When what you know kills the power you need to deliver results
by Rachel Davis, Ph.D. Director of Transformation, Mekong Capital
12 June 2021
“I was already behind in my plan for attaining my story KPI. I had only completed three stories so far this year on a goal of eight”, I was drained, uninspired, discouraged, and frustrated.
It hadn’t always been this way for me.
Since I love studying and mastering new material, I had started my Mekong story journey with enthusiasm and optimism: “This was going to be relatively easy for me”. I understood the WHY behind this commitment and was utterly aligned with the intention. Having worked with people for 30 years, I had discovered much that didn’t work. Thus, this technology would take what I knew to the next level.
My plan was one story a month. From my experience, I knew what I had to do to deliver.
I blocked out a whole Saturday to write my first story. It took me 8 hours to write, review/edit, and then send. But, I was excited to share it. “Surely this would have my audience of investment team members see the huge value of coaching CEOs inside of their vision.”
Opposite to all this anticipation, from the feedback, I got that my intended message did not reach my audience at all! Our coach’s edits showed me it was even worse than I thought. The way I had portrayed my “hero” character left him with the OPPOSITE view. “OMG, how could I have left this impression?”, I fell flat on my face.
The taste of initial defeat did NOT disempower me. On the contrary, it only fueled my motivation. I appreciated what I learned, and I was confident and determined to improve. I told myself, “The next story would be a success.”
My second story: “TO BE or NOT TO BE a Mekonger” was immediately shared company-wide. Some commented that it was rich with insights. Unfortunately for me, the reception and impact fell far short of what I had hoped. I was disappointed but told myself, “It’s ok. The third time is the charm. The next one will be a success!”
Then life happened…other priorities and demands on my time and attention shoved story writing to the back of my mind. My commitment to writing a story became something I had to do with a deadline that weighed my mind. The goal of one story per month became BIGGER and BIGGER to the point that it was too big to confront now…” I will do later, not now”….and with those thoughts, my taste for writing stories had soured, and my inspiration died away.
I had to work harder NOW to get motivated. If I worked that hard, I wanted the “point” to make a big difference this third time. So I raised my standards in my mind, “The result had to be worth the effort that others would find it valuable. The message has to be worth it”.
I pushed myself to keep searching my mind for days. But as I wrote, the story kept shifting in my mind. “Who is this story’s audience…what is my point?” At least five times the direction changed, and I had to revise/rewrite inside the new context each time. Ugh. My inner voice became more critical about what didn’t work or what I should do differently. Finally, I started justifying to Hac, our Story Telling Leader, about what was taking so long.
I was stuck in the battle against myself. “If I am satisfied with my efforts, I am very open to feedback, but if I am already critical of what I have, I can’t hear anyone else’s input constructively.” Somehow what I knew had killed off all of the fun and joy. Nevertheless, I soldiered on finding a little time here and there to work on it. “All of a sudden,” the next storytelling session with all of our team members was less than 48 hours. ARGH!
In those 48 hours, I wrote, dreamt, showered, and wrote more. I wrote while in the Grab to work. I skipped breakfast to write. When I arrived at the office, I immediately sat in the library to write without even going to my desk. Finally, 5 minutes before the event, I finished editing it.
But I was NOT HAPPY. Too much force, too little inspiration. My self-criticism still tainted my experience as I read. I let myself re-experience the awful taste of my struggle and read the story with tears in my voice/eyes. “Ugh, I hated that I left my audience without the experience of victory or inspiration”. For the third time, the story did not make the impact that I had expected. So much internal judgment, bad feelings, sour taste, and so little power!
And I had five more stories to write this year.
One thing was certain, with NO POWER or FREEDOM in my being. It was certainly unlikely that I would be successful. How was I going to give myself the POWER and FREEDOM I needed?
At that moment, I realized that what I had to do was all about letting go…
I surrendered what I knew, what I had achieved, and my attachment to my past and future successes or accomplishments.
I let go of my struggle and my points of view.
I gave up being right about what I knew and how it should be.
I created a willingness to start over to be a beginner again in the game of mastery – to be willing to practice story writing without judgment, to be no good until I get sound.
My power and freedom returned at the same moment along with a compelling future – the more bad stories I write, the faster I will get better, even if that means writing a LOT of bad stories!
The funny thing is that I personally love the game of mastery. This isn’t the first time my attachments to my points of view have cost me power. Nor is it the first time I have experienced that surrender them has given me power.
As humbling as it can feel to start over, I also know from experience that the journey of mastery is access to some of the finer, most extraordinary tastes of being alive – joy, creativity, discovery, wonder, amazement, gratitude – AND to breakthrough results.
It isn’t a surprise that today, only 2.5 weeks after my struggle and surrender, I have finished 6 stories (a breakthrough RESULT). Along the way, I have laughed, learned, enjoyed the process, and celebrated life with NO SUFFERING. Are they all good stories? Probably not. But I am sure that the more I write, the closer I am to master it.
The fastest path to breakthroughs in being and results is letting go of attachments to what you already know and surrendering fully to the path of mastery, creating from an empty space to realize the future that inspires you.
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Mekong Capital makes investments in consumer-driven businesses and adds substantial value to those companies based on its proven framework called Vision Driven Investing. Our investee companies are typically among the fastest-growing companies in Vietnam’s consumer sector. For more information on Mekong Capital, please visit www.mekongcapital.com.