After Eli and I attended Unleash the Power Within, I absorbed even more of Tony's teaching in his Time of Your Life time management course. I, too, had been to the time management courses that taught me how to prioritize my to-do list (A, B, C), and instructed me to be ruthless about doing the things on my list in the order proscribed. That particular ABC course was in 1986. I was a young college grad working for the College while Greg did his graduate work, and I actually found the concept pretty helpful. But nowhere in that or any other course until this one was the question of fulfillment addressed. TR points out that you can complete everything on your list, yet if you end up no more fulfilled than you were when you started, it's simply a to-do list. Tasks without meaning behind them are nothing more than tasks.
Contrast that with first figuring out what you want, and why, and THEN figuring out the how's, or the to-do portion of the list.
Valerie graduates tomorrow. A few weeks ago I heard she and the other seniors were going out for dinner tonight. That sparked an idea for me to host a dinner for them in our home. Well, first of all, we have a really. little. home. Big yard, yes, but small home. Where was I going to put them all (total of 13)? And from that stress-inducing question, I could go into major "how" mode, and probably come up with a plan, and probably be a-stressin about it every step of the way. Instead, I started with "What do I want?" and realized that I wanted to provide a space for the students to share a meal, make memories, laugh, and have fun together; with a menu, layout and agenda that would empower these students to be launched into their future; celebrate their accomplishments by giving them a place to just be together without any pressure to perform.
The second piece, the "why" of the "what," is also essential. It's the piece I need to have in place to refer to in the process of bringing the vision to fruition. The answer to the "why" was because I believe that making memories is a valuable, worthwhile, meaningful activity, especially when the memories involve laughter, fun, and joy.
It was at THIS point that I felt sufficiently focused to come up with the "how."
The dinner was last evening. Even though Greg was still out of town and I was therefore responsible for all the logistics myself and/or for enlisting the help of several others such as my sisters and b-in-law, I enjoyed the entire process from start to finish. Planning the menu, communicating with the students, shopping for and preparing the food, enlisting the help of Eli and two of his friends to be my "wait staff." (They were adorable, hilarious, and added a lot of fun to the proceedings). Decorating the table. Using some of the beautiful things I have (china, goblets), and enjoying the eclectic nature of the table since everything I have comes in sets of 1-8, but certainly not 12 or 13!
This concept -- getting clear about what I want, and why -- has empowered me to go beyond the mere crossing-off of things on my list. I was trying to remember this Nietzsche quote: "If you know the why, you can live any how." but I think that quote has a different emphasis than the point I'm trying to make, which is: "If you build the why, the how will come." Having a how that is fulfilling a why? That really works.
The senior dinner was easily the singularly most relaxed entertaining I have ever done, and I made all the food myself, including homemade bread! (H/T to Costco, though, for the super cake). And when I look back at the description of what I wanted, I realize I got every bit of that. And the why? Yes, it was the reason I hosted the dinner, and I think, the reason it went so smoothly.
Check it out. Time of Your Life. The Cincinnati Public library system has a few copies, and it is WELL worth listening to the CD and watching the DVD. Of course, when I came to this course, I had already been converted to this mindset of going TO something, the idea of PULL motivation, so TOYL made perfect sense.
I created a tangible memory for the seniors, which you see in the picture (to be posted later). I used the Hobbiton font that Valerie loves. On the back of the page, I put the lyrics to City of Blinding Lights. And oh, the kids looked SO beautiful last night in all their youth and potential and yet-to-be-ness.
At the end of the day, many small decisions I had made over the course of the past few weeks had come together in a lovely harmony of homemaking and hospitality.
Congratulations, Class of 2011! I am so proud of all of you!!