An incredible amount of upkeep is required to truly work, live and breathe our industry -- now driven by one of the liveliest marketplaces in existence. The level of business activity to survey,
digest, and synthesize runs at a feverish pitch and is very complicated. Then there's your own professional development: training, conferences, and events. And, of course you must keep up with your
network. If you're here thriving, you probably inherently want
to do all these things.
But sometimes we max out. We can only read, ponder, share, discuss and attend so much, when
our immediate business at hand seems to require all of our attention and emotional energy. Yet the context in which we operate has come to expect our sustained presence and involvement. In fact, it
thrives on our input.
During those times when you can barely handle another "Will I see you at 'Super Essential Industry Event' tonight and tomorrow night and the next night?" or when the
thought of a string of industry lunches has you panicked over the projects staring you in the face back at the office, I would offer a few approaches that are not so black-and-white to help get your
sanity back.Play the conference your way.
Yes, still go -- but do a few things off the script. One, you don't have to be there every day, especially if it's in your home
city. Carefully select the sessions you want to attend. In addition, book a few meetings with people whom you don't usually get a chance to see, around the corridors of these meetings or at a nearby
coffee shop. Approach these tete a tetes casually and with the premise of simply catching up with each other and sharing insights on some of your pursuits. Second, if you're not a panelist, but in the
audience at a session, be the person who actually asks questions
and engages the personalities on stage. If you are distracted by your current business life at large, take your mind elsewhere
for a while.Acknowledge your temporarily oversaturated mind.
Overwhelmed by your stream of weekly industry mailings and the volume coursing through your RSS? Instead of
vigilantly, dutifully slamming through the curated lot of what you've told yourself is required reading (and eventually it is), for now spend a few hours over the course of the week with longer
provocative or investigative pieces. Then pick up the phone and call (yes, call!) a few industry pals to dish on the themes, sharing thoughts with people whose point of view you respect. After all,
you don't have to wait until next time you see them at "Super Essential Industry Event" to ask their opinion, if it's an opinion you truly value and that might breathe some fresh perspective into your
own outlook. Pick up the phone today.Keep the lunch date, but rewrite it.
Of course there is such a thing as too many business lunches in a week when your life is
particularly crazy. There's nothing wrong with re-shuffling that schedule when your own duty calls. Add to the strife that you've been asked to lunch so that someone you barely know can "pick your
brain" (sure -- where do I send the invoice?) or that the point of the lunch is your being pitched, when you truly have no time or attention span during a given week; it's enough to make you crawl out
the bathroom window.
I would say, keep the best lunch dates in the lot: those with people who, if you weren't so tapped out right now, would make great lunch companions. Even if you're
showing up based on their agenda -- mild brain-picking or some form of pitching -- go with two to three things you would like to get out of the lunch. Perhaps they have some tangential area of
expertise that you might tap. Or maybe they know someone you've been dying to meet. Or perhaps they're the target market for something you and your team are marketing right now. Rewrite at least half
an hour of the lunch and make it your own. You'll leave with a sense of a much more mutual exchange that didn't bring life to a screeching halt.
During the most Zen of times, our context
can enthrall us. But when our desks and our spirits are weighted by our own business realities, it's all too easy to withdraw without thinking about the impact of such retreat. There is a middle
ground that is still productive. And you don't have to be so hard on yourself for wanting to recalibrate. You are not alone. As my friend Roger Black told me once -- and this is something I've never
forgotten: "Never cancel lunch. The other guy always will.