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LIGHTS, CAMERA, IMPERFECT ACTION

My attempts to make some teaching videos for my website had my insides twisted and my mind bent. It was important – critical even for the new direction of my business – and I was deeply enthusiastic about the much needed transformation. A lot rested upon these efforts – the evolution of what I had worked so hard to learn and wanted so much to share with a wider audience, a coming of age within the new way coaching was done and financial stability – sorely lacking for some years, but it was not happening.

I was stuck. Frustrated. Fearful. The fear felt dark, clammy and spoke in a child’s whisper. “What if I can’t do this?’ Frustration came on as a nasty adolescent snarl, “Attempt number 74 and failing.” A well modulated adult voice offered good coaching, “You’ve overcome challenges before,” – to no avail. As I tried yet again, that coaching voice was drowned out by the others.

Attempt after attempt proved either boring, slow or worse. The voices in my head got louder. I faltered, then came to a dwindling halt.

Funny, because teaching and presenting to live audiences was a joy, a high that I loved and found effortless. But this new format, offering insights up to a screen with built-in camera, went stale. I felt dull witted and lonely alternating with frozen and stiff. And there was no “juice” coming off the silicone, juice that informed a live presentation and helped hone the contents, tone and energy…something to work off of and with, as I navigated what was needed. The juice had dried up and I was beached in this never never land.

Ironically, for much of my life I had taught educators, organizational leaders, entrepreneurs and coaches that learning involved discomfort, a willingness to forego feeling ease and confidence, and the courage to continue past wanting to quit. I had had the experience myself many times, learning to ski, lead ropes courses, speak a new language in another country, teach new curriculum, co-author a book, but now, well, now I was giving up.

I had to blame someone or something. I lined up the usual suspects. “I am too old to learn a new technology.” “It has to be a stellar video or nothing.” “This technology is not responsive to the human factor.” and so on. The rationalizations weren’t very satisfying, but I couldn’t work ‘round them.

I tried taking a break and coming back “fresh”. I watched other teaching videos – so many they became a blur. I listened to the supportive echo of family and friends cheering me on. Nothing helped.

Then a colleague, collaborator and friend, Ben Gioia, www.marketingwithheart.com asked me what my true objectives were for the video. I told him I wanted to offer folks a most basic understanding of how they were hardwired for stress – a reptilian brain function that limited them to fight, flight or freeze and what they could do to move from reactivity to responsiveness as the basis for all other change in their lives.

Stating it clearly for him, I felt a ruffle of returning enthusiasm, quickly followed by the taste of defeat. Someone else might be able to bring it off, but once in front of the camera, I went into marionette mode. And I shared that experience with him.

Ben then said something simple, heard elsewhere. He said, “Imperfect action, beats perfect inaction, every time.” And his words exploded the cement blockade I had erected.

My video didn’t have to be perfect. I didn’t have to exude ease and confidence in this very first one. It didn’t need to reach the entire western world. It didn’t represent all of who I am or all of what I am capable of…My video could be a simple, imperfect offering of a useful strategy, I knew to be helpful.

The next morning, after a strong coffee, I began again. I tossed away my scribbled notes. I deleted all the previous attempts from googledocs. I forgot about my hair. I imagined a friend sitting across the table from me and just spoke about something I knew almost as well as the shape of my son’s hands.

As I filmed, I shared my own experiences with the move from reaction to response, including the pain and triumphs. A quote from one of my teachers arrived unbidden. And suddenly, I found myself smiling, inside and out.

No, the video wasn’t perfect. There were many redos in its future. But something had shifted. I dropped the need to create “perfection”. My self-image went on holiday. And when I clarified again and again the purpose for what I was doing without the sticky attachments, I was free to be creative.

Imperfect action became the rule as I continued with a series of videos necessary to this project.
And now, as I approach bringing this part of my business transformation to a close, I feel deep gratitude for the stuckness, the fear and the frustration. I can accept them as well traveled companions who will come again and again as I take on new challenges, grow and learn. And to each I can say, “well met” and go on about the task at hand.

Posted in Coaching, Leadership, Making Positive Shift, Self-Help

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