The part of my day that stood out was the hour that I sat there, staring into my iphone as it was clipped into the ring light, not really able to figure out what to say.
Since January, I had been posting a video on LinkedIn on Wednesdays — something useful, cheerful, a practical idea, for people involved in Federal contracting.
Today, I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say, or how. My constraints are:
- One idea, with up to three tips or parts.
- No edits. Use it as it is.
- About two minutes, no longer than three.
- A call to action, something people can do or use right away
- and a link to a related tool or event that will help.
I had gotten further and further behind this week, and the day had slipped away. It was past 2:30, a nice juicy time had just opened up on my calendar to get this wrapped up… and take after take, I was stuck.
I’d managed to do it every week for the past six weeks. After all, I should be able to pull these out of my head like nothing, right? I watch my gifted friend Will Randolph, who has done a video lesson on LinkedIn, “William’s Whiteboard,” every Wednesday for the past year! I’m not as good as he is, but surely I can crank out a two minute tip!
delete. Hit “record” again.
I wanted to talk about generosity; about gratitude, about writing thank you notes… and share a piece of advice from a friend that was kind of related… these were actually three different stories, and they were all of the “chipper little tip” variety: advice without necessarily a lot of, well, soul or vulnerability if I couldn’t share a personal story that could make the idea memorable.
And none of the ideas were unique to government contracting. These were all pretty generic ideas. Sure, the core of my work is all about human connection that just HAPPENS to be in the federal arena, so of COURSE my ideas are by their nature going to be kind of generally applicable, right? And if the point of my post was to serve my community but also support my own business objectives, what was the link between this little collection of thoughts of the day and whatever idea I really wanted people to remember me for, or even get in touch?
I somehow forgot that anytime after 3 pm is not a good time for me to be trying to do this. I don’t have “one-take” clarity left. Because I don’t write these things or use a teleprompter. That would probably save time.
Then there’s this question:
How perfect does it need to be? If I’m not reading from a script, then I figure I owe it to anyone watching to deliver something short, clear, and useful, and not wander all over the place.
I just finished reading a book about the power of story telling… and that just about stalled my efforts. Where were all the story ideas that were coming to me when I was reading the story telling book?
Oh. I never wrote those down.
Stories would be better than tips! People love stories.
Yeah, but that perfect two minute story doesn’t pop out of nowhere. Ask any standup comic how many times they rehearse and refine the epic two minute story.
A story needs to have a point; and the listener needs to be able to imagine themselves in the hero role, see how this could have happened to them.
Oh, gee. What stories do *I* have?
Oh, a lot, but they are long and wander all over the place.
What story do I have, something hard-hitting and poignant, a lesson I learned that has value for other people and that I can share in two minutes?
And…I had a four-o’clock call. I was out of time.
There was not going to be a Wednesday video this week.
Despite that, here are all the useful things I got from the experience.
- A clear reminder to not try to do video after 3 pm, because my “one-take” ability is long gone by that time of day.
- Self-compassion practice: I remembered to be gentle with myself even though I hadn’t managed to get something done that I had hoped to complete.
- As I wrapped up from the day and did another skim of LinkedIn, I saw that my team had already published the scheduled post for the day, sharing a guest blog from my friend Kevin Hoey. I forgot they were doing that. So not only was there no need to consider I’d failed by not doing a video post today, but if I’d wanted to pick a theme and call to action of my video post, I could have picked up a theme from my scheduled blog post of the week, which also goes live on Wednesdays. That would be an easy plan to follow next time! SCORE!
- And I got a story I could share with you after all — in this blog rather than something for LinkedIn, and it might even make its way to LinkedIn after all.
In short, the Universe had just reminded me, gently, that, contrary to my recurring fears, I was, and am, more than enough.
Oh, to heck with it. This was what hit the cutting room floor. Enjoy, in all its messy, disorganized, imperfection.