A few weeks ago I engaged in one of my secret pleasures: obstacle course racing. This time, I was running with a fantastic women-only team made of first-time participants. They were awesome, and really in their heads. Every obstacle we encountered stopped the team in their tracks and shifted them from doing to analyzing, strategizing—squinting at the obstacle, searching for the best way to tackle it. We lost time, and didn’t learn quickly. By the third or fourth obstacle, I’d had enough.
I see this on stage quite often, and I knew what to do. I grabbed one of my teammates (sorry, Emily) by the shirt, pulled her to the base of the 9-foot wall we needed to scale and yelled, “GO GO GO!” She frantically looked around before going for it, feeling her way through to see what worked.
A few boosts and some unsolicited help from a fellow racer, and she was over the wall in not time. In just DOING it we knew what worked and we wasted no time on too much planning. Next obstacles? We went for it and wasted no time knowing we’d feel our way through and know what was working and what wasn’t.
Planning is great, you need a plan. But sometimes your story plan (the one you’ll do on stage) emerges from the doing, not the planning. Too many people want to talk and talk and talk about what they should do, the style they think they are, and what stories to include in their greater narrative platform that best illustrate the points they’re trying to make. Is it best to put it here, put it there, what if this and what if that? This is the moment to stop, try it, and see if it works. In the drafting, do some doing.
Get up from behind your conference table, or out from the green room, or from behind the safety of your keyboard and say it out loud to see if it works. You’ll get there quicker and if it works, you’ll know why and how to make it better. If it doesn’t work, you’ll know why and what to do next. I’ve said this before, stop talking about the work, and do the work.