This year I drove to The Running Event (TRE) in Austin, Texas. Amounted to just over 2500 total round trip miles from my home in central North Carolina. Part of the route followed the same stretch I walked earlier this year. And though that was a nostalgic highlight, it’s not what I came here to write about.
TRE, per usual, was a giant reunion. I liken it to a 4-day wedding. Every few minutes I bump into someone else from my past – a friend or colleague I haven’t seen in a long time – and of course I want to catch up. But inevitably one of us is en route to a meeting or a lunch date and have barely a minute to get reacquainted. We’ve got the right intention, but we don’t have time. Then suddenly the week is done and I’m wishing I’d been more mindful and present with everyone I encountered, even though I’d tried my best.
Though I typically attend TRE as a speaker, I still make sure I hit up the keynote and retail educational sessions, too. I do this for a couple reasons: 1) I believe if I am not in a constant state of learning I’ll lose my grip on the industry, and 2) I absolutely love watching how other folks present material. I love to bear witness to their gestures and vocal inflections. Their movements and pregnant pauses. I’m a super visual person. So watching a fellow public speaker helps makes me better at what I do.
During the conference I constantly fill my pockets with notes. Thoughts and ideas that pop in my head as I mill amongst my industry peers. There’s a seemingly endless feast of innovation swinging around like a bursting piñata. And me, scrambling around trying to pick up as much candy as I possibly can. Stuffing my pockets.
Every night, when finally back in my hotel room, I sift through my crumpled up notes and try to decipher my cryptic chicken scratch. Some of my best ideas have fallen into this net even though I often have no idea what I was trying to say. Opaque verbiage gets lost in a lofty moment of enlightenment. Once in a while I mark something down that transcends everything. A special moment, no doubt.
This year in Austin I wrote something on a the hotel notepad and today, a few weeks later, I am still muscled by its strength. Here’s what I wrote:
Decide what’s needed outside of me, then do it — and figure how to make it work inside.
Reminds me of the Buddhist adage that insists we find what we are best at and then go do it. But my note has a twist – it encourages me to let go of logic and simply do what needs to be done. This speaks to me. Which is probably why I wrote it down.
After walking for 7ish months across the country I returned home to find my business covered in dust. Resuscitating it has been top of my list since my arrival home, and frankly it’s been tougher than I expected. I’ve been stressed out trying to strategize various angles of approach. Who to call? What to say? I’ve questioned my intuition, trying instead to meet external needs (or so I thought). I’ve started to undervalue my personal reinvention. It’s all been getting the best of me.
Though horribly frightened by the prospect of reinserting myself into a 9 to 5, I started formulating a plan B that included just that. The result: anxiety attacks and insomnia. A semi-crazed state.
This wasn’t going to work. So rather than let it take charge, I chose to alter how I moved through TRE this year.
I decided I’d just wander the conference and chit chat with folks. Plan nothing in advance. Let things happen organically. I eschewed any sort of expectation. Tossed away any plans for resulting gigs. Refused to plan for an outcome. Basically I did the opposite of what my terrified logical mind needed. I rolled in the waves of the show. I relinquished control. And know what? It felt pretty damn good.
I am at a point in my existence where I want the truest version of myself to be the guiding force. Professionally, I want to offer the best me to my clients. And today, as I reflect on the conference, I can honestly say this mindset manifested rather well for the duration of TRE (even if it was a partially a stroke of luck). Fact is, I was intentionally relaxed, open to natural connection, and purposely more willing to give than to take. And it made all the difference.
Such behavior isn’t my default, but it’s possible. And I suppose that’s why I am still thinking about that tattered slip of paper.
I need to figure out what’s needed outside of me, then give myself to it with the confidence of knowing it’s all going to work out.
Trust and personal authenticity. A couple things I am thinking about today.