Jason, the chief technology officer for a small startup, was talking with April, his coach.
“I’m procrastinating putting this presentation for the board together,” he told her. “I’m pitching this new product idea one of my teams developed. I think it’s a great idea. Yet, I keep putting off getting started. I don’t understand,” he finished, frustration clear in his voice.
“Have you asked yourself why you’re procrastinating?” April queried.
“Yes, and I’m not getting any answers. Not even when I ask my heart, body, mind, and spirit.”
“Procrastination is a sign we are misaligned. Often, that misalignment stems from three different causes,” April explained. “Let’s discover whether any of them are active for you.”
It may not yet be time
“You’re still a young startup, right?” April asked.
“That’s right,” Jason confirmed. “We’ve just launched our first product. Customers are flowing in—not willy-nilly, mind you. But at a steady clip. So far, we’re more than keeping up with demand.”
“Where did this new product idea come from?”
“It’s a logical progression from the product we just launched. I would have put it on our roadmap for a few years from now. However, the team that brought this to me has found a way to do eighty percent of the functionality with just an incremental amount of work. It seems a no-brainer.”
“How are you feeling about launching that alongside your current product?”
“I’m worried it will steal attention away from our primary product. This extension is just an add-on. I don’t see it ever becoming our primary focus.”
“Any other emotions in play?”
Jason pondered April’s question. “I was surprised at how far the team seems to have gone with so little effort. I’m wary that some big gotchas are lurking, biding their time until they can cause maximum havoc.”
“Any other feelings about this?”
“No, I don’t believe so.”
“OK. So, you’re feeling worried and wary. These emotions tell you this isn’t the right time to launch a second project. Does that feel right?”
“Absolutely,” Jason said without hesitation.
“That’s one common cause of procrastination,” April explained. “Knowing now isn’t the right time.”
It may not be right for you
“Imagine for a moment you become convinced now is the right time to launch this second product,” April instructed. “Is there anything else coming up for you?”
“I’m definitely still hesitant about this presentation,” Jason reported.
“What are you hesitant about?”
“Well, hmm. I’m not worried about presenting to the board. I’ve done that a bunch, and it always goes well.”
Jason paused a moment, reflecting.
“I guess I’m not confident I understand the second product well enough to convince the board. Well, no, that’s not it. I know I can convince them. Hmm.”
“What do your heart, body, mind, and spirit have to say about this?” April prompted.
“My other board of directors?” Jason said with a laugh. “Let me check in.”
Jason settled into his chair and focused on his inner guidance team. A little bit later, he shook his head, refocused on April, and said, “I don’t get it.”
“What did you learn?” April asked.
“My body, mind, and spirit are each fine with doing the presentation. My heart, though, says it’s not my job. But it is my job!”
“What specifically isn’t your job?”
“Doing the…oh.” Jason interrupted himself. “I understand what my heart is saying now. I need to be the one who gives the presentation to the board. The board are real sticklers about that. I don’t, however, need to be the one who creates the presentation. I can ask the team to do that. They’re the ones with all the information about it, after all. I’ll work with them to finetune it. However, I can let them do the bulk of the work.”
“How do you feel about this approach?”
“Great,” Jason declared.
“So, your hesitation stems from knowing you aren’t the right person to produce the presentation?” April asked.
“Yes,” Jason confirmed.
“That’s a second common cause of procrastination: knowing the task isn’t right for you.”
It may not be the right approach
“Now, imagine that you believe now is the right time to launch this second product, and someone else has produced the perfect presentation. How are you feeling?” April asked.
“Unhappy. A static presentation isn’t the right way to show this to the board. The team has a working prototype that proves all the hard parts are understood and resolved. Walking the board through that demo would really seal the deal.”
“How do you feel about doing that demo?”
“Nervous. The demo the team gave to me had a few rough patches. They knew how to work around those. I’d be concerned about running into something I couldn’t handle and blowing the whole proposal.”
“You mentioned earlier that you’d have to be the one to give the presentation. Could you bring in someone from the team to do the demo?”
“No, I don’t believe the board would go for that.”
Jason thought for a moment.
“I could probably get away with playing a recording of the team demoing their prototype. Then, I could mention that the team lead was outside if the board had questions about what they saw or would like to see the demo live. That would show my confidence in both the team and the prototype.”
“How does that feel?”
“The right amount of scary. No one has ever taken this tack with the board before. So, I’m not entirely sure how they’ll react. I do feel confident it’s the right approach, though.”
“That’s the third common cause of procrastination,” April said. “Knowing something about your approach isn’t right.”
Your procrastination may signal you are misaligned
“I feel so relieved,” Jason exclaimed. “I’ve been beating myself up about not working on this presentation. Now I know it’s been telling me three ways I’m out of alignment.”
He raised the index finger on his left hand. “First, this may not be the right time to launch this second product. I know how to determine whether that’s true.”
Jason raised the middle finger on his left hand. “Second, I’m not the right person to produce the presentation. I’d constantly pepper the team with questions as I put the presentation together. The team is in a better position to create the presentation.”
Jason raised his left ring finger. “Third, a presentation isn’t the right approach. Demonstrating the working prototype will be far more persuasive than any number of slides.”
“Anything else coming up for you right now?” April asked.
“No,” Jason replied. “Well, gratitude towards you for helping me find my way through this. Thank you so much.”
“You are very welcome.”