“The greatest act of courage is to be and to own all that you are – without apology, without excuses, without masks …” Debbie Ford
I just opened my emails and to my horror, the talk I presented 12 months ago was featured!
My ego had secretly hoped that the video might have vanished or been buried where no one could see it!
WHY? There I am naked for the entire world to see. Not literally –thankfully! Vulnerability just makes you feel that way.
Let’s go back to the beginning- I received an email from The Slow School of Business –‘’Is there a TED-style talk in you? “
I had been inspired by TED Talks for years, attended TEDX Melbourne and was looking for my latest challenge. YES I can do this! New Year -new challenge! The usual conversations battled in my brain before I committed-:
Are you sure about this?
My bold side replied,
- “You are a coach! Change is your speciality !”.
- “Don’t be such a wimp.”
- “It will be good for you.”
- “About time you found your voice!”
Finally my son said, “Yes mum, you can do it!” This pushed me over the line of doubt.
Bravely, I signed up.
The first night of the program was inspiring and confronting.
Imagine walking in to a group of talented confident people with interesting stories to tell; the presenters were confident, super talented, and impressive. I did not belong! Vulnerability, fear, insecurity flooded in. WHAT AM I DOING HERE? RUN ….
President Theodore Roosevelt said that “Comparison is the thief of joy”
Well I am here to tell you this is so true. I was soon to discover that others felt just like me. Eventually, our shared stories and experience allowed trust to grow and friendships to flourish.
Reluctantly, I returned for the second session. Forcing myself to finish what I had started. Besides I had already revealed my latest challenge to friends. Some said I was brave, others thought it was no big deal. Was I going to reveal I was a wimp and a quitter? Believe me I was tempted.
A year later, reflecting on my experience I know that it was pivotal. I was so embroiled in my story, my fear and the dread of failure; I didn’t truly celebrate the break through. I had come face to face with my vulnerability and survived!
It wasn’t so much a fear of speaking, just a fear of speaking about me.
Have you ever been afraid of making a fool of yourself?
Concerned you might bore the pants off your audience?
Worse still, imagined doing a crash and burn in front of everyone?
If you answered YES- You will understand my fear and trepidation – I dedicate this blog to you.
If you answered NO- You probably gave up reading a long time ago!
I did finish the program because I am not someone who gives up easily. I attended the final presentation night and managed to get through 3 minutes of panic – heart stooping moments when my notes went out of sequence and moments when long held emotion sent a tremor through my voice. The other 2 minutes? I actually enjoyed myself.
The audience was wonderful. They wanted me to succeed! I have kept all their notes; their words touched me deeply.
Unfortunately, until yesterday I had never watched the video of my presentation. I tried once- but it was still too raw!
Now having watched the video what have I discovered?
- Vulnerability doesn’t kill us
- Perfection is limiting!
- Courage is in the small steps we take to challenge our imagined limitations
- Shared stories allow us to connect and discover that we are not alone
- Being stuck in limiting stories sucks! Getting unstuck is the challenge!
- Releasing energy- zapping stories is exhilarating!
- If you must compare – only compare yourself to who you were yesterday
Hiding behind our mask may make us feel safe; the truth is that the fear of exposing our vulnerability limits us-keeping us small.
“Vulnerability is not weakness. Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” Brene Brown