It was Friday afternoon, and a group of us were huddled around lemonades – draped in exhaustion around a table. There had been so much goodness in the previous week at the Dreamforce conference – emerging technologies to explore, sessions jam-packed with learning, new connections. One woman asked – so what now? How do I even get started trying to implement any of this back in my organization, or make any personal changes?
Earlier last spring I took a life-changing walk on the Camino de Santiago. I met many folks who couldn’t wait to come back and do the walk again. Yet for me, if something didn’t shift in my life upon my return the experience of the walk was only a diversion.
Reflection is the bridge from experiencing something and implementing the change we seek. It takes time, and intention – but our organizations will be better for it, and so will we.
6 Steps to Move Forward when Your Head is Full
1. Do a Brain Dump
Author David Allen of Getting Things Done reminds us that our brains are meant to think creatively, not to hold to-do lists. When my brain is full to the brim, I need to throw it all up on the page. There is no wrong way to do this. Just a brainstorm braindump of everything you are thinking about – make it rough, make it notes, make it quick. If writing down all the things feels overwhelming – do what writer Julia Cameron says – set a timer for 3 minutes, and then start writing, and don’t stop. Often our brains are holding onto so much that the rest of us wants to give up and let go of all the things. Don’t! Give your brain a rest by downloading all your thoughts to move forward.
2. What is your Focus for the Next 60 days?
We can do all the things, but we can’t do them all at once. The difference between successful people and those that are ineffective is focus. After your braindump exercise, something with urgency has bubbled up to the surface – what is it? Don’t overthink this – let your intuitive self help out. Then commit to move forward on this one, key thing. Top of mind for me is getting my Nonprofit Consultant Certification. I’m committing to get this newly released certification by the end of the year. And since I know myself, and know I work best with peer accountability, I commit to setting up a small circle to get us there, together (Michael – I’m looking at you!).
3. What do you Want to be Celebrating a Year from Now?
My dear friend and former college roommate posed this question to me a few years ago, before a girlfriend’s weekend, and it threw me into a bit of an existential crisis. Because while I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to be celebrating – I did know that I no longer wanted to be complaining about a situation I was facing in my work life. And with that moment of clarity, I came away from the weekend with the conviction to change that which ired me. So I ask you this – what do you want to be celebrating? Moving your organization to Lightning? A new role? We can only achieve a future we can imagine. Write it down.
4. Circle back with your People
You are my people! A key part of cementing learning for ourselves is communicating it to others. If you were lucky enough to have your boss give you time off and pay for your ticket to Dreamforce, write down your learnings – big, small, doesn’t matter. Then schedule a presentation – if your boss isn’t into this (ask!), make it a lunch and learn for anyone who wants to come. Practice telling a business story of something that happened to you while at the conference (if you were at my session, this doesn’t have to be a big connection to what they care about – just something meaningful to you.) This will help you get in the habit of telling business stories.
If you’re a Salesforce employee do the same – what did you learn? What surprised you? What story to you have to share with others about a customer or partner you met, or situation you witnessed?
If you got a free ticket because you were a speaker or an MVP or both, circle back with those communities and take the time to write a twitter conversation or a blog or a linkedin or slack post or all of the above on what you experienced this conference. Express gratitude.
You might be tempted to move on to your “real” work – but this step will bridge the gap of your own learning and connecting with your broader work or personal community.
5. Consolidate your Key Learning into a Personal Reference Document
This could be the presentation you gave to your boss, or a new consolidation of your brain dump. Bullet points work great. Make a document that will remind yourself of the a-ha moments you had, so that on your dreariest days in the future you can pull out a bit of inspiration to keep going. Some things on my list: put my phone to bed at night, build data models to link to customer 360, twitter is powerful and addictive, get in the weeds to learn Lightning Out. Onward!
6. Congratulate yourself, and let the rest go
Being around 180K people and listening to world-class speakers takes a lot of energy. Now we’ve spent time reflecting on learnings, and most importantly – what I’m going to focus on executing for the next 60 days, as well as what I’m working toward with intention for the next year. The key, then, is letting go of the rest. We can work ourselves up into a frenzy of there’s not enough time, and I’m not enough, either. Those thoughts will only paralyze us. So we must get out of our own way. We are more than enough, and there’s more than enough time to do the most importants – if we move forward with purpose and intention. Then forget the rest, and take a nap or three.
Blog post link to 2018 Ultimate Content Guide of all the Salesforce keynotes & announcements – this one’s a goodie!
Six-page download guide of all the stories, examples, and resources for my session Managing Up for Admins: Inspire, Pitch and Speak Candidly – look out for the double-opt in to download it.
Thank you for sharing this. I especially loved the key leanings reference document and presenting what I learned. On my to do list this week!
Thanks for taking the time to comment, Carmen. It was so powerful watching you speak at the conference!