Sunday, March 25, 2012

not what you do, or not what you've done?

I keep thinking about this quote from Seth Godin that I read the other day and wondering how it applies to my life:

"The question to ask is: Is this a reflex that's part of my long-told story, or is this actually a good decision?"~ Seth Godin

I’m not looking for radical change (I have someone willing to sponsor me to move to Australia if I really want to change everything) I like my life. But there’s a very fine line between change and growth and you really can’t have the later without the former.  I know that there have been times in my own life when what I’ve told myself is safety is really actually me being stagnant.  Growth is a sign of life. Change, as much as I resist is not only good, it’s vital.

Today at church they were talking about an upcoming conference – the LifeWomen Conference – a conference that has been stalking me these last few weeks.  Some women that I really respect are heavily involved with it.  I kept hearing about it.  Even at small group someone asked me if I was going and I quickly said that I couldn’t because part of the conference happens Friday during the day while I’m at work. “That’s ok,” she said.  “There’s a bunch of people who come Thursday and Friday evening and for the day on Saturday.”

The thing is, it’s not a scheduling conflict that was ever the real reason in the first place.  The truth is: I don’t like conferences.  I’m not a “conference person”. I don’t like the rah-rah, the standing around trying to make nice with strangers, the scheduling, the groupthink that breeds in places where there’s a theme.   It’s not that I think I’m above them, just that they seem geared for people who are far more social than I am, and far more type A. I’d really rather just read a book.

Today as I was driving home from church I felt like God was being pretty persistent about signing up for this conference.  “God,” I reminded him, “I’m not a conference person.  You know this. It’s just not what I do.”

The answer came swift and sharp, as it sometimes does when God speaks.  “Is it not what you do Claire, or is it simply not what you’ve done?”


And that looped it back around to Seth and the idea of a behaviour, a choice, that is rooted in a “long-told story”.  I like to think that certain things fall inside or outside of my personality.  People come to me for advice all the time and I willingly step into that, even though it means listening some really hard stories.  It’s not a problem; it’s what I do.  But ask me to fill in for someone on your beer league baseball team and I’d rather have a root canal. I just don’t do that.  I’m used to thinking that these things are innate, but I’m wondering how much of that is actually carved in stone? It’s extremely unlikely that I will be a concert pianist.  But is it equally unlikely that I could never enjoy a conference?

The fastest way to change, the only way to change really, is to choose differently.  In the big things and the little things it’s our choices that direct our steps.  Wanting to change, while important, isn’t enough. You have to do the work of change.  You become different by choosing differently.

If we want to change, if I want to change, then I have to be willing to enter into uncharted waters.  That’s the whole gig.  So the question becomes not, “Why are people asking me to do something I don’t want to do?” but rather, “What might the world look like if I tried it?”

Objectively, this conference is low risk.  It wasn’t very expensive and it’s local so if I go the first night and absolutely hate it I will have lost a couple of hours at most.  But what could I gain if I go and hear something I really need to hear, or meet someone I need to meet? To be honest, from everything I’ve seen so far, it doesn’t look like something I’ll hate. It looks awesome. It looks like a conference filled with people that I would like to emulate. All I have to do is show up, which, it turns out, is almost always the case.  If you want to change, there’s only one thing you have to do: show up.  Find out. See for yourself.

When I got home today I signed up for the conference, quickly, before I could talk myself out of it.  It’s not what I usually do, and if I’m being honest, I’m a little nervous about it.  But there’s a part of me that’s excited to, and curious, and I wonder what my story will look like on the other side.


(And hey, if you want to come too, sign-ups are still open. Register by the end of the month and you get a discount AND a chance to win the type of bicycle people ride through Paris in the movies.)