Episode 2 of The Joy of Procrastination.
Transcript: The Joy of Procrastination Ep002
Dean: Mr. Sullivan, I presume?
Dan: Dean Jackson, back from the underworld; back from the Southern Hemisphere, where the toilet water goes down the opposite direction.
Dean: You know, I've never paid attention to that.
Dan: Yeah, well, you know there's some people you know who just really have a grasp of the details and I'm one of them.
Dean: Oh that's so funny. How've you been? Had a good August?
Dan: Well, you know, I mean it's really interesting because I'm not sure that we've actually talked since the -
Dean: We haven't.
Dan: our first "Joy of Procrastination."
Dean: Well we recorded the "More Cheese, Less Whiskers" -
Dan: Oh that's right.
Dean: podcast and then we haven't spoken since then. I'm curious to catch up on that too.
Dan: Yeah and well I've got a real story to tell about my adventures with procrastination but what about yourself? I mean, you had a great trip to Australia.
Dean: I did. It was so good; my fourth annual once-in-a-lifetime adventure and it was so funny. I ran into Neil Strauss -
Dan: Oh yeah. That's right.
Dean: there. It was kind of funny, too that we had to go all the way to Sydney to see each other. He was speaking at a TED-equivalent kind of conference there called "The Festival." I got to -
Dean: tag along with him and see the behind the scenes at the Sydney Opera House, which was kind of cool.
Dan: Yeah that's a great, great architectural showplace, that one is.
Dan: Well I'll tell you I've been continuing on with the experiment now, I think it's going on 8 weeks close since we had our first discussion at the Le Sélect Bistro. I have kind of stayed with the framework of treating procrastination as a clarifier, procrastination -
Dan: as an energizer and motivator and I'm wondering if you've done the same thing.
Dean: I have absolutely. Whenever I sit down, I have to find when I'm procrastinating things. I think it's just shining a light on it is what it is. I don't think we're even like consciously doing it, but the way that you kind of present it, the way you kind of bring up the idea of procrastination. Not as a shameful or bad thing but I'm procrastinating this but with excitement and wonder. You know, what am I procrastinating today?
Dean: It's been amazing because I'll sit and I'll look and I couple it with your idea really of only doing the 3 things, like laying out this is the 3 things. I kind of wake up and say, "okay what have you got for me today, procrastination?" It's so amazing that there's always an answer.
Dean: I'm kind of interested to see that a lot of the times, the things that I feel that feel the most urgent are things that are attached to other people.
Dan: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Here's what I've done just to bring you up to speed and I know you're going to be in the workshop so you'll actually go through this. I've created a complete exercise that I think is the equal of the strategy circle or the experience transformer or the impact filter, which are really the backbone of Strategic Coach.
Dan: I've done it 6 times now in workshop settings and I get exactly the same result and it's the same result that we've noticed right from the beginning. Everybody gets exactly the same result.
Dean: Oh that's so exciting. I'm anxious to hear about it because I was with J.J. Virgin last night and then today and she was trying to explain it but she couldn't recall without her notes so why don't I get it straight from the source?
Dan: Yeah. Well, you know, the first thing every September before I actually start my quarterly workshops, so my workshop schedule is 2 months out of every 3. This particular one starts in September and finishes in October, and then in November I don't have any Strategic Coach workshops. We always have a company meeting the Wednesday after Labor Day. Labor Day is always on a Monday so we always have them. This is one that is live in Toronto but then we have everybody in by teleconference, video conference from Los Angeles -
Dan: Chicago, London. It's 8 time zones. We have people spread over 8 time zones - 120 people. I always get an hour to do something in this. It's about a 6 hour thing and we introduce new people to the company, bring everybody up to date on the finances and all sorts of things.
Anyway, I had actually created the actual exercise on the Labor Day and then I went in on the Tuesday and I had it all laid out, you know our computer artists can do this stuff very quickly because it's their usual routine. We had the whole thing put out together and I even had sample copies so I always put my example, my real stuff so that they can see how I've used it and then and we presented it. I have to tell you, Dean, I don't think I've ever done anything in the history of the company that so landed with my team. I mean, I have great results with entrepreneurial clients, but this is the first time I had the same kind of impact with my team that I have with the 6 client workshops that I've had since then.
Dan: Really, really edge to them. I just want to tell you a couple insights that came out of it. One, it's very emotional because there were people who were actually crying when I -
Dean: Really? Wow.
Dan: more or less lifted the burden that this was shameful off their shoulders. I says, "look, everybody does this." I mean there's 7.3 billion on the planet and everybody does this every single day about something. You could just see this wave of relief that went over the room but then afterwards, I had 9 separate conversations with team members who came up, and you know I don't have an office. I just have a table in my big café. We have a 50 feet café at the company and I just have a table. People come up and usually I'll talk and chat and people will pass by and I'll say, "hello," but these were all sit down conversations. Someone would come up to me and sit down and he says, "I want to talk about what you did and I have to tell you something. Never in a million years would I believe that Dan Sullivan procrastinates -
Dean: Yeah I get it.
Dan: because you look so focused and you always look in command." I said, "isn't that interesting how we're all really good at theater?"
Dean: Yes. That is true.
Dan: We always put on a good outside show. We talk about it because both of us when we're talking, we talk about our backstage. Everybody sees our front stage but we talk about what's actually going on behind the scenery, you know? I said, "yeah I procrastinate a lot" and they said, "but this is such a relief to know that you procrastinate."
The other insight is that everybody procrastinates but they think other people don't.
Dean: Yeah, isn't that interesting because it is like one of those shadow things that everybody kind of feels... Well I can't speak for everybody but it feels like something that is a private; everybody would look at it as a character flaw or a weakness that they have, and like we said, kind of shameful when they're talking about it as if we got to "buck up" and stop that procrastinating.
Dan: Well, the other thing I realized that a large number of the motivational speakers that populate the stages of conferences around the world. There's a lot of them that actually present it as something negative and that you have to not allow yourself to procrastinate. It's like a sinful activity that you're doing and an indication that you're a bit of a loser if you procrastinate.
Some of the people who've been in the company, we have 25-year people in the company, they came up to me and they said, "you know, this has been sitting there behind the scene for every workshop with every entrepreneur that we've done over 25 years. We've had over 17,000 people come and this never got talked about in all 17,000." I've personally done 2,300 workshops, the company's done about 5,000 workshops, just tens of thousands of hours and this topic has never been discussed once except, you know somebody says, "well, I was procrastinating," and then it's just a throwaway line.
Dean: I bet that word gets used a lot in -
Dan: It's like masturbate or something like that, you know. No, I mean it's in the same category of a shameful, private act that you don't talk to other people about.
Dean: Absolutely. There's another podcast for us.
Dan: Yeah, well I'm going to stay with the procrastinate one. Families are going to listen to this, Dean. We've got to give a little bit of care here.
Dean: That's it. How have you evolved the process then of acknowledging waking up and asking, "what have you got for me today, procrastination?"
Dan: Here's the thing. You know all my forms are sort of processes on paper.
Dean: Yeah. I love it.
Dan: This one has 3 parts to it and I've done the form, it's an 8.5 by 11 sheet but I turned it sideways so you start at the left and you go across to the right. There's a first column that just says, "First tell the truth," and you just brainstorm in the first column so if you just do it point form you could do as many as 10 things, you know. I just started off, I gave a little bit of an overview and I said, "look, middle of July I came to a sudden discovery that there's a thing that's called procrastination and it's been living rent-free in my brain for 72 years."
Dan: Not doing a bit of work, living off my energy, probably using up part of my daily calorie intake -
Dean: Just to maintain it, yes.
Dan: it's just sitting there and it hasn't done a bit of work, and I would say probably if I put all the time during the day that I'm procrastinating on something or at least procrastination has stopped me from doing anything useful, probably maybe an hour of my workday times. I've been in the workplace since I was 18 so 54 years, rent-free, not doing a lick of work, and I said, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to put up with this anymore," so I said, "from this day forward, I'm going to have procrastination do a lot of work and I'm going to live off the energy of procrastination for the rest of my life." Everybody perked up, I mean -
Dean: Yeah beautiful.
Dan: Somebody actually said the word procrastination in public and admitted that they procrastinate all the time so it's like the opening of an AA meeting. My name is Dan and I'm a procrastinator.
Dean: Right, right, right.
Dan: I mean, I'm told that's how they open up and actually I've got a connection to AA with it because the 12 step program, the first step is tell the truth.
Dan: All progress starts by telling the truth, that's Bill Wilson, who was in on the beginning of Alcoholics Anonymous. The reason is that addiction is the kind of the end of the line for continually lying about something, then lying about the lie that you did and then lying about that lie. Eventually you've told so many lies and it's driving your brain crazy. You have to deaden the pain and various kinds of addictions are the way you do that.
Well, I think that there's something about procrastination that you're not telling the truth. One, you're not telling yourself that you're actually procrastinating, and then you're not telling the truth about why you're procrastinating so there's something of a not telling the truth. In other words, to put procrastination to work, you've got to tell the truth that I am procrastination, these are my procrastinators. Then you do that real fast, 3 minutes. I just give people 3 minutes and people say, "well, can you explain what you mean by procrastination?" I said "yeah the key word is 'should.' You have a should word that either you should do something but you haven't done it, or you shouldn't do something and you haven't stopped doing it." I think it can go one way or the other. You're procrastinating either starting something or stopping something.
Dan: Then I give some examples. It could be in business, could be personal, could be with your fitness and health. The number of things that people tell themselves they should or should not do, it's 360 degrees and it covers a universe of things but the word "should" really, really means that you have an obligation, you feel an obligation but you don't have a commitment.
Dean: Mm-hmm. I think that's true, absolutely.
Dan: Then what I say, "okay now real quick, pick the 1 that's the biggest for you that if you acted on it, you'd have the biggest payoff." Then I said, "one thing I want to get across that procrastination is trapped energy, so you're not getting the value of that energy right now. If you break through the procrastination, then all the energy that's been trapped and stored up, you get the benefit of that and there's a real payoff to it. It's not just you're not procrastinating. It actually will create a breakthrough of some sort in your life."
They put down the 3 top ones and I said, "you kind of can feel which, you know if you put down 10 things, you can say these are the 3 that I should go after." Now I said, "I'm going to come back to the fact that you're brain can immediately tell you the 3 top ones because that's how we're going to build procrastination into our daily life. Every day we're going to get procrastination to tell us what the most important things are we should be doing."
Dan: Then with each of them I say, "now very briefly, say why you're procrastinating." This is a real eye-opener for most people, Dean, because what they find that it's a very small thing.
Dan: It's a 5-minute phone call that they can have with someone. It's a decision that they can make in 30 seconds or it's a very, very fast action and the thing that this is another insight is that it's not big things. It's usually 1 little nagging thing but they build it up to be something really big but it's actually really quite small when they just isolate the reason. Did you find that too?
Dean: I did, absolutely. It blends so perfectly with my observation that often when I'm procrastinating something, I'm referring to it as the big thing. I'm referring to it just by the noun of it. I should do this, but I'm not doing it. I'm not setting it up as an actionable verb. That's how I look at the things where I'm going down a path of being focusing on it and asking the question of why are you procrastinating? What the information that's missing or I'm not crystal clear on how that whole lot works. You know?
Dan: Yeah. It's really it's just such an interesting phenomenon. Again, if I add up all the numbers of people in the 6 meetings I have, I'll put it together real quickly, it's about 450 people in the last 2 weeks today. 2 weeks today was my first presentation. I've done 6 total but around 450 people and I would say to a person, they all have the same breakthrough. They said, "you mean we can talk about procrastination?" I said, "yeah. The number 1 problem of why procrastination is such an issue is that you feel you can't talk about it. It's not something that can be openly discussed."
Dean: Yeah. I wonder, I'm thinking out loud here because often when I look at this, I've been asking that question like, "what am I procrastinating?" Maybe the answer, some of the things that I've been getting are the things that I have to do. I loved your words of using should as an indicator when you say, "well I should do this." I wonder if I'm getting things confused there because some of the things that I look at are getting clarity in that morning question of what am I procrastinating.
Often what comes up are things that I have to do, things that are imminently approaching deadlines or commitments that I've made to other people. Certainly they always involve other people. Now I'm seeing a different flavor of the kind of things that you're talking about, some of these "should" things are where there's not an urgency around them. It's almost like they're things that can slide by being pushed away because they're not becoming urgent.
Dean: That might be a deeper level actually. That may be like the -
Dan: Here's the thing, you know. You and I because of the very similar Colby profiles and very topping off the quick start 1 because we're both 10's in quick start. We are natural people to fall into procrastination.
Dan: Okay and I'll tell you why and that is that we can see into the future and see a reality that's a bigger and better reality. We see it so vividly that we really emotionally engage with it in such a way that within our mind we're kind of obligated now. We've seen it so vividly and we feel it so emotionally, we feel kind of obligated now that we have to act on that but the last time I talked to you, you made a really wonderful time distinction. That thing we're seeing is in a timeless zone.
Dan: The moment we come back from the vision, we're now in real time and immediately seconds are ticking off the clock that we aren't doing anything about it.
Dean: Right. To me it's so funny because I've often said to people that I spend so much time in the future, and that's where ideas are really is in the future, envisioning a bigger, better, brighter future, that living in the present almost feels like living in the past.
Dan: Yeah and the thing is that people who are really, really great, and visionaries are, so the people who are the biggest goal-setters and the most ambitious people for a bigger, better reality are just automatic set up people for procrastination. The reason is because just quite logically, anything that you can see bigger and better, you're vision is bigger than your capability and confidence.
Dean: Mm-hmm. That's it exactly.
Dan: You don't have the wherewithal yet to get to that thing, which doesn't bother you if you're just operating in a timeless zone. I don't think people in Heaven procrastinate because they don't have any time. It could be this century, it could be next century, it's all the same thing. We live in a gravitational system where time only goes forward and the clock is ticking and we only have so much of it in a lifetime.
The moment that we engage emotionally with a vision where there's some sort of obligation in our mind, "I've got to move in that direction," you're in real time and you feel the clock ticking. If you go a day, a week, a quarter and you don't take any action, you're feeling a building pressure, or you're feeling like a loser because you're not acting on something that you saw so clearly and vividly.
Dean: Mm-hmm. I think you're right. It's a dissonance, for sure.
Dan: Yeah and you're doing it in secret.
Dean: Right and feeling shameful about it.
Dan: Feeling shameful, you know? You're feeling shameful and even though you know other people don't procrastinate you have a suspicion they can see you procrastinating.
Dean: Oh it's so funny. Let me see if I get this process here then. So the first part -
Dan: Okay so I've already taken you through 2 of them.
Dean: The first 2 steps, right.
Dan: About 2 years ago, we introduced a process called the 4 C's. Okay? Just for our listeners here, it's just my experience that there's kind of like 4 different energy states that anybody who gets anything done engages with and there's a particular order you have to do it in if you're creating something new.
There's a lot of people who can envision big things. They have an accelerator that allows them to visualize bigger and better things, but they have a natural brake that says, "I can only do that if I have the confidence and right now I don't have the confidence to do that. If somebody gives me the confidence, then I can do that." I say, "well you wouldn't have the confidence unless you had the capability."
Confidence is the 4th C and capability would be the 3rd C. If you think of 4 boxes, 2 up and 2 across, then on the left-hand side you have confidence. Confidence is very easy because you have the confidence to do it and capability is what gives you that confidence. The problem is that when you see something bigger and better, you actually don't have sufficient capability and confidence to do that thing. It actually has to be created and so the thing that creates it is you have to make a commitment before you have the capability and confidence, which means by a certain date, so you only make a commitment if you put a date on it; got to have a deadline.
The second thing is you got to a measurable result that's going to be achieved on that deadline. You go to Sydney and you say, "I'm going to do 4 breakthrough blueprint sessions when I'm in Sydney. Each of them is going to have 12 and I'm going to put them on these dates." The reality isn't there yet when you put it out in an commitment, but you've put a deadline and probably 4 deadlines if you have 4 events. Then you've said, "and they will be a success because I'll have 12 per each breakthrough blueprint and I'll have 48 people total." Your brain can immediately engage with that but right now you don't have the capability and the confidence yet because you haven't actually done the marketing, you actually haven't filled them. That requires courage.
The first C is commitment, the second C is courage, and it's the combination of commitment and courage with a bigger vision in mind that actually then actually creates the capability and actually creates the confidence. That's how new things get created in the world. It's all 4's, like there's 4 cylinders in an engine, and the engine of achievement actually you have to engage all 4 but you have to engage commitment and courage before you get capability and confidence.
Dan: Okay so what happens when people procrastinate is they're not actually engaging with any one of the 4 boxes.
Dean: Interesting. They're not on any of the levels.
Dan: Think of something, give me an example of something which was a long-time procrastination. You acted on it at a certain point and it happened quite quickly but you went a long way before you did it.
Dean: Let's say writing the book -
Dean: would be a good example of that.
Dan: Yeah. Well I can remember how the whole -
Dean: I remember. I know.
Dan: company. I can remember the commitment that you made.
Dean: Exactly. I was thinking of exactly that. If I look through this situation -
Dan: I remember we were in London together, when you made the, London, England. -
Dean: I was just going to say.
Dan: in the UK and I said, "I'm going to write a book in 30 days. What are you going to do?" No, "I'm going to write a book in a week." That's what I said.
Dan: Yeah, what are you going to do? You said, "well I'm going to write a book in a week, too." You had to name the date and the measurable result.
Dean: We set up the time for our workshop that was coming up.
Dean: We both decided, yeah we were going to have a book at the workshop. That was the commitment. That's right.
Dan: Yeah but you didn't have the capability and confidence then to write a book in a week.
Dan: You had the commitment to do it and it was going to require courage in a very short period of time because we had such a short deadline. In that week you actually acquired the capability and the confidence that you, Dean Jackson, can write a book in a week.
Dean: Yes. That's exactly what happened.
Dan: There was a lot of procrastination. I used to talk to you. It wasn't even a book, it was book. It was like this monster in the dark, you know.
Dean: That's right. Yeah.
Dan: You were up to chapter 36 but you knew 36 couldn't possibly be the last chapter.
Dean: I'm not done yet. I don't want to see how it ends. Yeah.
Dean: That is funny. That process, yeah you're absolutely right so that's part of the -
Dan: What I have, you know, we have the big, it's not a big card but it's a separate card for the 4 C's. On the form, I actually have little very, very small 4 C's and you have 3 of them, so you have the 3 procrastinations and you say, "okay you know why you're procrastinating because you've answered the question in the second column. Now what I want you to do is say what your commitment is, date and result and state the courage. The best way to state the courage is what you're afraid of, that you're actually going to go through. 'I'm afraid I will do a lot of work and it's not going to amount to anything.'"
That's great. It requires courage to go through that fear. At the deadline you produce the result, then what's the new capability you have and what's the higher confidence you have? It takes about 6 minutes to do the 4 C's and the whole room just elevates because this is very quick. The whole thing, I've taken them through with all explanations, all conversations, I've taken them through in 20 minutes. They've moved through 3 really big things that in some cases have been there for a year and just enormous amount of nervous energy, enormous amount of really negative feelings about this, all secret. Not talking to anyone about it, feeling a lot of pressure, people not saying why they feel pressured, and they're through it in like 20 minutes.
Dean: Mm-hmm. Wow. It's so nice to have because everybody's familiar with that 4 C's process and to combine it with applying it now to this new process of identifying your procrastination.
Dan: Yeah. What I'm doing for everybody in Coach during this quarter, I'm going to give them a writable pdf of the form. Right during the workshop, we send everybody a writable pdf. You can treat it like a very good software program, because you can cut and paste, and just put in everything and that leaves a vacancy. The first column gets shorter if you cut 3 things out, so you can say well just keep your column filled because every day you're going to be procrastinating about something.
Dan: Then everyday just knockoff the top 3 and let the top 3 procrastinations tell you the most important things that you handle for that day. It will be actually the best things that you could possibly handle on that day. The things you're procrastinating about the most that if you transform them into action and communication, will automatically be the best thing you can do on that day.
Dean: Wow. This is going to be fascinating. It creates a throughput system for it now.
Dan: Yeah and the big thing is saying, "well don't we want to get over procrastination? Don't we want to stop it?" I said, "well you'd have to stop having goals to do that."
Dean: Right. It doesn't make any difference. It's the raw material to put in on the conveyor belt here.
Dan: Yeah it's the cow that generates the milk. You're just allowing the cow to self-milk itself and deliver the bottles to you.
Dean: Yes. You've been doing this now for 8 weeks, you're saying approximately?
Dan: I didn't come up with the process I just described until the Monday of 2 weeks ago.
Dean: Oh Labor Day, right.
Dan: Yeah, Labor Day, so I've been doing this for 25 years so once I get the essence of the result of a process, I can lay them out real quick -
Dean: Create the tool. Mm-hmm.
Dan: but I wanted to test with my team before I did it in an actual workshop and it was just a slam dunk. We were away, I mean, we did this and then we went away to Chicago but all the team leaders who were back in Toronto and then the other locations, they said it was 1 of the most active and productive weeks that they'd ever seen in the history of the Coach. You had 120 individuals basically activating 3 really, really important things.
Dean: Right. Yeah I think that's something you do so brilliantly is create the tools, the thinking process that you can actually sit down with a piece of paper and go through a process and feel so much better after doing it.
Dan: Well what I like in my process that I've learned how to do, and I think I have a really unique ability here, is that I can create a structure where you can have a very focused and multi-dimensional conversation with yourself.
Dan: It isn't that this is about talking with other people, it's actually you've never actually talked to yourself about this and I'm going to give you a chance over the next 20 minutes to have a really good conversation with yourself on how something that's been energy-draining, negative, even shameful can be a source of daily clarity and energy and motivation.
Dean: Yes. I love it. Just doing that, having that every day as the process to go through -
Dan: I do it every day. I was just doing that on paper kind of like you were just making a list and I said, "well those are the top 3 so let's act on them." I'm in a 10 quick start the moment I see that the door is open, I just go through it. For me, the 6 weeks previous to putting the process together, I would just make a list in the morning or the night before and I'd say, "what are the 3 biggest procrastinations?" Then I would just structure my day that way and it wouldn't be all I did the next day, but it would be the ones that I activated first. What I found they generated, that trapped energy that the procrastinations have is like jet fuel. It isn't that you're just going to do a neat thing, but you get the energy from taking the action, but you also get the trapped energy from all the time that you weren't doing it.
Dean: Yeah and I think what you free up then is that you eliminate the backlog of all of the things that are waiting behind that. I often find that my sort of the thing for procrastination is that I often replace. It's not something else that's productive and forward-moving that I'm replacing the thing I'm procrastinating with on. It's usually something of even much less importance that's the activity that you end up doing while you're under that spell of procrastinating.
Dan: Yeah and it's really funny. Dean, I have to tell you I've never had in the history of the Coach, you know going back since it was a formal workshop program, I've never had a concept that seems to just have infinite dimensions.
Dean: Mm-hmm. Yeah I mean it's something. Do you remember Ned Hallowell saying something about, not the procrastination, it's what we're doing while we're procrastinating that leaves the clues. Something like that. Do you remember what he was talking about? I don't recall the details of it. It seems like maybe there's something there that this might fit.
Dan: Yeah. I'd go back and take another look. Ned, he says that it's a peculiarly heavy burden for people who have some form of ADD. I can attest to that because I am and I know we've both talked about and we're both subject to that. I feel it very intensely. I've got 70, you don't remember the first 6 or 7 years, but I can remember being in early grade school and being aware of this kind of like private agony, you know?
Dan: Why am I not finishing my homework? I've got chores why am I not doing my chores? It's always been with me. I can never remember a time when it wasn't with me.
Dean: I relived this. I think I shared with you, I was looking through some of my old report cards that I found and again and again, the pattern was, "Dean is able to achieve excellent results with what seemed like little effort. Imagine if he applied himself." I was reading through some of these things and I recall, like I remember in 7th grade, I think I can tell you this now, Dan, because the statute of limitations I believe is over from 1974-ish or '77.
Dan: I think you're out of the jurisdictional area anyway.
Dean: I think so too. Yes, exactly. I've got diplomatic immunity on that. In 7th grade, and I'm not proud of this Dan, but I actually feigned losing my biology notebook so that the discovery of that I hadn't been doing my homework and documenting my things would not be discovered. I'd been procrastinating that and then it still even pains me to say it, but I said that I lost my notebook.
Dan: Yeah. Well I can one-up you on that one.
Dan: Okay so back in the very early 1980's, I had a friend who was a member of Parliament in Canada. I'm born in the states but I've lived here for 45 years. I did an amazing job on a particular report because I'm a writer and an artist, so I was able to put together probably the most powerful government report on the issue of disabled and handicapped people that's ever been produced by any government in the world. This set the standard and it was interesting, it was punchy, it had a lot of photographs in it. I was an advertising guy and the headlines and you want really great, strong graphics. Well government documents are just very, very, they're designed not to be read.
Anyway, so I did it and all of a sudden I got a lot of contracts, and I was doing this while I was coaching because you were getting cash flow any way you could get it in the early days. I got a Cabinet Minister in the Canadian government, it's like a Cabinet Secretary in the American government. I had an assignment that I had to present to them and it was a project. It was a writing and layout artist and I didn't have it and I just got this idea of how I could go into that meeting without what I had promised and I would get everybody so excited about another idea that they would forget that I was supposed to.
People don't realize that this is how 10 quick starts actually operate and what I'm telling you is that this isn't the first time in my life that I've done this. The stakes were really high with this one and you'll understand the moment I tell you what my solution was. I went in and Cabinet Ministers in the Canadian government are, it's the worst of all political worlds.
You are a member of Parliament so you have to take care of the fact that people's pension check didn't get delivered in your home neighborhood, but you're also the head of a bureaucracy, and everyday you have to go into question period. In the Canadian system you get hit by questions that you don't know are coming and you have to run for office every 3 or 4 years. It's just a kind of an impossible type of office.
I said, "you know, Mr. Minister, you're responsible for a lot and it looks like you're doing 15 things. You know if we went down the road and we kind of know when the next election is going to be, you can't accomplish everything." I named 2 years in the future and I said, "2 years from now, let's say it's the day before the election, what are the 5 achievements that you would really, really want to have? Of all the things you're doing, what would the 5 achievements are?" I caught everybody's attention and I went to a flip chart and I started writing it on the right-hand side. I said, "I'm just going to put this on the right-hand side," and so we got this. This was the day, it was a particular date. It was September of, I think, 1984 since this is 1982.
I said, "Okay so these are the results," and I said, "now let's back up to today. What are all the obstacles that would prevent that?" You can see what form I'm talking about the strategy circle.
Dean: Of course.
Dan: I listed 10 strategies and I said, "so what would we do with the first one?" We talked for about 15 minutes and my time for that appointment had come up and I said, "you know, I wanted to show you what I produced for you but I just felt that there was some clarity needed." They said, "look, can we have another meeting when we can finish this?" I said, "absolutely," and they named it 2 weeks. 2 weeks later I had the project that I had promised finished, and I walked in so I was a double hero, having walked in as a potential huge embarrassing failure.
Dean: Wow. Quick start to the rescue.
Dan: That's where my strategy circle, in that moment I created the strategy circle and I came out of the meeting and I said, "I've just invented water." I said, "you know. I could make a living just doing what I did," and that's when I started making a living using the strategy circle.
Dean: Do first one-on-one and then in groups, that's amazing. I have never heard that -
Dan: No, I mean this is full disclosure hour that we're having here so you might as well.
Dan: Here's the thing about that, what you and I just shared, we've known each other for a long time and neither of us have ever admitted to that, but because we've given ourselves permission to talk about procrastination, we can bring that up and talk about it in a very kind of an enlightening way.
Dean: Yes. Absolutely. I think there's something interesting about the way that we build, I'll call them coping mechanisms or workarounds, that we develop the ability to get things done. It's interesting because I've found that procrastination -
Dan: And generally look good doing it.
Dean: Absolutely. We made the smart decision. I think you're absolutely right. That's exactly right.
Dean: I think about the back to the idea that triggered the 4 C's for me with the creating the book before that workshop has created such a great solution that it's become a separate business unit for us in helping people actually overcome the procrastination of writing that big book. It's created a system to get the result without all the procrastinating.
You look at that. There's actual high-level proof of something wonderful, some very significant things for both of us -
Dan: Oh yeah.
Dean: that were fueled out of procrastination.
Dan: Oh yeah totally. That's why I'm so excited and I'm approaching dinner hour here, but I think this has been a wonderful get back in touch after.
Dean: Yes absolutely.
Dan: Then tomorrow morning you'll have the actual experience of the process and I know we're meeting again, we're having lunch on Saturday.
Dean: Saturday, that's right.
Dan: On Sunday we can do another "Joy of Procrastination."
Dean: I would love that. That would be great.
Dan: I just think that we've really hit the mother lode with this one. I just want to tell you something that's been wonderful as far as our organization goes and I've told all the clients this. I said, "you know I suddenly realize as we've been investigating this procrastination thing, that for the last 25 years, the individuals that we have which are called Program Advisors," these are our sort of coaches between workshops and we have about a dozen of them in the company. They call the participants in Strategic Coach and say, "how are you doing?" They're called Focusing Calls and some people do it every couple of weeks and some people never do it but they're available -
Dean: I'm one of those. I've never done it. Yeah.
Dan: -and I said, "I just suddenly realized that all of you entrepreneurs have been confusing our Program Advisors. They phone you and they kind of know what it was you said you were going to do and you say you haven't done it because you had this problem, and you had this problem, and this problem, and this problem. They're follow-through people so they write down your problems. -
Dean: They believe you.
Dan: "Yeah they believe. First of all, you're a salesperson so you can really sell the people that you have a problem. They come back to me and they said, 'you know our program is really deficient because we don't have a tool for this problem and we don't have a solution for this problem, and they're continually feeling the enormous deficiency of our program because we haven't anticipated this problem.'"
I said, "you know, I kind of bought into it and here I am late at night and on weekends, thinking about how I'm going to solve these problems and now I realize there's just one problem. You're procrastinating and you're just making up a lot of shit. You're just making up this stuff because you have a problem called procrastination. You only have one problem," and I said, "when you're in the 4 C's, you know you don't have the capability and confidence but you're fully engaged with commitment, you're fully engaged with courage, and you know you can utilize the capability and confidence that you have. When you're procrastinating, you are not engaged at all and you're hallucinating and you make up all these problems. We only have problems when we're procrastinating, we have challenges when we're engaged."
Dean: That's great.
Dan: It's been a great relief. I said, "now all you in this group, Christy or Barb or Sarah is going to phone you and I want you to know, if you tell her a problem, she's going to say, "you don't have a problem, you're procrastinating."
Dan: So what's the challenge?
Dean: Now work it through. What's the challenge? Why?
Dan: What's the commitment? What's the courage that's going to be required and let's get on with it.
Dean: That's so great.
Dan: You know it's true. It's like going into one of those boat tanks, you know where they sensory deprivation -
Dean: I love that. I'm going to actually do that on, yeah.
Dan: Good, I mean you can't see, you can set it up this way so it's -
Dean: There's one right across the street from me here in Yorkville.
Dan: Yeah, you can set it up so it's completely still, it's completely dark, and of course after a while you can't feel anything because you're in salt water and everything. After about 4 or 5 minutes, your mind having nothing from the outside to work on it starts going after your brain. You start hallucinating and they use it for torture. The CIA in Guantanamo, they use this stuff for torture because if you've got somebody who's the least bit claustrophobic and you put him where he's got no senses coming, they'll betray anybody in 5 minutes.
Dean: Yes. That's it. Very funny.
Dan: Just look at the variety of insights we've had over the last 8 weeks from just a simple conversation.
Dean: Yeah I'm fascinated by it and the raw material is endless.
Dean: Every day there's an answer. What am I procrastinating today?
Dan: I've got other podcast series where I have to do some serious preparation for what are we going to talk about this time, but I have to tell you with this one, you're actually having the insights as you're talking about it.
Anyway, Dean, just to sum up and then we'll rejoin the subject very quickly.
Dean: Yeah absolutely.
Dan: What was your take? What are some takeaways from tonight?
Dean: I love the coupling of the 4 C's as an embedded thing within this procrastination process. What are you calling this by the way?
Dan: It's called Procrastination Priority, that the procrastination actually determines your priority.
Dean: Yes okay. That's a perfect name for it. I love that process. I'm looking forward to going through it tomorrow in the workshop and putting it right into action. I've been asking the question and just making the list every day, but now having the process of putting it in kind of a throughput system is going to be even more powerful.
Dan: Yeah and then everybody gets to discuss it in groups. We have group discussions so it's very, very rich, heartfelt, very, very energy-creating conversation when the whole room can talk about their procrastinations. Life that they thought that they had to keep secret, everybody being given permission to talk about it. You get a tremendous feel about who people actually are when they talk about that.
Dean: Right. I can't wait.
Dan: That's what I got. I was really excited today because I was really looking forward to our phone call tonight to bring each other up to date and I'm sure it's going to be that way every time we reconnect for "The Joy of Procrastination."
Dean: I think you're right, absolutely. Well you go and get some dinner and I will see you in the workshop tomorrow and then we will have more raw material to propose and do another episode on Sunday.
Dan: Yeah. Okay.
Dean: Thanks, Dan.
Dan: Okay. Have some joy.
Dean: Thank you. Bye.