We’re all inevitably shaped by our practices, the actions we take again and again as we navigate our way through our life, work and culture.
It is, as Aristotle said, that we become what we repeatedly do.
For good reason, most of us have endless practices that cultivate appropriateness. We practice what to say when, how to censor ourselves, how to appear acceptable to others and avoid embarrassment or shame or ridicule. And we rely on all of these to have our world be navigable and intelligible, to give us a sense of where we stand and what to expect when we’re with people.
But appropriateness and spontaneity are antagonistic to one another.
Appropriateness says “Not that, not now”. It’s an ally of the inner critic.
Spontaneity “I wonder what will happen if I do this?”
Appropriateness: “I’ll only speak when it’s safe.”
Spontaneity: “I’ll say what needs saying”.
Without spontaneity – the capacity to respond creatively to what’s needed right now, rather than what’s expected or has been done in the past – it’s harder to make your contribution, address the tough problems of your organisation, respond to difficulty, be courageous or support others fully. Without spontaneity how can you expect the extraordinary creativity and ingenuity available to you and those around you to find its place in the world?
And if you agree that you need it, what are you practicing to make it possible?
[if you’re interested in developing spontaneity, and don’t know where to start, you could join a comedy improv class, take up a martial art in which you spar with others, try freefall writing, take up an artistic practice, or become an explorer of the world around you]