When I recently attended the American Society for Training and Development 2010 International Conference and Exposition (ASTD ICE), I was privileged to attend a session and then to meet David Allen, productivity training thought leader and Getting Things Done (GTD) author.
I was eager to speak to David after the event. First to thank him for his contributions to my practice; second to inquire about becoming one of his Chicago productivity trainers.
He welcomed my accolades and warmly signed my book. How exciting! His reaction to my inquiry, however, stung a little. Without being rude, he dismissed my question practically before I finished asking it. I was a touch hurt at first.
As I reflect on the experience, I find a powerful, yet subtle message. David was not rejecting me, the individual. He was deleting a commitment he didn’t really want to make before it was even added to his to-do list. As if he were wearing a protective shield.
From his book:
“…once you really understand what it means, you’ll probably make fewer agreements. I know I did. I used to make a lot of them, just to win people’s approval. When I realized the price I was paying on the back end for not keeping those agreements, I became a lot more conscious about the ones I made.”
So thanks, David, for not agreeing to win my approval when we were face to face…only to disappoint me and you when we were not.
What defenses do or can you use to prevent to-do list overwhelm and regret?