People often ask how we get so much done at Creating the Future with so little staff. In addition to a combination of elbow grease and Creating the Future’s frameworks (the intent of which are to accomplish amazing things), a big part of our productivity is due to my need for prioritizing and triage. If I don’t have a list in front of me, in order of importance, I don’t do well.
Not surprisingly, then, my quest to accomplish more than humanly possible during this sabbatical began with my prioritizing which projects to do in what order, complete with due dates – the list I posted here last week.
Project #1 began last week, writing a blog post to explain our thoughts about funding Creating the Future, so that I can begin having sleuthing conversations about the demonstration project we’re envisioning.
I began as I begin every project – using Creating the Future’s causality framework to first reach for the highest potential outcome of the project – the real goal. Then I identified all the favorable conditions that would pave the way for that outcome to become reality. From there, the writing would flow easily, because the purpose of the writing would be clearly defined – write stuff that creates X, Y and Z conditions, to create that ultimate outcome.
The ultimate high-potential result of our funding initiative was easy to identify, simply by asking over and over, “What will that make possible?” The pre-conditions for that success came easily as well.
The problem is, for each of those conditions to become reality – all of which is necessary for the ultimate success of the project – I would need to write not one post but eight posts. One of those posts had been such a low priority it didn’t even make the list I shared last week. Suddenly, that low priority post is #1 on my list.
Here’s an insight: Creative people may go through good days and bad days of productivity, but one constant is how good we are at kicking ourselves. My brain immediately went from, “Oh good, I’ve got my marching orders,” to…
“You always overthink everything!”
“Just write that one post – you’re making this more complicated than it has to be!”
“Ugh this will never get done. I don’t even know where to start now!”
And then finally, “STOP this right now!”
Breathe. Meditate. Take a walk. Work on something else for a few days.
Which is what I did. And as it does when we give it space, clarity began to arrive. I know where to start. I’ve smiled to feel for myself what we teach our fellows – that if we put in the work up front, the actual work of the project (in this case, the sleuthing conversations and ultimately finding partners) will glide into place as if by magic. It’s what is meant by “going slow to go fast.” Importantly, though, if we fail to put in that up front work and just go for it, we doom ourselves to live the trendy mantra of Fail Fast, feeling like the reality is Fail Fast and Fail Over and Over.
As I took time to breathe and read and breathe some more, I smiled to find this quote from Pema Chodron’s book “Start Where You Are.”
“I have found that if we can possibly use anything we hear against ourselves, we usually do.” ~Pema Chodron
So instead of spending 2 days penning one post, I’ll spend the next few weeks penning a bunch of posts. And instead of beginning sleuthing conversations now, I’ll start in August.
The difference then will be that all the pieces will be in place, which means that it won’t need to just be me doing the sleuthing. Creating the Future’s board and Operations Team – they will all have the information that today resides only in my head. Going slow to go fast wins again.
The end result wil lbe powerful and will make the work not only easier but more able to be shared. This is all GOOD!
The self-kicking voice says, “What about everything else on the list? Will that all get done now? Yes, when you initially prioritized, you knew some of it likely wouldn’t get done. But now that is becoming more and more real!”
No matter how amazingly good the product, no matter how much it accomplishes, we humans really are lousy at celebrating, and pros at kicking ourselves.
Perhaps it’s time to put “CELEBRATE” at the top of my priority list, and work at accomplishing that.
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