So I am about one week away from the start of the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas, (October 7 - 10, 2014 use discount code 'HHH14' for $550 off the on site rate), (ok the commercial is over), and if there is one question that I have been asked more than any other in the run up to the event it is this:
It is kind of a weird question, I think, to ask someone that is facing some kind of important deadline, deliverable, or an event of some kind for which there has been significant, lengthy, or substantial planning.
And for the record, I feel like I am not, in fact, freaking out about the upcoming Conference.
But so many folks have have asked me that question in the last few weeks, that every so often I get to wondering myself - maybe I should be freaking out? Is there something that I have missed or forgotten? Is there some giant shoe that is about to drop that I should be losing sleep over?
And I think the answers to those questions are probably all 'Yes'. There is likely something that has been missed, with an event of this size and complexity and with the literally hundreds of people involved. There is bound to be some kind of mini-drama next week at the event with a speaker who falls ill or a session that does not come together as perfectly as expected. Something will go wrong, it is just how it is, the world is an imperfect place. Stuff happens and sometimes it can't be avoided.
But what can be avoided is the question in the first place, the little or subtle way in which we make folks begin to second-guess themselves with the 'How come you're not freaking out?' line. Because when you hear that often enough the question turns around into more of a statement - 'You should be freaking out. If I were you I would be freaking out. Something must be wrong with you to not be freaking out.'
That kind of thing.
So here is my advice, or really my request. Stop asking people why they are not freaking out.
Because maybe they are freaking out and just trying to hide it from you. Maybe they could use some actual help, instead of just another person reminding them of the pressure they are under. Or maybe they do feel as if they have everything together but with each additional person wondering why or how they are not cracking under the strain that self-doubt (and then panic) might actually start to set in.
Ok, I am out. I am busy with a week to go until the show. But I am not freaking out about it.
Just don't ask me again though.