I’ve continued to noodle the previous post about stretching in new ways in order to grow – and I’ve gotten a lot of great counsel from friends and family. Interestingly the answer is suddenly so clear to me that I’m not at all sure why I didn’t think of this immediately. It’s my favorite decision making helper/trick ever (or at least that I’ve discovered yet). I call it “How much?” Technically I think it’s quantifying the problem or the solution to make it a ‘choice-based’ or a more factual decision – rather than a hand-wringing sleep-losing mess of “whatever will I do” – which I’m also pretty good at creating. It can be applied to nearly everything in some form or another – and while it doesn’t provide the answer - it almost always makes the choices and, ultimately, the best choice much clearer.
I asked myself the question “How much of my time would I spend doing these other ‘growth’ oriented activities? 100%? 10%? 50%?” The answer? Well, I get paid to ‘keep the lights on’ running my campaigns and I’m not ready to walk away from those completely at this time so that makes 100% not the answer. [even this part of the exercise is useful as I get to the ‘I’m not ready for a complete change’ answer] 10% is too little to be useful on other work, I think. Even 50% seems too high. Seems like – just reacting from my gut – that if I were going to go do some other activities I’d be willing to do that about 25% of my total working time. And you know what ? I’m TOTALLY willing to do that. Unless the 25% involves calculus or pounding nails into my toes (yes, these two things are about equal in my eyes in terms of discomfort) I’m even thinking it could be a refreshing change. So the answer is that I offer to participate in a new & different kind of project but not to ‘lead’ the work. Perhaps I am a member of a team looking at the future of the business or the market opportunity – something outside my comfy and creative little bubble. This week I communicated my offer/decision to my management and they seem to think it’s a great idea.
So problem solved. I use this little quantifying trick a lot. Sometimes it makes decisions a complete snap - will it cost $100 dollars or $1,000 to ship those things overnight so we’re sure they arrive at the show on time? If it’s $100 absolutely YES. If it’s $1,000 then perhaps I’m willing to take the calculated risk that they’ll get there on time. My first step is almost always to quantify the options. The exercise of doing so is comforting as I’m ‘tackling’ or ‘working on’ the problem and the answers nearly always make the ultimate decision easier. They’re rarely as cut & dried as 100 or 1000 but you get the idea.
Further I wondered why I didn’t apply this little framework to the ‘growth’ question. That’s pretty clear to me now, too. It all boils down to (doesn’t it always) a crisis of confidence. What my management was saying to me is “You’re ROCKING at this thing and we want you to expand and go work on some other stuff because we’re confident that you will totally ROCK at this other stuff as well and then you’ll be even more valuable to the company”. What I HEARD was “You’re a one trick pony and we don’t respect the skills it takes to do the one silly trick you can do. You’re good at this one thing but we don’t value it so we want to try to force you into learning these OTHER tricks that we understand so then we’ll value you”. Some long-buried teenage rebellion reared up for me and all I could think is “they’re trying to CHANGE me” and as my mother could easily tell you I fight enforced change like a cornered um, long clawed snarly mean animal. I’m all about being flexible and adaptive until someone who I perceive to be an authority figure tells me that I should/have to do something else then I turn into a militant crazy ball of fight. Funny how Christine the high school kid who crawled out the window of Biology class to escape school and who snuck out of her bedroom window in the middle of the night is also the Christine who shows up to work every day.
I sure don’t like many aspects of getting older and growing up, but these flashes of insight & understanding are one part of aging that I’m really grooving on.