In the process of producing an event around the topic of uncertainty, we tried something totally new and it’s only with perspective that I’ve realized the irony.
The Challenge: After meeting Jonathan Fields, author of Career Renegade and Uncertainty – Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance I wanted to bring him home to Big O to speak. Navigating uncertainty is more important than ever and I found his wisdom illuminating. Since he lives in Manhattan we decided to wait until he was already here so we could time it to one of our meetings.
The Solution: Since I don’t like waiting I began noodling another solution and in the process we built a relationship.
Then it hit me – why not invite him to do a virtual Keynote LIVE, a Skype call-in that was broadcast on a large screen? Add a Tweet Chat to that and invite an even a larger audience? It would be almost like he was there.
I ran it by Jonathan and he said yes.
I ran it by the Ranch and they said yes.
Had I done either? No.
Did I know someone who did this stuff? Yes.
Did I know what was going to happen or if the audience would even like it? No.
But if it worked..the world would open up. Thinkers of relevance from all over the world could now beam into Big Ooga and share their knowledge.
The upside was thrilling. The down side not so risky. If the night was a bomb, there would be other nights.
Did it even occur to any of us to rehearse prior to that night? No.
We all just saw it in our minds eye.
And then reality hit.
It was an hour and a half before show time and we had decided this was the perfect time for the run through. Mark Carter was producing the Tweet Chat and I figured the Skype call was a no brainer. As far as I was concerned everything was in order. You flip the switch, it goes on.
“Lennie, what’s your Skype address?” Mark asked.
“I don’t know.” I answered.
“Um, what were you thinking about the call?” he said.
“That we’d work it through the Ranch.”
“Did you bring your lap top?” he said.
“You mean my net book?”
“Tim McDonald is on his way in with a laptop. No problem. I got this covered.” (To himself so I could hear. “And you’d think I would have asked her this in advance.”)
That Mark is being considered to produce the next TED, puts this into perspective.
A flurry of activity: screens, cords, hook-ups, computers, Tim McDonald arrives, Avery arrives, Ranch tech on deck, people testing, texting, speakers are brought in, solutions are flying.
“Mark,” I said, “Jonathan’s waiting for the run through.”
“Let him know we’re almost there.”
THERE was 15 minutes to zero hour. But Jonathan was cool because he IS the Uncertainty guy.
And then..just as we’d all seen it in our heads, it worked.
The Virtual Keynote and Tweet Chat took flight. People loved it, asked for more like it and stayed in their seats discussing, exploring, contributing and responding to each other. We were traveling together in a beam of new thinking and it upped everyone’s game.
Here are some pearls of wisdom to help you move through your own Uncertainty and use it to fuel your brilliance.
1. Know that we are all moving through uncertainty and that the brain is wired to run from it. If the natural response is to avoid it, you can elect another default setting with conscious choice.
2. Up your concentration. Work with a 90/30 rule and you’ll get more done with more focus. Spend 90 minutes at your desk with complete focus and break for 30 minutes so your brain can recover. If you can’t do 90 or 30, adjust to 60 and 15, or any increments that you can handle as long as you disengage. By training your brain you’ll be able to up your times of real concentration, creativity and flow. When you are in flow, you are literally in uncertainty and it feels wonderful and exciting. The more you experience the wonder the more you are going to immerse in it.
3. Turn off distractions. Research proves that multitasking will diminish your capabilities and you will get less done more poorly.
4. Remember: Anything worth doing requires uncertainty, but you must decide and act in the face of it.
5. And this one is for Carol Roth, evaluate your risk. You may not know what will happen but if the upside is glorious and the downside is a speed bump. Leap! Trying something new makes you new and contributes something new to the world.
postscript: We’re doing this again with Steve Farber so get your copy of Radical Leap or Radical Leap Re-energized. Radical Leap is among the 100 best business books of all time. And then we’ll discuss it with him.