The message matters more than the words

Hosting any kind of thing can get to be highly complicated. When you’re talking about a tournament with 700 competitors, minimal staffing and a two-hour delay, things get even more hectic. And as if that wasn’t enough: the tournament is ran primarily by high schoolers.

Yet, a couple of weeks back, I went to volunteer at my old high school’s debate tournament. As usual, the head coach delegated to me the job of overseeing the team as they planned the awards ceremony–they were to do all of the work and I was just there as support and to make sure that the team didn’t kill each other.

Thank God I was there.

With less than an hour to go before awards, the team began infighting about how their plan wasn’t in-depth enough and they didn’t know how to walk up and how to signal and how to do many thing that they really should not have worried about. Yes, awards ceremonies are important, but planning every single detail of that ceremony would have led to more confusion than actually happened.

After pulling everyone aside and having a short sharing circle (who knew those could actually be handy), I was able to talk the team into cooperating and making the most of the remaining 30 minutes.

Lesson number one: teenagers are a lot more angsty than I remember them being.
Lesson number two: at the end of the day, the competitors at the tournament didn’t remember a lick about what was said. All they remembered was the trophies.

Frame the message, the words will come later

One big swooping transition to relate this story to our society later, it’s pretty clear that this story doesn’t just apply to a band of high schoolers in an auditorium one hour before they take the stage in front of 700 of their exhausted peers.

This goes back to perfectionism.

Don’t wait, the time will never be just right

~Napoleon Hill

Some of the best lines and scenes in movies history have been completely improvised. And when it comes to acting, one of the best pieces of advice is that of improvisation. It might not work well for Mr. Biden, but in our everyday, not-highly-scrutinized lives the power of not planning works wonders.

When attention to detail is bad

Like I said before when Google changed its logo by moving one letter to one pixel to the left: details matter. Thing is, if we worry too much about how we are going to react in certain situations, we put ourselves less at risk of success and more at risk of getting flustered when things inevitably go wrong.

No amount of planning will save us from that magical moment when it all hits the fan. No amount of planning can prepare us for the fleeting sensation of our stomachs dropping into a bottomless pit. But by referring instead to an inherent knowledge of the situation rather than a detailed plan, we can better position ourselves to get back on that metaphor horse.

Feature image by Sergey Zolkin.


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