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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Four "Levels" - A Simple Example (Continued)

Dear Ones --

Picking up with the discussion about our Levels, which I introduced a few days ago -- we return to a simple and practical example: How do we keep current with our "connections," especially the new ones? Most especially, how do we handle the piles and stacks of business cards that so many of us have?

I left this topic with you three blog-posts ago, as a bit of a "cliffhanger." I meant to share with you, in the next post, the insight that I received that "pivoted" how I treated the whole matter of business cards and people-connects. One reason for the little time-delay was that I wanted to first put the insight into action. (And yes, I DID spend the next two days on just that - putting the insight into practice.)

I still wanted some input from a "coach," though - someone who was much better in this area than I was. And as good fortune (or active co-creation) would have it - this is exactly what I got, just last night, from my dear friend Debra. (And I hope to introduce you to her soon!)

Debra is an expert at people-relations. More than that, she is very much "on top of her game." So I simply couldn't find a better person to not only coach me, but to provide an excellent real-life example of how to handle her growing volume of "people-relations." So, let me share with you both what I learned as "insight." Then, in the next blog-post, I'll pass on what I learned last night from Debra as "practical guidance."

THe "insight" is simple. (And this is where we have the conversation about Levels.) We all have "papers" in our lives. These may be letters that need response, papers to file, receipts to enter into spreadsheets and then file, or - that most infamous collection of "papers" - business cards. Very often, for many of us, these pile up. These piles quickly become intimidating, because each little piece of paper can require a great deal of attention, energy, and plain, simple work.

Business cards are the toughest - because we KNOW what it is that we REALLY want to do with them: We want to get the data into both our smart phone AND our main computer database (the one that we use for managing our distribution lists and "big" data storage). Then, we want to get a nice "connection" note off to the person that we just met, and file the card into some sort of paper back-up file. One little-tiny card can require a big gob of time.

So here it is: If we're just thinking about that business card (or that handful, or stack of business cards) on the simple, physical level, then the effort involved in "processing" that card seems disproportionately large. I - and maybe you - have all too often looked at the little cards and said, "Important - but I'll get to them tomorrow." And tomorrow becomes the next day, and the next.

The challenge is that the little piece of paper is so very small. And the effort involved is really kind of BIG.

But this is at the simple, physical level - Level 1.

The insight that I received is to treat handling business cards as a multi-level process, just as with dance.

Level 1 is handling the simple mechanics of the card. Do the data base entry (and the duplicate into the smart phone, or the synch-up - if you are so technically savvy.) Write the follow up note, and file the card away - with a notation on the card that both data entry and follow-up were done.

Level 2 is getting over my resistance about putting the time into this (when there are so many other things to be done!).

Level 3 is where the insight begins.

I realized that each business card was a token for a new, potential relationship. (This is using an artificial intelligence / cognitive science term.) The card wasn't the relationship itself - but it could stand in for the new connection.

I realized that while I was processing the card physically, I could also build the relationship energetically. While doing all the details of data entry, I could bring mindful attention and awareness to the new person, and create the intention of building a new relationship. I could, in fact, create the energy-link between us as I was filling in the remembered details from our conversation, and wrote a little email follow-up.

Being mindful and attending to our energy-connection is Level 3 work. Creating the intention, and charging it through our action of annotating and writing, is Level 4.

Thus, we can transform something that might be a time-consuming "chore" into an energy-process that builds a closer connection on many levels.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I met several wonderful new people at an event last night - and it's time to enter in those new business cards!

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