Leadership: Help, I’ve Drawn a __________!!!

Photo Credit: Julia Freeman-Woolpert

As I’m typing this blog post, my mind is trying to focus on work but mentally making that packing list for my ASTD ALC conference in DC this year, not to mention the content that I am going to write below.

Yes, I’m talking about being scatterbrained.  As I’m getting back to this, been putting out fires at work, watching a webcast on Oracle and what they are going to be doing with all their applications, answering system configuration questions, entering in training time for taking classes for the project management certification, networking on Brazen and LinkedIn, digesting the news that my report analyst has been recruited for another project, and now time to finish this blog post, again!

As a leader, doesn’t this sound like a typical day?  Interruptions, distractions, often wondering how do you keep everything straight in that head of yours – when psychologist are staying that in real life our brains only process one thing at a time!!!  How many times have we been speaking in public, on a conference call and multitasking, teaching a class, presenting a proposal and wham ______________ we’ve drawn a blank?  Sure we can say let’s make priorities, but at times, we have work environments that priorities change by the minute.

Drawing a blank when you are in front of any type of audience is one of those most awkward moments that a person may ever experience (well other than those first dates when you can’t remember the person’s name).  In these times, people will have a chance though to see that you are human and that we are vulnerable beings even when we try to hide our imperfections.  At times, I continually ask myself why prepare and stress over the information to ensure I do not draw blanks when I am speaking, performing, networking with others, etc.  I have began to conclude this little nagging voice has found its way inside of me that I should always have coherent and precise thoughts, to draw a blank would be anything different and unacceptable.  Interesting, to say the least, we have condition ourselves and expect from our leaders that silence is a bad thing.

The next time a blank is drawn, don’t apologize.  You’re brain put it there for a purpose!!!  Maybe you’re brain waves are sensing something that you are not in tune with at the moment.  Was the communication going as planned?  Was the audience paying attention?  Do you, yourself, need to stop and refocus as you are out “chasing rabbits”?  Just how much information did you expect the brain to process and keep in the short-term memory bank?  Really?  One key I’ve learned, create pauses in what you are saying…that way you’re brain knows that it has a moment of relief coming up and you can regain your thoughts for the next statement.

Please share other ideas you may have in overcoming those times that you have drawn leadership blanks and successfully overcame those!


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