier to realize and the recovery process is much less stressful.
Circumstances outside of our control have the power to disorient us from our initial point and the grace that we need to see it through. But only if we let it. Remember, even the most meticulous planner will encounter issues alien to their immediate vision. The idea is to take into account all of your resources to ensure you always have a plan B, because when in tight conditions, you have to make the best situation out of what you have.