Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Eject the Core
In one sentence the speaker on the stage transformed my work.
While attending the 2014 National Speakers Association convention, I heard Eric Chester encourage the audience of professional presenters to throw out their PowerPoint and make each slide "earn its way back into the presentation". It sounds so simple, but these words have impacted me at a deeper level than Mr. Chester probably intended.
From that moment forward my business has begun to change. Each presentation I have given after that moment has become more crisp. Information that was "filler" is already gone, and some of the stories and audience exercises I have used for years are now in ongoing negotiations inside my head to determine their role in future presentations. A new course has taken shape, and I am removing all offerings that are not solidly anchored in my favorite areas of expertise.
Beyond the slides I am discovering it is time to examine other actions, relationships, beliefs, attentions, intentions, etc.... Many habits we embrace are security blankets that we cling to for ease and comfort, yet they are not the path to our most productive self. I am evaluating everything. This includes people. Maya Angelou said "never make someone a priority when all they are to you is an option". It is freeing to realize that you do not need to cling to people who sap your energy.
It can be a good thing to "eject the core". Releasing distractions and making a conscious decision on where to put energy allows for new directions. In the Star Trek series there are situations when the captain needs to have the crew jettison the warp core to save the ship. This is not done easily or without thought toward the long-term consequences, but if they do nothing there could be a full meltdown and the ship will be lost. While in our lives we may not have full warp breach, our future success can be enhanced by beginning anew. Saving the ship and having a fresh source of power will bring you to places nobody has gone before.
No change happens without a purposeful dedication to shifting perspective. In the short time since I heard Mr. Chester's advice I have spend most of my days looking at what parts of my world must be removed, reviewed and re-invented. Certain things stay intact, but other pieces of my "core" are ready to be replaced. Deciding what will "earn its way back in" will be an ongoing process. The core is being ejected, and the future is unclear.
It is exciting and also frightening. After achieving a certain level of success, and the idea of making changes could threaten everything. I want to grow beyond the plateau I have reached to conquer the next mountain. It is clear that what got me here wont get me there. I need to embrace the unknown that lies ahead and create new material.
Comedian Louis CK is said to regularly throw out his act and start over by creating new material. He supposedly learned this from studying the career of George Carlin, who avoided stagnation by requiring himself to recreate his act. What works for professional comics can also work for anyone. The reality can be that the best one has to offer is not necessarily what they are doing today. But we are not taught this in school. Our education system encourages completion of the course and then working with the skills you have mastered. There is little talk about what is next or how to get there.
The hardest part is getting the marketplace to notice the changes you are making. Some will want your old material, while others will assume all you do is what they witnessed in the past. People make decisions based on a limited view, but overtime as people around them change the reputations (good or bad) remain the same.
Ejecting the core is not easy and there is no "Starfleet Command" who will send supplies to rebuild your engines. You have figure it out all by yourself. I know, as feel as thought I am currently alone in deep space. Yet it is clear my best work is in the future, so it is fun to retool the whole system.
Have A Great Day