The Story Economy Blog

Why the Best Moments Are Ill-Prepared

When I was pregnant with my baby girl Georgia (now 18 mos. old), I didn’t know I was having a 10.5 pound baby. Even in the few minutes after I had her, it didn’t register until I heard a giddy nurse exclaim: “10 pounds, 7 ounces!” My husband and I just looked at each other, like, seriously?

No one told me I was having a 10.5 pound baby, because for whatever reason, the doctor didn’t know. And for that, I’m grateful. Because I would have worried. (And then if I sensed the doctor was worried, I would have worried more.) The experience of having her would have been completely different on my end, even if the circumstances of it were all the same. If I knew going in that a miniature giant awaited, instead of remembering it as relatively routine and calm with a surprise ending, I would remember it as scary and stressful. I would have created a story to match my worry. Instead of an amazing and whacky surprise, the story would be: “Thank goodness I survived that.”

Oh, Just Stop Knowing So Much

I like to arm myself with facts and preparation. I love a good checklist. But sometimes, exchanging knowledge for a little ignorance is the best thing you can do. Because when you only know part of the story upfront, you have a better chance of getting to an uncluttered, pure kind of moment on the backend.

This is definitely true of the virtual conference I’m hosting this week. When I was organizing Expand Your Influence, I tried not to think too much about what I might find out from my guest speakers, especially since I was interviewing people who fascinated me, and I wanted to be . . . fascinated (without baggage). So, when I interviewed Amy Butler (the first call of the conference!), I set aside my star-struckness (she’s sort of my idol), and just tried to listen without a checklist.

I’m glad I did, because when she started to talk about creating a brand extension that represented the next level of her growth, I could actually hear what she was saying. And then, when she talked about being a giver first and foremost, about trying to inspire in everything she does, and about using creativity to deeply connect with people, my breath was taken away for a minute. It was a moment of, holy mama, this is a real thing. This is a way to live and work. This is a way to build a business, for real.

Instead of a story created around anticipation, a story of, “I’ll never do enough. My talent will never compare. I’ll never be able to inspire like that,” I have this other story about opportunity and potential and the excitement of what’s next. After some professional ups and downs in the past few weeks, that story is like a flashlight clicking on, a little light that whispers, “go here.”

From the girl who makes a to-do list every single day, this is completely crazy to say, but here it is: stop being so ready. Stop preparing so much. Stop anticipating what the answers will be, and instead, listen for them. Stop thinking about the outcome, and just experience it. Not all of the time, because the world will fall apart. Just sometimes. Because only the really, really good stuff that you’re not ready for—like a 10.5 pound baby or a nugget of wisdom, perfectly timed—can take your breath away.

Oh right, the final plug: If you haven’t signed up for Expand Your Influence yet, and you enjoy hearing from cool people, I think you should sign up now, because you still have two more days, and four more speakers! If you missed the earlier calls (or have to miss ones the rest of the week), there is still a chance to hear it. Register and you’ll see an option for a VIP upgrade, where you can download all MP3s. Or, just email me (judi at and I’ll explain it.

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