Updated: August 21, 2015


Practice celebrating failure.



Working iteratively


  1. You and your partner are going to count collaboratively to three repetitively and as quickly as possible. This works best in-person, but can be done over the phone as well. The first person starts by saying, “One!”
  2. The second person says, “Two!”
  3. The first person says, “Three!”
  4. Now the second person starts over with, “One!” If either of you miscounts, make the celebratory noise of your choice, then start over. Do this several times for at least a few minutes.
  5. Repeat the exercise, except instead of saying, “One!”, clap your hands. Say “Two!” and “Three!” as before. Same celebratory rules apply. Do this at least a few minutes.
  6. Quickly debrief with your partner:
    • How did it feel?
    • How are you feeling right now?
    • What did you learn?

Design Notes

1-2-3 is a classic improv game. It’s a great warmup for stretching your innovation and creativity muscles.

At its core, it’s simply a fun and funny exercise. It’s excellent practice for recognizing and celebrating failure as part of a process, not something to be ashamed of or to beat yourself up about.

It’s also a way to stretch your brain and to realize the value of kinesthetic learning. The exercise is hard, because it prevents you from falling into a simple pattern. However, with practice and by incorporating movement, you can train yourself to do this exercise rapidly and skillfully.


  • Repeat the clapping variation, but substitute “Two!” by putting your hands on your knees. (Or, if you’re doing this by phone, by clapping twice.) Do this several times, then substitute “Three!” by doing a little wiggle (or, if you’re doing this by phone, by clapping three times.) Do this several times, then try the original exercise (saying “One!”, “Two!”, “Three!”). Debrief.