Discovery Not Invention – Success Secret Revealed

In improv comedy, students are taught to discover not invent. Invention works great in movies and tv-shows where talented experienced writers thoughtfully and strategically invent a script for actors to read. Since improv comedy isn’t scripted, rather based on an audience suggestion, an improviser must be willing to make discoveries. A great improviser is willing to walk on stage without any planned lines or actions in mind. Once on stage an improviser has to focus on being in the moment, or rather present minded. This freeing state of mind allows the improviser to start seeing a setting for the scene based on past experiences and associations the brain made with the audience suggestion. Building on that small discovery an improviser then comes up with a line appropriate for that setting. A few lines in a row and the improviser has discovered a full dialog. While this might sound complicated it’s rather simple all it requires is the willingness to step on stage, and take the risk of looking like a fool.


When compared with discovery, invention is too much work, it requires great ideas that are thoughtfully organized and presented. Invention works great for certain activities such as planning goals and prioritizing. However discovery is essential for other activities like learning new skills or pursuing new endeavors. Discovery simply defined is learning by doing. It requires one to take the first action step right away to learn from the success or failure that results. A good example is an employee who’s thinking about starting their own business on the side. The employee can do tons of research, and market analysis however they have no idea what they are in for until they actually take the first step such as contacting a potential client. Many people actually get stuck in the “invention” stage excessively researching the market, trying to create a bulletproof business plan, end up feeling overwhelmed and never actually start the business. While planning is important for any business idea to succeed, the willingness to learn by doing is equally essential. One must start taking action steps, one step at a time learning from each failure and success. This doesn’t mean that one should having a gambling mentality and hope they’ll just get lucky and succeed. It just means to come up with a quick simple plan and put it into action right away, preferably taking the first action step now. This eliminates procrastination and increases the chances of following through.

To discover one must accept failure as a prerequisite to success. Those who achieve the most have generally tried and failed the most. One’s ability to persevere through failure, accepting it as a learning experience, is a very accurate indicator of their future success. Failure is how one internalizes many of life’s greatest lessons. Failure is also what builds character and tests persistence. Discovery can’t be avoided, it’s a natural part of learning a new skill or pursing a worthy cause. Being conscious and aware of the discovery process, one can use it intentionally to their advantage.