I have a tendency to do things THE HARD WAY.
Perhaps this is because I have such high expectations of myself and my work. I want the finished product to be BETTER than anyone is expecting.
For this reason, I avoid tasks I can’t perform very well – like sewing. (My idea of HEAVEN is hemming with a glue gun). Or, I spend far more time on them than I probably needed to.
Over the past two-and-a-half weeks, the SCHOOL OF LIFE has tried to point this out to me a minimum of THREE TIMES.
LESS IS MORE – Lesson #1:
I did a one-hour workshop on Letting Go of Grief at the IWannaFeelGood Conference 2011 two weekends ago. Believe it or not, I spent THREE DAYS prepping for a sixty-minute presentation.
The first version I put together would have taken me FOUR HOURS to deliver. The second version wasn’t much better. The only way I could have crammed that into an hour would have been to do my best impression of an auctioneer.
With the exception of my PowerPoint slides – which consisted of a series of quotes that spoke to the various points I wanted to make – the scripted version I finally took with me to the conference IN NO WAY resembled the presentation I actually delivered.
As I stood at the front of that room and looked at the audience, I finally realized that I had made my presentation way TOO COMPLICATED.
This wasn’t supposed to be a university lecture. It was meant to be an HONEST DIALOGUE sharing my personal experiences and letting these women know how I had managed to get through the five stages of grief.
In that moment, I decided to simply TELL MY STORY and explain the strategies that had worked for me. That’s exactly what I did, and the talk was very well received.
Now, you would have thought that lesson was enough to teach me, wouldn’t you?
(Insert melodramatic sigh here).
LESS IS MORE – Lesson #2:
Last Tuesday night I was keynote speaker at a DynamicWomen.ca Dinner. Organized and hosted by Dawn Larsen of Navigator Marketing & Business Solutions, this evening was designed to bring dynamic women (hence the club’s title) together to discuss ways in which they can enrich their business and personal lives.
My talk was to be about the process of creating Chick Night, and the writing and publishing of The Beginner’s Guide to Chick Night™.
Here again, I spent far more time than I needed to on that script. After all, I had simply been asked to TELL MY STORY again.
As I stood at the front of that room and looked out at all those women, I realized they had not come here for a canned speech. They wanted interesting information and anecdotes about my experiences developing my Chick Night friendships and becoming a published author.
During the course of that sixty minutes, I shared far more of my personal feelings and experiences than I had written in my speech notes.
My willingness to speak freely was rewarded by a number of women in the audience who chose to share their stories and experiences during the question and answer period after my presentation.
They talked about how they do their own versions of Chick Night, who they choose as girlfriends, and how often they get together. It was wonderful.
You may be asking yourself why I chose to scrap a speech I had fully prepared? The answer is quite simply that in that moment, it FELT RIGHT to do so.
I know that making decisions based on emotions is generally frowned upon in business settings, however I have always believed that trusting my instincts makes sense. My executive coach, Jennifer Welsh refers to this as “using all the tools in my toolbox”.
Now, if I can just start using all my tools ALL THE TIME.
These were two very powerful lessons and I honestly thought I had FINALLY gotten it. Alas, I needed one more.
LESS IS MORE – Lesson #3:
I used to cook a lot more often than I have these last five years. I’m actually a pretty good cook, although I tend to go for the simple, yet tasty dishes that take half an hour or less to prepare.
For whatever reason, yesterday I decided that I would make beef bourguignon. Not just ANY beef bourguignon, I would make JULIA CHILD’S recipe. This is the one that takes more than an hour of preparation time, based on a set of instructions with a full ten steps. Then, it cooks for an additional four hours while you keep checking on it.
This morning, I dutifully assembled all the pots, pans, cutting boards, knives, spatulas, and ingredients called for in this recipe.
My kitchen counter was quickly covered with bags of onions, a pound of bacon I just finished cooking, my flour bin, a garlic clove, a carrot, a can of tomato paste, a bottle of red wine, three cans of beef broth, and assorted spices.
With no time to lose, I pulled back the butcher’s brown wrapping paper from the package of stew beef I thawed overnight in my fridge.
Then, and only then, was I reminded that the SCHOOL of LIFE likes to use HUMOUR as a teaching tool.
Inside that brown paper wrapper is a pound of ground hamburger.
I sure hope my son likes the hamburger-rice goulash he’s getting for dinner.