I have always been someone that just prefers to know the formula. Not math-ish formulas cause I have always struggled with the math things, but the whole “Just do things this way and the things will work.” I realize that life really just doesn’t work that way, but it would so be my preference. And when I find myself in a situation where someone knows more than I do about a certain topic (which is often) I am fairly quick to trust that what they tell me to do will work. This is why I ask them all the questions, and the further removed from my felt area of expertise, the more questions.
Through work, I was temporarily assigned a task regarding media, content, marketing, communications, digital stuff. You know, all the things I didn’t go to school for or have any background in. So, my teammate and I set up time with local people that do know this stuff, and I did what I typically do, I asked so many questions. As they shared their theories and the psychology behind their strategies, their recommendations, and their experiences I was both overwhelmed and impressed. About half way through our meeting I needed things to be simplified, so I asked, “Can you just tell us when we should post and when we should send an email?” Their response…
“When you have something valuable to say.”
I realize this answer can create spin-off questions: how do we define valuable? how many valuable things do I need? what’s the best way to package all this valuable stuff we are trying to say? And yes, I asked those questions too, but really the simple answer has been sticking with me. Way beyond work stuff, how often do we wait to say something til we have something valuable to say?
I often referenced Psalm 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,” sharing how it causes me to pause and consider what is “following me,” what is the wake I leave behind me when I exit a room, or finish a sentence. What value is deposited when I share a thought? I feel like we are always sowing and reaping, depositing and withdrawing, pouring-in or taking-from, and I think there is value in making sure we are taking honest evaluations of those relational processes from time to time.
With my sons…what is the real reason I’m saying that thing, or saying that thing again, and again?
In sharing my thoughts….does what I’m saying actually add value, or am I speaking to fill a void, to compensate for my insecurities, to justify taking up space in this room?
That text, that post, this blog…
Not that we can’t have idle chatter or just say silly stuff; this isn’t about small talk or relaxed conversation with friends. More about praying for a heightened self-awareness as I share my thoughts. Their simple response reminds me to slow down long enough to consider the why, what, and the wake of what I say. Might not be a bad idea for most of us.