Making A Case For The Open Mic

I recently went to an open mic night with my husband, who is a regular at this particular spot. Over the past year, after 10pm on a Thursday night, rain or snow, he has ventured out for a few hours even after a long day at work. He often will share stories of new musicians, particular songs that caught on, and interesting conversations he had with the regular crew that he’s come to know. It’s a creative outlet for sure, but beyond that it’s a community that he’s grown to love.

What struck me as a non-musician in the crowd, and as someone working with leaders and teams to deepen relationships and enhance impact, was the safe space that was palpable in the room. Here was a group of regulars, but also some new additions, all there to share something they’d been working on. It was an opportunity for artists to practice and also get a feel from the crowd for what was being developed.

In organizations and on teams, people often hear encouragement to try new things, be open to fail, etc.  Given that human beings have a nervous system designed to prevent failure, putting ourselves out there when we aren’t certain of the response is one of the hardest things we can do. That’s why failing with new material or ideas needs to be reframed and an open mic night is a wonderful model. 

Translate to the business world. While it’s not likely that everyone can orchestrate an open mic night at the office, I am inviting you to consider what can be learned from the paradigm – both the sharing of self as well as the building of community. The value of being able to share new thoughts and ideas in an open and safe space is immeasurable.  

We are social animals who can learn new things, integrate new information and develop ourselves. Perhaps all we need is to add some fun with a new context for sharing!