The Right People Are in the Room

In about five hours, I will be welcoming more than 200 close friends, business colleagues and supporters to a launch party for Floricane. I'm starting to get nervous. Right off the bat this morning, I received emails from about a half dozen of my favorite people indicating that they were not goingto be able to attend tonight for a variety of reasons. I spent about 30 minutes gnashing my teeth and questioning even throwing a party for a new business that has barely generated any revenue. I began to doubt myself, and in the process all of the other people who were going to attend. And then I stopped.I looked at the list of people who were attending -- my wife and our daughter, my mother, people I've known all of my life and people I've only met once. I considered the vastness of my network and its links to the local weblog community, to the business and educational and nonprofit communities, to the arts and cultural spokes of Richmond. I thought about a graphic facilitator I know and respect. Adore is probably not too strong of a word -- for her skill, and perspective and openness. Gretchen once told me that whenever she pulled people together, she always reminded herself to focus on who was there -- not on who was absent. "If you trust that the right people are in the room, you'll do good work," she said. "If you worry about who isn't there, you'll be less useful to those who are." And then I thought about the conversation Nikole and I had the Thursday before our wedding in the spring of 2005. We were having dinner, and I think she got a little nervous when I started the conversation with, "There are a few things we need to talk about." I shared with Nikole how nervous I was about the weekend, and how important it was for me to "show up" as genuinely, honestly and in-the-moment as possible. I asked for her support with three very specific things. First, I said, it is very easy for me to worry about what isn't happening or what is happening next. I could spend the entire weekend worrying about whether the caterer remembered to bring extra silverware, or that the flowers aren't centered on the tables. Help me stay in-the-moment, to stay present with you as we go through the weekend together, I asked her. Second, I said, it will be second nature for me to focus on what other people need and concern myself with making sure everyone is having a good time. I want people to enjoy themselves, and I trust that they will. This weekend, I said, it is important to me that I am focused on you, and on me, and on us. We are what matters. Third, I told her, it is hard for me to accept that several hundred people are coming together for us, to celebrate us and our love and our marriage. It's hard for me to accept love from others, and I usually spend my time dismissing it, or deflecting it, or reminding them how important they are. Help me this weekend simply accept the love and care and joy that everyone wants to give us, and to accept it without question or doubt. We talked about what each of the three requests really meant, and how Nikole could help me stay attentive to my intentions for the weekend, and how we'd keep our connection to each other strong through our entire weekend celebration. Our focus was on the relationship, the emotion and the connection. It was a wonderful weekend. That's how I shifted my thinking about tonight. It's going to be a wonderful celebration -- because the right people will be in the room, and because the focus will be on the relationships, the emotions and the connections. See you at 5:30.