I play saxophone in a combo – I’m the only horn. I come in with the melody – after we’ve improvised – with authority and confidence. My teacher tells me, “come in strong whether or not you’re right. The band will adjust. Better than hesitating and coming in weak.”
I thought about this when I was in a meeting the other day with a labor lawyer and benefits consultant. They both sounded authoritative and confident – and had opposite opinions. I spent as much time watching the strength of their presentation as thinking about whether their advice was right for the agency.
I recall that my 17-year-old cousin recently expounded about the biology of memory with authority and confidence: “You sure speak with authority and confidence,” I noted. “Sure,” he said with a proud smile, “I’m on the debate team!”
Authority and confidence and being right – not necessarily connected.
As a nurse I watch the expression of authority and confidence often from professionals and see how it affects people at the center of care and their caregivers. It’s hard to separate strength from right. One of the reasons I’ve chosen my doctors is that they can sound authoritative and confident, but they engage me in the question of what’s right for me.
A wise person once advised me, “when someone speaks to you with force, either positive or negative, imagine blue smoke coming from their mouth. Let the blue smoke pass you by before you consider the words generating that smoke.” 🙂
Why improv and health? Health is unique, of the moment, a journey. A different possible riff every moment. Successful maneuvering the roller coaster of dis-ease depends on religious taking care of what is well with your instrument; on you and your team dynamics; on the predictability and responsiveness of the tune: systems and infrastructure through which you journey; listening for the germ of truth in yourself, your caregivers, and professionals. Best health seeks simplicity: values, mission, common sense and of course chutzpah when you can afford it. The rest is commentary.
How is your health improv?
- Listen first, play next
- Know the underlying tune
- Keep my place
- If nothing else, feel the rhythm
- Less is more
- A good sound beats dexterity
- Forget it all and have fun
- Listen first, act next
- Excel as a team member on a good team
- Know the goal and the related systems
- Keep it simple
- Enjoy life