Stay tuned, but first a note from your sponsor—Me!
If we’re not yet well acquainted, you don’t know how much I love the game Six Degrees of Separation. (Now you do. *smiles*) I’m pleased to show you how fate works in my life, our lives…and we’re all connected by no more than six degrees.
I’m going to give you the short version of my connection to Romney—Our paths almost crossed several times many years ago when we lived in the same neighborhood in Orlando, Florida, and then five years ago at a writer’s conference in Oklahoma. But we were always slightly out of sync. Apparently, Jodi Thomas and Texas did the trick. We met in the dorm at the Writer’s Academy in Canyon, Texas.
Romney is one of the “go-to” people in my life when I’m trying to figure things out. She’s wise and funny, and you, too, can be connected to Romney Nesbitt, Creativity Coach, author, artist and teacher.
Jodi Thomas gave me this little blue elephant. He’s about four inches long with black plastic eyes, green felt ears and an orange tail. He sits next to my laptop—as a reminder. (See elephant below.)
A few years ago Linda and I led a workshop at Jodi’s Writers’ Academy at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. In the workshop I cautioned writers about “approaching elephants.” The next time I saw Jodi, she told me the information about approaching elephants had “changed her life,” and then she handed me this elephant as a thank you gift. That’s when I realized that Jodi Thomas, RITA award winning romance author, has the same problem I have—approaching elephants. An “approaching elephant” is any request for your time or talents with two characteristics: the deadline is usually months away and you really have no interest in doing the task. You’ll know you’ve adopted an approaching elephant when you say “Yes,” when you really wanted to say “No.” I’ve done this because:
• I couldn’t think of a nice way to say “No”
• I’m a people-pleaser
• I kidded myself into thinking the task wouldn’t take much time
• I chose to ignore my gut feelings
• I wanted to feel important (ego)
Here’s how it happens: someone asks you to do something for them. This “something” is a task or commitment with a deadline a few months into the future. Once you agree to do the task the elephant magically materializes. To give you a visual, imagine a small black dot on the horizon line. This dot is the task/elephant. Now the elephant is far away in the distance, you can hardly see the elephant, much less smell or hear him, but he is there. As time passes the elephant comes closer. As soon as you can see him clearly you begin to feel the weight and dread of your unmet (and unwanted) responsibility. A week before the deadline, a full-grown elephant is camped in your front yard leaving smelly piles on your lawn. The day before the deadline he’s banging his trunk on your door demanding to be let into your house. Unfortunately, that elephant-sized task has to be done NOW.
How to keep elephants away:
• NEVER say yes immediately. Stall. Tell the person, “I’ll have to check my calendar. I’ll call/email you in the next couple of days.”
• You can say “No.” A request for your time is a request. When you say no, the asker will move on to the next person on their list.
• Just because you’re good at X, doesn’t mean you have to do X whenever you’re asked to share your X-pertise. Someone else may need to gain X-perience—let them.
• Examine your motive. Do you owe a favor, want to be liked, need a favor in the future?
• Estimate the hours involved in the project and double them to account for phone calls, emails, meetings, etc. Do you really have that much extra time to burn?
• Know your career goals. Any distraction will delay completion of your book, painting etc.
• Get a toy elephant to remind you to use your time for your career goals—not someone else’s.
For more information on elephants, nice ways to say no, procrastination, self-sabotage, noble substitute activities and time management read my book, SECRETS FROM A CREATIVITY COACH, available from my publisher, AWOC.com or on amazon.com.
Better yet, ask me to speak at your group’s next meeting or conference. For quick answers to tough questions read my advice column, “Ask a Creativity Coach,” in the Business of Art section of any issue of ART FOCUS OKLAHOMA MAGAZINE, www.ovac-ok.org. Archived issues are available at www.issuu.com/ovac.
For more information on Jodi Thomas’ Writers’ Academy click on the link and look under Community Programs/Writers’ Academy. It’s my favorite conference—ever! Great teachers, relevant information and Texas hospitality.
Linda here. I hope you’re able to wrangle the Approaching Elephants in your life. If you need assistance, Romney’s a great person to teach you the ropes. And, I want you to know that Romney is the cover artist for SECRETS FROM A CREATIVITY COACH, along with the other illustrations in her book.