Doing the hard stuff


I have a confession to make that some of you who are constantly chastising me about working too hard (*cough* ANGIE *cough*) may find difficult to believe: I am, at heart, a lazy sumbitch.

As I can hear the chorus of disbelieving protests rising up from behind (or is that in front of?) computer screens everywhere, let me add that I have confirmation on this from the most vaunted of sources and a new favorite obsession (what? you didn't think lazy people could be obsessed?), the Enneagram. (Yeah, it feels woo-woo and squishy, but hey, I've got "virgo" in my tagline, and only there semi-ironically, after all.)

According to the Enneagram, or to various books and websites which explain it, I am a three, or a "three", or a "3", a.k.a. "the Achiever" or "the Succeeder," depending on which source you're referring to; for convenience's sake, from here on in let's go with "Achiever" and dispense with the quotation marks, as all the finger-motoring to the "shift" key gets tedious and Achievers have no time for tedium, as we are very busy with our achieving and/or succeeding. (Here is a fairly typical and good description of threes, if you can call the peculiar clutch of personality traits that define attention whores "good." Sorry. Quotation marks.)

The deal with Achievers, as you know if you've clicked through and might surmise even if you haven't, is that we work really, really hard...except when we don't, and we curl up into small, apathetic balls of non-activity and go on week-long benders of The Tudors. Everyone on the Enneagram wheel defaults to some evil or lame behavior when confronted with some kind of adverse circumstances; for threes, the behavior is laziness and the trigger is stress. Which, as you might guess, kind of comes along with the territory of pushing for achievement, especially when the thought of not getting it means the removal of love. Good times!

Because it wouldn't be a complete system without an equally strong shift in the opposite direction, if we push through the hard stuff and confront our fears, we blossom into the kind of thoughtful, fun, spotlight-sharing, "Goooooo, team!" types who, of COURSE, naturally attract the love and attention that motivates all of our baser behavior. And there are specific prescriptives for getting to this glorious place, all of which have to do with letting go, serving the greater good and not operating all by our lonesome. Which, again you might guess, is hard for us dig-me, loner, spotlight-hogging types.

I've committed myself to this personal growth stuff, though, and once you do, you're basically all-in. What's more, the Universe starts cooperating in weird ways you kind of wish it wouldn't, like when it makes you blurt out loud on the Twitter that you'll help mount a big unconference and then again when it makes you blurt out loud on a conference call that you will head up sponsorship opportunities, which means not only getting in touch with strangers, but asking them for money. Which you don't get, but which will disappear into sandwiches, swag and sodas, which in turn will disappear with the attendees.

Many hard things have been done this year by me, but none so hard for me as helping in the way I did with PresentationCamp LA. I confess, I got into it (I thought) for purely selfish reasons: raising my visibility as a speaker, getting another chance to speak, and meeting Cliff Atkinson. Out of the three, I accomplished exactly one, meeting Cliff, because frankly, between the running around and the stressing myself out about whether I'd do a decent job at my new and horrible job WHICH I SIGNED UP FOR, I was too fried to actually present anything. Worse, even after I thought I'd made my peace with this at 5pm on the Friday before Saturday's 8:15am call (Cliff and I met early to pick up more snacks), I flipped myself out even further and decided to put together a presentation on how to be funny. Because boy, nothing says "hilarious" like an exhausted speaker presenting material she put together in six hours and rehearsed exactly once.

At some point in the day, I let go of that lunatic notion completely and just tried to enjoy myself. And mostly, except for being tired, I did. Because everywhere I looked, I saw people having fun, real, unbridled, full-on, nerdly joy, because of what I, as one small part of a much bigger team, had put together. And baby, it felt great. Not b.s., fleeting-moment great, but deeply connected, awesome great. It was great just seeing it and soaking in it, but oh, no, that wasn't enough for the big, bad Universe, it had to send wave after wave of incredibly nice people up to me afterward to thank me for my part in giving them a great day.

Okay, okay. I get it. It's enough, for now.

One more small thing before I go, though. Because the Universe is such a meticulous motherfucker, it also has taken pains to point out to me various versions of "what if?": what if I don't do the hard stuff? What if I just do more and better of what I've been doing? What if I become outstanding at what I do? Won't that be enough?

And no. No, a thousand times no. Not by half. I've had wave after wave of mirrors put in front of me, showing me slightly different flavors of Me of One Possible Future, and no. No, thanks. I literally recoil from them. Yes, that's judging; I am also using the Remembrance to help me deal with that. I've seen possible ways, and now I know my way. I'm not sure where it leads to, ultimately, but I know that the other is the road to nowhere.

Onward. And excelsior!

And boy, wish me luck. Because like the song says, the going, she is never especially easy...


Image by eyeliam via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.