Considering that I’m not great at focusing and getting things done, I’m really really good at telling others exactly what to do to get things done.
You see, I am perfectly good, and even great, at figuring out the next steps. It’s clear as day to me: Design the brochure, put together a package, mail it out, follow up with phone calls. The problem is just preventing myself from reading one just one more episode recap of Nashiville. (I’m impatient with all the drama and it’s so much more satisfying to find out where all the relationships are headed which, like every soap opera, is nowhere. Knowing the end has absolutely no impact of my enjoyment of any entertainment media or books. But that’s another blog post for another time.)
I am great a organizing my husband. At least, I am great at setting up systems for him, though whether or not he keeps to them is another story. I organize the kids’ rooms but they’re not old enough to appreciate my efforts yet.
My latest attempt at getting someone else to get things done has been aimed at my friend Dinah. She runs a small business, but the way I see it, she has only just begun to exploit the potential of it. And so I try to tell her what to do. For the record , she has told me, when asked, that my prompting and nose-sticking is not annoying for her and that she needs a kick in the pants sometimes. And so I kick. And nudge.
Here’s an example:
I’m trying to get her to do a program with a nearby restaurant. It wasn’t my idea; it was hers, and it is a good one, in my opinion. I did spend some time hashing out the details with her of what the program would look like, and how to advertise it. I even made her two Instagram posts on the spot so that she could upload them immediately and get moving. I know how hard it is to start the momentum on a project, but I also know that step one is often the hardest but that the following steps usually schedule themselves. So I told her to do just one baby step that day, and then I bugged her about getting that one task done:
It’s been almost a week since our initial conversation (though we started talking about expanding her business probably over two months ago). I sent her this text five days ago, and she didn’t do her ‘homework,’ as she calls it. I saw her again today and started in on her. She’s having a really busy week with guests from out of town and a big event this weekend, but I insisted that she just call the restaurant and book a meeting to talk to them. I promised to remind her about it in the afternoon after the lunch rush.
She hasn’t responded yet.
I know that in order to make things happen for myself, I need to make a commitment to SOMEONE ELSE. I need to commit to having some material to show someone by a certain date, with the consequence that I will either be very embarrassed about myself, or that I will let someone down if I don’t follow through.
The problem is that very often we only have ourselves to answer to, and it’s not enough. I should say that my problem (and thank heavens for my problems) is that there is nobody in particular who is going to suffer or even be disappointed by the things I neglect to do. I’m not talking about making dinner– I’m an excellent dinner improviser. I am talking about the things I dream about doing and will myself to do and even make time for myself to do, but don’t.
I don’t know that Dinah is complicated in the exact same way, but I think it’s safe to say she needs someone to answer to, and so I’ve appointed myself. This is me: The life coach. I wonder if I can make a career out of this? On the other hand, if she never follows through, I guess it’s a fail for me. What kind of life coach am I anyway, if I can’t even get a person to make a single phone call?
They say that those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.
I guess I’m a teacher.