Do you ever have one of those days when you were supposed to be ready with something but ran out of time? Perhaps it was a presentation you wish you worked on a little longer…or a special dinner you wanted to prepare, but you forgot an ingredient at the grocery store? Then you might get all worked up and nervous that the result is going to be horrible…but in the end, it‘s not. All that worrying was for nothing.
Yeah, me, too. That’s what happened today.
I am a preparer…sometimes even an overpreparer. I like to have a deep understanding of context and big picture because, in my experience, when you understand the big picture, the details naturally take shape.
When interviewing people for podcasts and videos, I not only review the questions I am going to ask our expert, I also make sure that I have a working understanding of the topic so that I can have an intelligent conversation that includes follow-up questions and relevant remarks.
Similarly, before our monthly Bottom Line dinners with our experts, I review each guest’s bio and prepare a list of questions for discussion during dinner…and I still worry that I will forget all their names and affiliations.
I make myself crazy before these events worrying about my performance…staying up late creating outlines…and like all Type-A overachievers, I never feel truly ready.
Then…guess what? It all goes just fine. Not only that, it even goes fine on the days when I am not as prepared as I would have liked to have been.
How can that be? I always need to be not just Boy Scout–prepared, but Eagle Scout–prepared, right? Well, maybe not.
Life-changing moment…several years ago, when I was still new to hosting a radio show, a scheduled guest was a no-show. Not only that, he was supposed to discuss a highly technical topic that I was not really familiar with. I had already teased the topic, so I was obligated to talk about it.
OMG—I unexpectedly had to fill a 20-minute segment. What would I say? How would I fill the time? I panicked.
But then something magical happened…I started talking, and from somewhere deep inside, wisdom came out and the segment went really well. It was different than planned but still good.
Wow…where did that come from?
Athletes know that they perform better when they relax, get out of their own heads and play from the heart and body. Dancers, too—when a dancer thinks about the steps, the tension shows all over his/her face. When he feels the music, he flows. If you’re a Dancing with the Stars fan, then you know what I mean. In the early weeks, especially, you can see the stars thinking through their routines as they dance,
Well, the same holds true in most areas of life, and that is one of the great parts of aging. Assuming that we pay attention, we all have far more knowledge and understanding than we give ourselves credit for. Wisdom accumulates, and if we trust ourselves, something intelligent generally comes out.
I am in no way recommending “winging your way” through life. Success really does take hard work and preparation. But over time, it’s nice to notice the experience, knowledge and wisdom that accumulate and are available for ready access.
A while back, I did a podcast with acclaimed geriatric psychiatrist Dr. Marc Agronin about his book The End of Old Age. We talked a lot about the accumulation of wisdom as we age and how it improves decision-making and creativity.
We just have to trust that it’s in there—trust that we know more than we give ourselves credit for…and trust our soul to deliver, despite the mental fears and distractions, and simply let ourselves perform.
One other thing…your audience (or dinner guests) has no idea what your original plan was, so if you skip a part in your speech or change the menu for that special dinner at the last minute, your audience will still applaud.