A Humble Expert - Next Action Associates

When I ran my first seminar as a certified GTD® trainer, I was nervous and anxious to prove to the participants that I knew how GTD worked, how I use it and what a wonderful life it provided for me. I was so stressed and I did too much.

I got great reviews from everybody, but one gentleman put in his feedback the German equivalent of “She is full of herself”. Ouch, that hurt. But it was probably the single best piece of feedback I could have gotten on my first seminar. Why? Because it made me humble.

It also made me realise that being humble didn’t deprive me of wearing the expert badge on my chest!

I’ve since gone out of my way to tell people how often I have fallen off the surfboard, how often I think to myself “If my participants knew I did that”, or hit my forehead saying “geeee, and I am supposed to be the expert!”.

My participants laugh, think I am funny and most importantly, human. I convey that it’s OK to fail. It’s OK not to do it perfectly all the time, every time. As long as you have the leash on your ankle and can get back on your surfboard swiftly – that’s what GTD is designed to do; be a reliable system that is there for you when you need it.

Of course, being the expert doesn’t come with being perfect. When you watch enough of David Allen’s videos you will come across many moments when he admits that it is not about doing it perfectly right all the time, but about how fast you 1) realise that you have fallen off – or are about to fall off – your surfboard, and 2) how fast you can get back on it!

Stress is, based on the explanation given by Wikipedia, an organism’s response to a stressor such as en environmental condition.

The beginner, who has fallen off her surfboard and is swallowing heaps of saltwater (saltwater being the stressor in this case), suffers from a lot of negative stress. Ranging from: I am overwhelmed with the situation, the wave is too big, the board too small, I will fall at the worst possible moment, too much water, all the way to: where is my damn board?!

The expert takes that same fall with a very different kind of stress: oops, well that wave is bigger than anticipated. Leash attached? Check. Which side have I fallen? Check. And before you know it, a little hop and we are clambering right back on.

Experts ain’t perfect. But experts humbly trust their system. They have a routine to rely on. That routine comes with experience and experience moves you to the expert badge!

I will therefore humbly take leave, ‘cos gone surfin’!

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