If you want to become more creative, the answer may lie in becoming more courageous. A new class at USC Annenberg called Improvisational Leadership is encouraging students to step outside of their comfort zones and explore new experiences.

The Improvisational Leadership class is designed to expose students to new experiences, making them more creative by expanding their frames of reference. The class is 100% experiential, with no tests, textbook, or papers. Creativity can be learned, but not through lectures or reading, says Cook. “It has to be learned through doing,” he says.

Cook’s exercises are working, says Cynthia Blondeel-Timmerman, an undergraduate public relations major enrolled in Cook’s class. “Fear can stop you from accomplishing incredible things,” she says. “I am someone who is afraid of failure, so learning about the different ways to conquer my fears was very enlightening.”

“What surprised me most was how much life opens up when you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone,” she says. “You never know where a door leads, and you can only find out if you go through it,” she says.

Becoming courageous and creative doesn’t happen overnight, says Cook. “It builds up a little at a time by doing new things and trying things you’ve never done before,” he says. “Every little step pushes you out of your comfort zone. I’ve seen students do things they never thought they could do before. They’re nervous, but they do it because it’s an assignment. The next time is easier. The goal is to become more creative, courageous leaders.”

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