I’ve been observing life and some of its glorious moments in terms of balance. Life seeks out equilibrium and so do we. I’ve been watching the balance of things: talking vs. listening, doing vs. being, working vs. resting, etc. I think that we also tend to think that we can force the balance to happen. I am reminded of the over-worked executive who goes on an island vacation, telling himself, “relax, come on, just relax”! The process of balance is about allowing it to happen, not demanding that it happen. What helps is the awareness that you may not be there yet. In other words, if you notice that you are out of balance, remain the observer of the imbalance, and soon you will get there. I experienced this in a personal example of preparing for a tele-class last week.
My colleague, Cindy and I were preparing to deliver a tele-class on making the transition back to school easier for parents and students. We both are creative beings who happen to be conscientious professionals, so every time one of us was being creative and off task, the other one would pull us back in. There was a constant battle between creativity and trust vs. organization and being prepared. Finally, we gave up and decided to let it evolve organically. I was incredibly fearful, for many reasons, one which was, I didn’t really know Cindy too well, so I wasn’t sure how she would react. In a tele-class, you can’t see each other, so I was missing the visual cues too. I had this sinking feeling that the whole thing would be a disaster and our coaching organization would never ask us to teach again! I was observing my concerns and yet, something inside me was daring me to do it. “Go for it”, I kept on hearing. And so we did…
The more we discussed the topic of our class, the more lost we felt. I felt like I had all of these ideas and no real structure. We decided to interview kids so we could better understand their concerns. The process of interviewing the kids in itself was eye opening. Sitting down and treating them like adults and asking them questions, created an environment in which they felt safe and listened to. From those interviews, we emerged ecstatic with the information, humbled by the experience, and more confused than ever!
I’d hear this voice that kept on saying, just let it go (yes, it was Cindy most of the time!). Let go of control, let go of structure and the need to organize. It was terrifying, because it is not something I have experienced before. I have put dinner parties together at the last minute without any plans. I have gone through days, or vacations without plans. But I have never done anything professional without a solid iron-clad and fool proof plan. This was the first.
I had read somewhere that out of chaos comes clarity. What they neglected to mention is that there is that in between phase, where fear is your only companion prior to clarity creeping in. Well, once I got over the fear, I settled into what I wanted the whole experience to feel like. I allowed the feeling of how I wanted to feel during the class, take over me. From that place, I decided how I would like to leave the audience and slowly, it all came together. I can’t say what specific thing made it work so effortlessly. I do know that I had to let go of a lot of old beliefs. I gave up the belief that you have to be overly prepared for a major presentation. I gave up the belief that it would be embarrassing if I failed. I gave up the belief that you have to have visual cues. And there are a lot more beliefs I let go of that I won’t go into here. I basically emptied my cup of beliefs and settled into the experience. Letting go of these old beliefs also helped the balance take shape.
What came together was amazing. Even Cindy was impressed with the results. The whole class took form and it was better than anything I could have pre-planned. In fact, I had a whole day to just bask in the glory of effortlessly creating something out of chaos. And in all honesty, at that point, it didn’t matter how the class would be received. I knew that together we had birthed a succinct and clear message, with plenty of opportunities for going in any direction the audience wanted to take it to. I had loved the process without being married to the outcome. It was fantastic! It was all about balance and getting out of the way. I think I will confidently practice this process for everything else in my life and trust that it will work out when and how it does.