Just this morning I realized that it has been months since I sat through a boring meeting. Contrary to what you might expect, this was not a “good for you Susan” moment.
At the time of the realization, I was driving back to my home office after dropping my son off at preschool – mentally ticking off all the things I needed to do, and knowing there was no way in hell it was all going to get done. When I worked full time, for a company, in a real office – I’d often spend the first 30 minutes of every day “un-double/triple-booking” my calendar…so when, exactly, was it that I got all that other “stuff’ done that seemed impossible to knock out now???
Then it hit me – and I probably shouldn’t admit it – but what is not getting done is all the stuff I used to do during long boring meetings! In a long boring meeting, where your presence often seems to be more of a requirement than your attention, I got a lot of mindless or administrative stuff done. That I am admitting this is horrible – I know – but I also know, based on all of the typing on laptops and phones that is *not* taking of notes – that I am far from the minority.
So what’s different for me now and why?
I still have a lot of meetings. The problem is, when I have a meeting, my full attention is a requirement. I’m chasing down and exploring thought leadership, and it is intensely interesting to me. To be at all worthy of the time and attention of the party at the table or on the phone, I must be on my game the whole time. Not only that, I often need at least 30 minutes after each meeting just to process what I’ve learned and what to do with that new knowledge. Not to mention the benefits of a good nights sleep when you are learning at this pace.
By the way, my apologies to all who are waiting for me to get back to you “regarding availability” for a call or a meeting…I’m doing the best that I can, and I really do want to meet…just rest assured that when we finally do get something on the calendar, you will have my full and undivided attention!
It’s all very fun and cool, and yet I still worry – am I being more or less productive? Productivity has always been one of my strongest value points (see the quotes on my bio page?). If I am less productive, it feels like backwards personal progress. If I am getting fewer things knocked off my “to do” list than I used to – how can I say that I am more productive?
I just know that it feels really good to be super engaged and present in the moment with other human beings who share my passion and vocation. Not that I wasn’t passionate in my prior jobs, but it was more of an occasional job perk – like a treat – not an all day, every day thing. (Another thing I’m probably not supposed to admit…oops).
In the end, I guess it is this – I have always enjoyed learning. It’s not so much that I ever lost that desire, it’s just that to get to this awesomely intense learning place, I had to become vulnerable and take some some risks (also an adrenaline rush) that I wasn’t ready to take so whole heartedly (or so publicly) before.
These are specifically:
- Accept that I don’t know everything, or possibly anything (at the same time that I launch a consulting business, ha! How’s that for timing?)
- Understand that what I am seeking will only be found in the present moment (don’t ask me what I’m doing next year, I only have a fuzzy idea of that).
- Unleash a childlike curiosity on the world, the people around me and in my area of passion (at a time, mid 40’s, when I’m probably supposed to look more in charge and in control, like Colin Powell recommends in his 10 Tenets of Leadership).
But still, can I have at least one medium length boring meeting a week? Let me know if you’ve got one you would like me to sit in on ;-).
Upstream Insight was founded out of a true passion for understanding and improving all aspects of a consumer’s relationship with brands and retailers. We’re spending the next year looking for new, groundbreaking thought leadership – if not disruptive solutions – with the potential to redefine the parameters of consumer loyalty. If you also want to see some game changing happen -then contact or follow Upstream Insight, contribute your voice, debate with us…just do something!