One of the things I’ve started to reflect upon and change over time is to stop saying “yes” to some things requested of me especially when they are not beginning to align anymore to my needs.
In the past, I was always happy to agree to do work and much of it unpaid which really, didn’t end up working out for me in any way. Sure, it was nice to attend the conference and meet some people but on the whole, it put me behind with my own work for the day and it put pressure on me to design and deliver a presentation that had to be “selected” or scrutinised by a committee before hand.
Something never sat right with me there (if they knew my work I wouldn’t have to put in a proposal to be checked and approved by some silent committee. All they need to do is to invite you to present, say the “theme is XYZ and we trust you to present something aligned to this theme for our audience of ABC” – yet I continued to submit my work to have it checked by others who don’t know my work).
For me to accept unpaid work, it had to also offer me something else in the bargain.
Usually, my deciding factor to agree to the work was whether I valued the person respecting it because they also had helped me out in some way.
For example, there’s a whole heap of people on Twitter (who I can now call my friends) who were instrumental in changing my perspective in my work and learning and who actively promoted my own work to their networks, and I’ll be eternally grateful to them.
People like that, I would happily say ‘yes’ to any day. Without question. (And, I think they know who they are).
Secondly, I would agree to the work if it meant some overseas travel so that I could use the time before the conference to explore new cultures and countries. In particular, if the work was particularly unique such that it involved me being stretched out of my comfort zone as was a recent example being the global community reporter for Microsoft Ignite at Orlando in 2019, it was an immediate yes.
Here’s what I wrote about what I learned being a reporter at Ignite. and here’s a video where Stefan and I talk about our experiences being selected to report on the event.
However, since the Covid and the lockdowns, I’ve started to radically rethink me agreeing to do presentations and the like to conferences and events that don’t align to my interests of helping people get inspired to undertake their own lifelong learning.
I’m not going to say that I feel like an imposter (for the record, I don’t. I know I’m more than capable of doing the work) BUT I do feel that me standing up and presenting to a group of people who are responsible for others in their organisation for learning and development, it seems to be a case of “do as I say not as I do”.
So I’ve added another deciding factor here to whether I take on this type of work.
That is, the conference needs to be aimed to developing the participants directly as opposed to presenting to an audience, or people in organisational roles who need to put my ideas into some kind of framework and then push others to conform to them.
The former I accept, the latter I don’t. I simply don’t believe that you can be in a role espousing learning and development if you don’t take time to change and develop yourself; if you don’t get your ideas, work and learning out there to the world.
I have a couple of opportunities this year – paid – for presenting which I’m looking forward to and I’m currently designing them to be as active and interesting as possible exploring ideas and things I’ve done myself (every thing I present is what I have done personally) but I’m now thinking that as of 2022, I’m going to change tack.
- Say no to unpaid work unless it is for a trusted good friend or for organisations helping the disadvantaged in the community
- If I want to take holidays, they will not be interspersed or mingled with work (Work and leisure must stay separated)
- If I have to submit my presentation ideas to be scrutinised or selected, I’ll decline the invitation because it’s obvious they don’t know my work.