Recently, I had a revelatory learning experience.
It wasn’t revelatory because it contradicted what I already knew. What made it so eye-opening and useful was the way it gave what I knew context.
Given that new framework, all the tips, tricks and techniques I had been collecting over the years on the subject suddenly made sense. I finally understood what other experts had been trying to get at. And why I had gotten so bogged down in their processes and unable to make their advice work for me.
Even better, that framework turned out to be an example of my favorite kind of system: a fractal one. It works equally well at the small scale and the large, and in all kinds of circumstances. It’s efficient. It’s effective. It’s complex rather than complicated.
Learning it reminded me of my normally reticent high school chemistry teacher showing us the Periodic Table of the Elements for the first time and saying with obvious emotion, “This is the most beautiful thing I know.”
Some systems just make you weak in the knees with their elegant simplicity.
Learning it also reminded me of learning baking ratios. In the same way I better understand but no longer need to rely on recipes, I’m finding I no longer have much use for the formulaic advice I’ve been collecting, even though I now know what to do with it. Now that I understand certain basic principles, I’m capable of inventing something much better suited to my needs, much more quickly, on my own. (Seriously, it’s doing wonders for my infrastructure project…)
What context has to do with the end of this celebration.
Meanwhile, in the wake of that experience, I’ve been drafting this next-to-last missive of my anniversary celebration.
I had planned to illustrate the Art of the Debrief. Because here at the Atelier of Time, when we reach the End of anything – whether we’re closing a single co-working session or a twelve-week program like Foundations – we always review our recent experience, note what worked and what didn’t, and incorporate those insights into our systems and future plans. It’s a practice that allows our work to become increasingly efficient and effective and helps us to avoid repeating mistakes or reinventing that proverbial wheel.
But when it came down to compiling a review of all we’ve covered and next steps you could take to build on what you learned, all my suggestions ended up looking like this:
- If you’ve realized what you’re lacking is enough energy rather than enough time – take the class.
- If the organic nature of systems was a huge aha-moment for you and you want to model that in your business – take the class.
- If you want to continue incorporating more R&R into your weeks – take the class.
And so on and so forth and so on.
Not because I wanted to pressure anyone into taking the course. But because the Foundations program is where you get the framework that makes taking your next steps a simple, straightforward process. But without any context, explaining what you should do next is anything but…
In the end, there are only two next immediate steps for you to choose from.
The Art of the Debrief and the other practices we bring to Endings allow us to make graceful exits. And graceful exits make for graceful entrances. How you close one thing has a significant effect on what follows.
That space between the close of one thing and the start of the next is a liminal one. It’s a transition.
We tend to be most vulnerable to distraction and misjudgment when we are in transition. Generally speaking, we’re fine while we’re immersed in the doing, it’s the spaces between the doing that get us into trouble. It’s the spaces in between when we’re most likely to fall back into old, unhelpful patterns.
Any space in-between is a Crossroad. As we discussed at the mid-point of this celebration, a Crossroad is an opportunity to pause, evaluate, and change strategy or direction as needed to reach a desired outcome.
Right now, you’re at a Crossroad.
You’re at a fork in the road.
On one path, you’ll do more of the same.
On the other, you have the opportunity to do something different.
I get why you’d choose to do more of the same.
You’ve learned from experience that other people’s systems don’t work out of the box for you. You’ve learned it’s a waste of time and money to buy the pre-packaged formulas.
Given that experience, collecting small bits of advice from here, there and everywhere and stitching them together into some kind of whole that gets the results you’re hoping for understandably seems like a sensible alternative. And because you’re a smart, creative Quick Study, that DIY approach also seems totally doable.
But here’s the truth I was so potently reminded of last month:
DIY is great when you think it would be fun to make homemade ketchup. (I’m still figuring out what to do with all my tomatoes.)
And DIY may be essential to developing innovative work in your field.
But it’s a ridiculously slow way to learn business skills.
I’m a pretty smart cookie, but five years of gathering and synthesizing various tips, tricks and techniques did not give me the comprehensive understanding of the subject that an expert was able to show me in the space of three days.
How long have you been trying to get more organized and better manage your time?
I’m guessing it’s been more than the twelve weeks it would take to complete the Foundations program. It’s probably more than twelve months. It might even be something closer to twelve years.
I’m guessing your own eclectic library of tips, tricks and techniques isn’t working any better for you than mine was working for me.
There are two kinds of invention.
The kind where you gather up little nuggets of wisdom from wherever you can find them and try to cobble them together into something useful. And the kind that comes from knowing the principles behind the nuggets.
Over the course of this anniversary celebration, I’ve been sharing nuggets with you because that’s what’s been appropriate to an open house of mingling over hors d’oeuvres while touring the facilities.
And, yes, there is more you could do with each one of those useful little nuggets.
But, ultimately, there are only two next immediate steps before you.
1. Do more of the same and add this series of excerpts and sample tools to a database of advice that (let’s be honest) isn’t serving you very well and has become less like stitching together a warm and beautiful crazy quilt and more like Frankenstein’s monster.
Or 2. Do something different and learn the principles on which those excerpts and sample tools are based and that tie them together – and consequently rapidly accelerate your progress.
The big and lasting transformations you’re looking for come from learning the underlying context and framework I couldn’t bring to the party.
The confident capability you want comes from having a solid Foundation.
In that high school chemistry class, I nearly failed every quiz on the Periodic Table until we completed the last lesson in that section of our textbook. Once I had the information I needed to understand how it all fit together, I didn’t just get it, I grokked it. And I aced the final with a higher score than the sophomore prodigies who were always kicking my academic butt. Years later in art school, thanks to that foundation, instead of reducing me to tears like my classmates, Glaze Calc wasn’t just easy, it was fun. Because I had a foundation, I was free to skip the formulas and invent.
I want you to have the same kind of revelatory learning experience I just had.
I want you to understand why other people’s formulas and advice haven’t worked for you.
I want you to grok why that’s not your fault.
I want to replace the complicated library of tips, tricks and hacks you’ve collected over the years with an easy-to-use framework that’s effective at every scale and in all kinds of circumstances.
I want the systems of your own invention to be the ones that make you weak in the knees with their elegant simplicity.
I want you feel smart again.
I want you to have some fun with this stuff.
And I want it for you by December.
Come January 1st of the new year, I want “get more organized” to be last thing you’d think to add to your list of resolutions for 2015.
I want your relationship with Time to be so transformed, you’re not just ready but eager to apply your new skills to meeting some big hairy audacious goals next year.
It’s totally within your capability.
And it’s what’s waiting for you on Path #2.
• • • • •
What’s it going to be?
More of the same?
Or something different?
It’s time to choose.
Registration closes next Monday, September 15.
• • • • •
Looking forward to walking Path #2 with you,
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