Thanks to Geoff Brown over at Yes and Space for recommending this unusual book about improvisation: “Everything’s An Offer: How to Do More With Less” by Robert Poynton. The first thing that struck me about it was the way it is written: you don’t notice it first, and then it creeps up on you. There’s a distinct lack of the usual “how-to” admonitions that you find in all business/life coaching books of today. It flows, but it doesn’t seem (at least in the first half) to be going anywhere. I kept asking myself: “This is interesting, but what’s the point?” Then, somewhere in the second half of the book, as you start “getting” it, you suddenly realize: that’s what is different about the book: it is written in an improvisational style, in order to make clear what the improvisational practice actually looks and feels like. For me, this was a big, loud wake-up moment. Yes, I have been pre-programmed by the publishing industry and its henchmen (agents and editors) to expect the “how-to” punch at the end of every book, the direct translation of theory into ten easy steps.

The book is a meandering, improvisational journey in which the author shares lessons learned during his work with companies on improvisation. It’s difficult to sum up, there’s no neat send off at the end encouraging you to distill his lessons into your chaotic everyday life. But it is fascinating, profound and thought-provoking. It challenges you to look at your own addiction to control in every aspect of life. And invites you to take a fresh look: problems should be seen as ‘offers’; every ‘offer’ deserves a ‘yes’, try to watch where acceptance of an offer can take you, instead of trying to control the outcome. Ultimately it is an offer to become mindful and to listen. But I really should read it again.

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