One of the things I love about my job is speaking at professional events. Aside from a love of doing it, I also believe in my responsibility as a community member to share. The added benefit of doing talks is getting to meet so many great people.
Earlier this year I set an objective for myself to speak at least 12 times in 2013. It was an aggressive goal given my time is also fairly full of working with various clients. On Tuesday of last week I completed talk #12 at the PMI-CTT symposium, and #13 at the Agile Tour Toronto conference. I have 2 more to go in 2013 and at the same time my client work is increasing.
There are times I’ve been struggling with the goal and commitments I made around doing speaking engagements. I won’t lie when I say there’s been a few times I’ve thought of phoning an organizer and backing away. It would be easy to do. What choice do they have if I simply say “sorry I won’t be there”. However, for someone working hard to build a personal brand and visibility what good would this do me?
Here’s how I got through a busy year, and am on track to finishing my 15th talk during 2013. Given I am focusing on The Responsibility Process in the next two talks I thought I would share how I apply it myself. Here’s an example of how I applied the responsibility process during this period of time. It is human nature to start at the bottom of the process and work our way up to responsibility. So my thought process went like this:
Lay Blame – “My clients have urgent needs I need to respond to”. This isn’t hard to believe given the busy world we’re all working in. I realized I was trying to find a way to blame someone else so I wouldn’t take a hit. Once I’m willing to acknowledge where I’m sitting in the process I can move away from blame. After all blaming someone else isn’t going to result in the outcome I’m after.
Justify – “I’ve had some good fortune in my business making me too busy for speaking engagements”. In justifying I was trying to find a way to make it acceptable to dodge a commitment. This could have been a way to get out of a speaking engagement. I doubt it would have felt good given I know I had failed to live up to a commitment. So I moved myself off of justifying.
Shame – “Ah man I suck at being independent because I can’t keep up”. Pity party anyone? The problem with shame is I sit here churning about how I’ve let myself and others down. It doesn’t help my brand, reputation, or my feeling of self-worth. So to protect myself and get on with other work I can shift myself over to quit. But sitting here having this pity party with myself won’t result in the outcome I’m after. So in acknowledging where I’m at, I’m going to move myself up the process.
Obligation – “FINE! I’ll do these engagements but I’m just going to ride on past talks and hope for the best.” In other words, I’m going to show up, go through the motions and hope I can pull it off. The problem is by not putting my heart and soul into it the result won’t be as valuable as it could be for the audience. Given I’m likely going to get weak reviews I’m going to head over to Quit so I don’t have to feel bad about them. I can even see heading to blame or justify based on the situation. It’s time to get out from below the line and take the final step towards Responsibility.
Responsibility – “I’ve made this commitment and I’m going to put my all into the 15th talk as if it was the first one I made this year!”. The good news is this is exactly where I am with my last two talks. In seeing myself here it means we’re going to learn lots, get to know new people and have some fun along the way too!
The above is actually a very real example. It was an aggressive goal to speak this many times in one year while maintaining a full compliment of client work. It has meant on numerous occasions I’ve had to stop and examine where I’m at on The Responsibility Process. Once I did this it became easier for me to move myself to a better place and deliver my best work for the audience. Moving myself to responsibility also made it easier to have fun along the way!
As for my goal for 2014? I intend to keep doing talks as they’re just too much fun! However, the goal won’t be as aggressive as it was this year.
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