Post Conferences; Where Do You Store Life Lessons and Takeaways?

profile pic 2013OK, my brain is about to explode. I’m back from the annual NAPO Conference and Expo in New Orleans, trying to absorb all of the invaluable information that was presented, and I’m overwhelmed.  I’m thinking that I need a Professional Organizer to sort through all the papers and handouts. But wait…I AM a Professional Organizer.  I should be good with all this. I have file folders, file totes, new erasable tab folders, an assortment of colored paper clips, an impressive collection of highlighters, etc. all designed to manage paper.  Yep, I have all the bells and whistles, so why am I struggling with organizing my conference stuff?

Because it’s not about the stuff.  It never is.  As Peter Walsh says, “it’s about our relationship with the stuff.” The keynote speakers were powerful and motivating and I was very cognizant that behind every handout and every note taken, a vital message was being delivered. It had the potential to change me both personally and professionally forever. The papers are merely a reminder of some of the genius that was imparted but they also could never capture the energy inside that room.  When you’re surrounded with like-minded people, and are witness to outstanding presentations, it is elevating.  I was in a zone, full throttle, frantically trying to capture every word from such great thought leaders. As I looked around the room, I felt the pride and camaraderie, and knew in my gut that we were all in our happy place.

On the plane ride home, incalculable (but brilliant, lol) thoughts were swirling around my brain, and I was hoping that I could just efficiently file them away somewhere in my brain, and regurgitate them whenever I need them to rescue a client. But I later learned that was very black/white thinking.

But now that I’m reviewing my scribbled notes, and allowing the wisdom to really marinate, I’m thinking about particular clients and how I can transfer the smarts.  And then the true gift became abundantly clear. It’s not just about receiving the knowledge or processing the wealth of information, it’s more about finding distinctive ways to apply it and make it your own. I like to think it’s like putting all the right ingredients into a blender (but with your preference of taste and measure) and creating your very own mixture. The real takeaway is to extract the flavor that may appeal to you and create your own recipe for success.

So for me, the quintessential takeaway from conference is to continue to strive to be authentically ME.  Just as it is not my job to expect a client to be “me” , rather it is just to make them a better “them!” So onward and upward, back into the field I go, a little bit smarter, a wee bit wiser, integrating my own skill set, infused with a little help from pioneers of the industry. I’m taking away the principles and strategies that resonate with me, and I will utilize them to positively impact my client’s challenges. They will not just be stored in my head, they will be realized.

A true testament to a sustainable takeaway is that as soon as you hear it, you want to remember it forever, and need to write it down ASAP. You want to keep it in your favorites.  Here are my best of 2013 NAPO Conference;

  • Time: Make sure it matches your values and goals. Best skill we can teach our clients is to free their schedule without the guilt and maximize their efficiency.
  • Willpower: It’s contagious and so is behavior.  Catch the positive energy from those around you.
  • Work on your best self for the future even if the now has delayed gratification.
  • “Mindful acceptance” approach disconnects you from impulse to engage in bad behavior. This triggers motivation and sends signals to the brain.
  • Guilt and shame sabotage goals.  Don’t self-criticize.
  • Good motivation is based on the perception of just the right amount of challenge (Goldilocks theory)
  • It’s safer to blame failure on a half-hearted effort. Not finishing a task protects one from being ultimately judged.
  • Increasing abilities and decreasing demands impact daily performance and will bring out the BEST you.
  • Black and white thinking distorts reality and changes facts.
  • Benefit of analog timers: If you cannot feel time, you cannot manage it.
  • When you work in your natural thinking style, you’re not draining energy.
  • Creating good systems for our clients can obliterate their “self-mistrust.”
  • We are more likely to regret things we never tried than failing at those things we did try.
  • Disappointing “later” is far worse than committing to an “early” NO.
  • Broaden your definition of success so you’re more willing to take a chance, and not feel like you’ve failed.
  • Take a big chance and give yourself permission to fail spectacularly.  If you never fail, it means you’re playing too safe – and living a small life.
  • Sometimes quitting is smartest. Consciously choosing to quit is a sign of strength and wisdom.
  • Allow struggles to bring out your best. Look for lessons learned.

Ahhh…It feels so good to have organized my rambling thoughts that were cluttering my little brain. I always say it’s better to get it out of your head and onto a piece of paper. I invite you all to do the same, and generously share your special takeaways.

Alas, off to bed and hopefully a restful night’s sleep.

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