“What’s next?” seems to be the engine of modern life. What’s next on the list? What do I do next?
What if we ask, instead—
What to do about the attention hog in the audience?
A few years ago I was moderating a session at a conference, and one of the attendees seemed to harbor a desire to be the main speaker. She piped up at every possible opportunity, giving her opinion at length every time. I could see that the other people there were tuning out, and the session was losing momentum.
The next time she spoke, I leaned in, nodded throughout her first phrases, and when she stopped for breath, said, “I love your enthusiasm about this! I want to make sure we can hear from many people, so I’m going to turn your question over to this person.” Then I reoriented my body away from her.
I know this may sound harsh. But I was in charge of the room, and I had to get the other forty people back in the game. By showing them that I was aware of the impact she was having on the dynamic of the discussion, I invited them to be more vocal. The session got back on track, and we got to hear a much more diverse set of voices.
What does the you of tomorrow, literally the day after this one, need to know?
Putting the lists and appointments aside, what’s important?
What do you need to remember about yourself tomorrow in order to show up powerfully, to be generous, to be kind?
What would you write down on a Post-It and put in tomorrow’s lunch box as a reminder?
I was behind a couple of cars the other day on the two-lane road that leads out of my neighborhood. We were stopped at an unusual spot for the time of day, and it was hard to tell why we weren’t moving.
I’d been sitting there about 15 seconds when someone behind me honked. Just then, an older woman using the crosswalk came into view, making her way across the road with a walker. Suddenly we knew—we had stopped so this woman could safely cross the street.
The driver who honked didn’t know we had stopped for the older woman. But he did have other information; namely, that the drivers in front of them were waiting for something. They hadn’t suddenly decided to quit moving their cars; something had occurred that became a priority.
The not-knowing makes us feel powerless, so sometimes we act out in anger or irritation. What would it look like to acknowledge, instead, what we do know? “Well, we must have stopped for a reason, so I’ll chill out until we can move”?
We only ever know a tiny piece of the picture. Suspending our irritation and leaning into curiosity until we learn more is a great practice.