Life’s too short to be in the wrong meeting

Sarah Browning celebrates her freelance career.

I was at a great unconference at the weekend. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of an unconference, let me (briefly) explain. It’s like a regular conference but with no pre-set programme – on the day, the delegates say what they would like to discuss or learn about, and facilitators for breakout sessions on popular topics are put in place by the organisers. It’s emergent, slightly anarchic and lots of fun!

So at the beginning of the event, our facilitator for the day, the fantastic Benjamin Ellis (@benjaminellis), stood up and explained how things were going to work. He gave us a few tips for getting the best from the day, including suggesting that if you were in a breakout session that wasn’t interesting you, simply leave and find one that was. In his words “Life’s too short to be in the wrong meeting”.

As soon as he said the words, I knew this was a metaphor for the life of a freelancer! As well as being a perfect motto to live my life by, it is a phrase that makes so much sense to me. And, interestingly, I’ve shared this amazing newly-discovered motto with a few others since the event, and they have all reacted with positivity too. I guess the logic is unarguable – why would you waste time in the wrong meeting?

And yet how many people do we all know who are doing just that? Stuck in a job that makes them miserable, performing tasks that bore them, with a boss they hate. Or maybe not as extreme, but still with a job that’s so-so and the best part of the day is going-home time (and the best day of the month is pay-day). These people are all clearly in the wrong meeting.

If you’re in the right meeting:

·         You’re interested in the agenda

·         You have lots to contribute

·         You want to listen to the people around you
·         You’re full of energy and want to act

·         You feel you’re making a difference

These things are all true about my freelance career. It’s a great feeling to know that the way I work is right for me and the work that I do is what I am best at.

I’m in the right meeting. Are you?

You can find Sarah Browning at her website and on Twitter at @browningyork

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