Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Were You Thinking?

You may be already jumping to a conclusion with the title of this post that I must be addressing you with this rhetorical question. The "you" is really me and perhaps us all at some point.

I had a conversation with someone today about the fear of making the "wrong" decision. Rather than tell you her story, let me turn to my own. Every day I give folks advice on what next move to make, or how to move forward. I work with the information I have at the time. Every time I do this I am working with several elements:
  • Knowledge of their "landscape" or situation as they present it to me,
  • Knowledge of the different elements in play (i.e. the creative process, or monetary concerns)
Then the last and least quantifiable:
  • My intuition.
What I am thinking, feeling and perceiving about what client might do changes as the information changes and "updates". Therefore, what I am thinking at any given time is subject to change. Scary? It shouldn't be for you and it's not for me. If my ability to change with you and your scenario is not flexible and my approach fluid, you'll be getting yesterday's news.

The part that I am still learning myself everyday is to have less "sentimentality" about my ideas and plans. Letting my ego take the back seat on what I thought was such a great idea "before". I believe that in order to succeed you need to have a balance of the ability to go with the flow, but to work like all get-out to make real your dreams.

The visual for me on this one is from years of canoeing:
When you're going down a river and there's some white water, you're moving pretty fast. The boat actually goes down the river on a diagonal. The person in back is steering and the person in front calls out rocks that appear as if from nowhere. We call them "sucker rocks" the water flows smoothly over them, making them virtually invisible.

What happens when the person steering is caught off guard and needs to make a quick correction in order to not get hung up on the rocks is some crazy-fast reverse paddling. Your heart's pounding. The boat (hopefully) grinds to a halt in the fast water. You quickly yank the canoe around the obstacle with sheer brute force of paddle. There is no room for a second thought or a delay in action. No halfhearted attempts allowed. No time to blame the river, the paddle or your partner up front. You just have to do it.

Sound familiar? I hope it does. What was I thinking? Depends on when you ask me. Depends on how I'm reading that river. Depends on what the person in the front of the boat is telling me. Depends on what I'm seeing for myself, up ahead.

Don't spend your time weeping over your last wrong move. Keep moving!

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