Major project, major stress, ugh! When you work on a major project or a new speech, what thoughts go through your head about completing it? Where is your focus? What is really important? Consider what really goes through you head. Your thoughts control the outcome and the quality of your end result.
I had been a little stressed over some deadlines and a pile of new ideas sitting on my desk awaiting attention. I pride myself on being a taskmaster and being addicted to done. Because of that thinking, I do accomplish a great deal, but sometimes it is not good, and other things in my personal life suffer.
Sometimes quality is more important, sometimes your time frame is, and sometimes it is the other way around. I’ve been a victim of trying to get too much done, and the quality of a project can suffer. So, what do you do? Whether you are working on a project at home or at work, consider the thoughts and questions that go through your mind. Different approaches yield different results. As you go through your project, what do you ask yourself? Last week I was reminded of this and thought I’d pass the idea along to you.
Three years ago Craig Valentine and I filmed Secrets of Storytelling in order to create a home-study program for a two-day boot camp. It was a major undertaking and was put on hold due to more pressing projects. For example, at the beginning of 2014 I decided to restructure my entire business and move to online learning. I halted every project and built my Stage Time University. As a result, the Secrets of Storytelling home-study program got shelved for a year and a half.
A couple of months ago, as the online University really started to come together, I decided it was time to make that home-study course my top priority. I had done months of work on it in 2013 when it was filmed. I was excited back then. As I dived back into the project and watched all of the videos we had filmed, I was re-inspired. I realized how powerful the content was.
My renewed enthusiasm had me on a roll. I was closer than I had realized to completing the project. With a little bit of direction for our editor, we could get this done in a month. Whoo hoo! Then I thought back to a conversation I had with Craig. I thought of our goal. Let me ask you this: If you are working on a new project, what are you really trying to create?
Your major project could be renovating your kitchen, but let’s use creating a new presentation for an example. Are you creating a new presentation? Or are you creating a presentation that will stand out in the crowd? Or are you creating a life-changing presentation? Or are you creating an industry-changing presentation? Each presentation requires different effort and strategy and yields different results.
The goal of just creating a new presentation has no bearing on the quality of that presentation. Though we each have our own standards, the initial question does not push you to strive for the highest quality. That must be considered.
Craig and I had decided that we wanted to create an industry-changing storytelling program. We want the Secrets of Storytelling program to be so good that people will swear by it. We want people talking about the program so that it sets a new industry standard.
So, remembering that conversation with Craig, I asked myself a better question. What would I need to do to create an industry-changing program? I knew right away that I had to go through hours of video again and again to create an easy-to-follow users’ guide and a better experience for the person going through the program. I’ve sat for hours on my bed watching the videos and creating screen shot slides to get users to reflect on the key points. With each run through, my edits are making the program better for the person who will use it. There are no guarantees, but I believe that with our goal of creating an industry-changing program, our program and the user experience will be much greater than if we had just created another storytelling program. Though I could have finished the project months ago, the question I asked myself forced me to go deeper.
Even if your project is fixing a hole in your bathroom wall, realize that the quality of your question helps determine the quality of your result. If you skip corners to save time, you may have to look at your half-hearted results every time you walk into your bathroom. That might drive you crazy. The tools you use, the help you get, and the decisions you make along the way are a result of the questions you ask along the way.
I’m thankful that this storytelling program was put on hold because I learned a great deal while creating my online University. I now know how to create a more engaging online learning program. I’m even more grateful that I asked myself a better question. That question will make the program more powerful. Think: better question, better result. When you are working on a big project, what can you ask?
Please share your thoughts and read comments from others below!
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