This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.
I was scheduled to be on a conference call with three other people, including a very senior leader at a big four accounting firm—someone I’ve heard great things about through Charlie Green for years. I was excited to finally “meet” the guy. I was also feeling a little nervous and intimidated, in spite of the fact that there was no logical reason for that whatsoever.
I did the prep that there was to do before-hand (minimal), and found myself ready to dial in about seven minutes early (which is rarer than I care to admit). And then I found myself looking for things to do to fill six of those seven minutes.
If you’ve been in one of my workshops, you know this is hypocritical. I regularly talk about the simple things we can do to create opportunities to connect with our clients in distinctive ways—like showing up early for a meeting. I’ve heard countless stories of magic moments occurring with hard-to-reach executives during the casual, unstructured time before something scheduled begins. So I push showing up early as a relationship-building best practice. I preach about developing ease with ambiguity and intimacy because that’s required to make the most of it.
I just don’t always do as I say.
In the moment, I had the presence of mind (this time) to pause and reflect, and realized that I was creating busy-ness because I was anxious—what would we talk about if we both called in early and were on our own, without the comfort of others and a meeting agenda to guide us? Would it be weird? Would I say something stupid? (Abe Lincoln’s wise words come to mind: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”)
I also had the presence of mind (this time) to interrupt myself, sit myself back down, and dial in early.
As it turns out, the senior leader joined right at the top of the hour, so there were no magic moments to be had. That’s OK, as the lesson for me had been learned. And I was there, ready and waiting, which I think is what matters most.
This week, notice when you’re a little nervous or anxious or uncomfortable. In what ways do you habitually distract yourself? Once you know the answers, you can make new choices.
Watch a short video on why nobody gives a damn about you and you should be glad of it (Trust Tip #9), from our friends at Trusted Advisor Associates, or learn more about the importance of self-awareness in Chapter 10 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.