That Back-to-School Feeling. No kids required


The vibes of Back-to-School still motivate us. Even as adults!

by Peter Watts

Fresh paint is the smell of back-to-school. At least for me. It was always industrial yellow with raised lumps of white stuff. As you queued the corridor for lunch on the first day back, you could still chisel out paint patterns with your thumbnail.

That fresh paint smell is so imprinted on my mind as part of the Back-To-School that come September I now experience a primal urge to start decorating!

We live surrounded by artificial calendars. When exactly is the new year? The calendar tells me it’s January 1st. The tax year tells me it’s April 5th. The multinational corporation I spent 11 years working for used to insist it was February 1st!

The most powerful of all though is the new year that we grew up with: the September – July school year.

You don’t need kids in your life to experience the gravitational pull of Back-To-School. It’s hard-cored into us. That slight drop in temperature, the heavier dew on the lawns in the morning, the first tell-tale color-shift leaves and the shortening days. They all point one way.

Don’t under-estimate what powerful formative experiences those Back-To-School occasions were for you. There were new teachers, new subjects, and most scarily of all, there were occasionally whole new schools.

Take a moment. Put your mind back into those days.

That strange feeling that you’re getting, that sense of equal parts excitement mixed with fear, that’s the Back-to-School Feeling. It’s the feeling we get when we’re facing something big, challenging, and largely unknown. It’s the feeling we get when the only direction we can move in is forward, even though if we had a choice, we’d quite like to turn and run!

It’s a feeling that is priming us to be at our best in the face of challenge. It was actually a pretty cool feeling. If given the choice to click our fingers and physically return to those days, not all of us would do it (I for one am fairly sure I’d turn-down a time-ticket back to teenage), but still this time of year can deliver a major kick.

Think of your next presentation as being your very own grown-up Back-To-School. Access those old feelings that are just below the surface for you right now.

How can you give your presenting, and your presentations, that new paint smell?

Comments

  1. Great suggestion. Specific ideas for that back-to-school presentations could be fresh photos for slides, taking text off your slides, new ice-breaker questions. I’d love to see what specific suggestions you and your readers have for spiffing up our talks.

    • Hi Laura. Thanks for the great ideas. I can smell the fresh paint already!

      I completely agree about giving the slides a good dusting. I’m working through a presentation as we speak and cleansing it of excess content. I’m also thinking of departing from my customary Keynote software and maybe trying Prezi instead. That might leave me drenched in fresh paint!

      Have you encountered the idea of “Beginners Mind”? Of approaching tasks with the humility and freshness of a complete novice? I’ll be attempting that during my first stand-up of the season.

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