Ugly, Productive Technique
As we approach the start of another school year, I’m reminded of this bit of wisdom (from Parker Palmer): "Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique."
But it’s not just teachers who sometimes think technique and knowledge are paramount - it’s the rest of us too.
A client was feeling ashamed because there were things she wanted to express for years to a couple friends, but she never had the courage to express it. She thought it would come out poorly, and she didn’t think she could adequately express what she wanted to express.
In other words, she doubted her technique.
When I asked her what she wanted to express, the words flowed so easily out of her - with honesty, love, and compassion.
Through our conversation, she saw that what mattered most was what she was really expressing (love and gratitude), not the technique of how she expressed it.
She was expressing love and gratitude, and how she expressed it didn’t even matter - she could text it, send a voice memo, write an email, whatever!
The challenge: our own inner judge will likely never think it’s the right time or that we're doing it in the best way.
The thing is, it doesn’t matter what the inner judge thinks. What matters is that we’re expressing something meaningful to us. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be pretty.
Good, meaningful action can't be reduced to technique.
The second client on my mind this morning is working on a big project, and she’s sometimes confronted. She's sometimes confronted by not knowing the best path forward, and she's sometimes confronted by her fears of looking stupid and wasting her time.
Last week, she shared that her biggest takeaway from our conversation is that “an ugly hour of work is still an hour of work.” In other words, even if our technique is messy, we can still add momentum and move ourselves forward.
Messy technique is usually more productive than no technique at all.
So many of us are waiting for the right moment. We’re waiting to be inspired. We’re waiting to have our crap together. We’re waiting to have the perfect thing to say. We’re waiting to have confidence or clarity or certainty. We’re waiting to have the best technique.
And so we sit on those things that are important to us. We hold back from telling someone how we feel. We hold back from speaking up and expressing ourselves. We distract ourselves from just getting to work. We teachers sometimes bury our spirit in content knowledge and information.
We’re afraid of looking stupid. We’re afraid of being misunderstood. We’re afraid of wasting time. We’re afraid of being reprimanded. We're afraid of losing respect.
Well, an ugly hour of work is still an hour of work, and a text message can also communicate love.
In the end, the technique doesn't matter. What matters is whether we've moved the needle forward with those things that we really care about.
Sometimes, ugly technique is the best technique.
All it takes is courage, and courage is something we've ALL got plenty of. It comes down to whether we're willing to use it.
Thanks so much for reading. ❤️
P.S. If you're feeling stopped or blocked in areas that matter to you (relationships, projects, work, well-being, etc.), send me a message and let's schedule a conversation to see how I can support you to move the needle forward.