Greetings. Last Friday, the brilliant Jonathan Winters died at the age of 87. One of the most remarkable comedians of his era, Winters had an uncanny ability to improvise, innovate, and find humor in almost anything around him. Often by creating new voices and often without saying a word. And while countless stories have detailed his career, his creativity, the truly amazing band of misfit characters he invented, and the personal challenges he worked hard to overcome, I’d like you to think about one simple idea…

The power of making things up on the fly.

Once when asked why he preferred to improvise, Winters simply suggested that it was a lot easier to make things up than it was to remember his lines. And whether this was true or not, his sense of ease and imagination was the real gift of this comedy genius.

All too often in business and in life we allow ourselves to be led by a script, or a plan, or a set of meeting notes or bullets that define our world and frame our direction. Prearranged ideas that protect us from messing up and assure greater consistency by eliminating the guesswork and leaving nothing to chance. But that also limit our sense of spontaneity and possibility in a world that consistently demands fresh ideas, new energy, and quick rethinking of the things that matter most. In fact, our ability to improvise and even make things up on the fly is essential to our greater success.

To give you a sense of Jonathan Winters, check out this delightful improvisation using only a pen and pencil…

We win in business and in life when we challenge ourselves to improvise. And when we unlock brilliance and new possibilities in the slightest suggestion.