Whenever I launch into creating a keynote presentation, my office temporarily turns chaotic: Notes, scribbled on pieces of paper toweling or crumpled bank deposit slips, skitter across my desk; drafts of previous keynote presentations flicker on my dual computer screens; folders of additional notes, taken while assessing my client’s needs, explode across my computer keyboard; my acoustic guitar leans against my desk, within grabbing distance; and piles of papers that were important yesterday, are suddenly irrelevant, crowded to the corners by my latest obsession.
This chaotic abandon is what my husband calls “My Process.” I go through it each time I shape a keynote, a speech, a song or any other creative endeavor. The process is messy, like birthing a baby. But the end result of this chaos is a finished product that has been burnished and shaped by my willingnes
s to walk into—and surrender to– the Land of not Knowing.
I admit, I love and embrace this chaos. It reminds me of the early rehearsals I experienced as an actress… messy, frustrating, heady hours filled with the thrill of choices being made and paths being set. We walked into the rehearsal process not knowing exactly where it would lead us, but confident that we’d get where we were supposed to go. We understood that, without the chaos, without thrashing through the underbrush of possibilities and uncertainty, there wouldn’t be the eventual thrill of clarity.
“From Chaos Comes Clarity,” I tell my coaching clients, when I see them procrastinating on putting a presentation together. “The earlier you leap in, the better,” I counsel, knowing full well that the formative phase of a presentation can feel overwhelming, too close a reminder that they will soon be presenting the final product to (gasp!) an audience.
But when my clients are brave enough to leap earlier than usual into chaos and wrestle their presentation to the mat, they discover they have more time to internalize it. Which reduces their anxiety, and makes their confidence levels soar.
What about you? Do you tend to put off projects, presentations or even difficult conversations because stepping into them might feel overwhelming, messy, uncertain or chaotic? The more you put them off, the more anxiety you will feel. Stepping into the Land of Not Knowing is what will lead you to the Land of Knowing.
This week, choose to leap into the preparation or development of a project or a presentation as early as possible. Be willing to muddle through the initial phases of a challenging conversation or brainstorming session rather than avoiding it. If you are currently experiencing chaos, trust that the chaos is temporary, and that has something to teach you. Relish the chaos, knowing that it will lead to greater clarity, confidence and a more impactful result.
What is your unique process when stepping into a complicated project or preparing a complext presentation?
What is your tolearance for not knowing where you are in the middle of chaos? Are you willing to be patient and trust that the next step or action will reveal itself to you?
Can you recall a specific time when great chaos led you to breakthrough to a place of clarity that suprised you?