The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Wilson Murane '22 RGLP Reflection: Learning to Improvise

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For as long as I can remember, it’s been a personal mission of mine to be prepared for any and all situations. Growing up, I hated improvisation more than anything, rather preferring to spend an ungodly amount of time researching, practicing, or preparing in any way possible, to an unhealthy degree. For the longest time, my mindset was, “never walk into a situation blind.” In general, I tended to dislike unknowns. And in hindsight, this likely stemmed from fear of making a mistake, of being wrong, of not being the faultless brainchild my ego likes to think I am.

Over time, and certainly with the help of RGLP, I’ve learned to tolerate ambiguity. No matter how much I may dislike it, there are experiences in life that can only be dealt with as they come. In reality, the best way to learn is to be thrown in the deep end and forced to find a way to swim.

More and more, I’m intentionally throwing myself into cultural interactions where I can expect to make mistakes. RGLP has helped me learn how to approach situations I’m walking into blindly – how to listen effectively, analyze and accept any cultural differences that may present themselves, and pivot accordingly -  all without any prior knowledge of the event or people involved. I’ve learned to accept that my way of thinking isn’t always the right way – no matter how much I prepare, it’s imperative to understand that differences in patterns of thought and cultural norms are bound to occur in interpersonal relationships, school, and the workplace. That said, with empathy for other people and their backgrounds, experiences, and belief systems, a skeptical attitude towards my own belief systems, and an open ear, there’s no situation in which I can’t effectively improvise. Gone are the days of extensive contingency planning – I feel more comfortable than ever interacting in the moment with other cultures, varying mental frameworks, and idea and value systems that are foreign to me, while still maintaining a strong sense of self.

Written by Wilson Murane, a member of the Winter 2021 Cohort of the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences