About 5 years ago I remember standing up to ask a question at an open mic at a conference and my hands and voice were shaking so much that I looked and sounded like a tuning fork that had just been hit. For those who have this problem, I wish I could tell you there was a magic formula to get over it and I’m sure there are some great courses that will help, but for me, the only answer answer was to do it again and again and again. Until the shaking stopped. Until I could trust that the right words would come when I needed them. And I embraced PowerPoint. Thank God for PowerPoint!
Today, I’m a fairly confident speaker – or more specifically a fairly confident trainer. Recently I decided that I have a message that I want to share with the world but was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do the message justice. While I can teach people how to market their business and use social media, what made me think that I could stand up and inspire people to do something different?
I also wanted to move away from relying on slides to take me through a presentation. I wanted to learn how to put together a presentation and talk without relying on bullet points to get my point across. I wanted to be able to inspire people by talking to them directly. But didn’t know how.
The teacher will appear when the student is ready
And then I received an email from Sarah Lloyd Hughes, telling me about her upcoming Speak like a TED Talker course. Perfect!
When the time came, I entered the training room not really sure what to expect, but very hopeful that Sarah would give me the magic formula to being an awesome and inspiring speaker. That she would be my saviour. And it turned out she was, but not in quite the way that I expected.
The 18 other people that I was in the room with were some of the most inspiring people I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with. Each and every one of them moved me with their passion and their stories in different ways. Emotionally it was one of the most raw weekends I have ever experienced. I wish I could do the stories justice here, but all I can do is give you a flavour … Natasha was one of the first stories of the weekend. She had come from an abusive home, her brother/companion/best friend died when he was in his late teens, she developed leukaemia in her early 20’s and almost died, is now raising three children as a single mum and has launched a charity for people who need someone to talk to when they are suffering from a potentially terminal illness. Her gentleness, pureness and generosity of spirit are unbelievable. I learned from Natasha that we all have a choice about how we want to live our lives in spite of what life throws at us.
Sarah is a firecracker. She is gregarious, outgoing, full of fun and energy. She shared with us that she had never experienced joy before her mid twenties. Her world was flat and everything else (most of life) existed below the line for her. It wasn’t until she was given medication for the first time for depression that her eyes were opened up to how wonderful life could be. She is now finding her way, and talked about her depression in a way that really helped people to understand the pain, and what it’s like to live life without joy. I feel so privileged to have heard her story and felt an understanding of depression in a way that I never had before.
Everyone has a story. Everyone’s story is powerful. But you must own it.
The gift that Sarah Lloyd Hughes gave us that weekend was the ability to trust ourselves and trust our voice. Trust that each and everyone of us had a gift to share with the world. And she taught us how to let go and use techniques to store our words in our environment and our bodies, so that we no longer needed crutches to speak.
Exposing the inner demons
On the second day of the course, Sarah ran a session to help us find our inner demons and boy did I find mine. When we were asked to describe how the session had made us feel, I burst into tears and had to leave the room. When the group did the part that was supposed to help us recover, I didn’t recover. I was an open wound. All I wanted to do was leave the course and never come back again.
And I was angry
How dare she! How dare Sarah open up a wound that couldn’t be closed. How dare she make me weaker than I was before I started. How dare she strip down the barriers that I had built up over the last forty years. That day I lost my protective shell and I would never be able to get it back again.
Stripping back the layers
Thankfully, Sarah had two wonderful, warm and talented coaches on hand as part of her course, Nicky Moran and Rona Steinberg. Nicky followed me out of the room and helped me work through what I was feeling and pulled me through to the other side. And magically I also discovered what was holding me back from really achieving the things that I have always felt I should be capable of.
A deep seated belief that I was not good enough. So deep I didn’t know it existed. So deep that I didn’t even know the part of me where it sat in my body existed. My own personal Pandora’s box.
10 days later I feel softer inside. The protective shell is gone and I’m feel freer than I have been in years. Now I can move forward without fear and trepidation. Without feeling like I need to hide.
Coaching really works! Who knew
I share this story in the hope that you can start to find the thing that is holding you back. Historically I’ve not been a big fan of coaching, but my experiences working with Nicky at this event, plus working with a friend of mine, Teresa Mitrovic on some other aspects like goal planning and strategy have really changed my mind.
If there is something inside you, that is holding you back, please explore what that might be.
Save yourself first
When an airplane gets into trouble you are advised to give yourself oxygen first. Before you save anyone else. This rule applies in life as well. If you look after yourself first, you will be more capable and able to help the people you want to help and do the things that you have been put on this earth to do.
The most important gift you can give yourself is to nurture and nourish yourself and for me, one of the best ways to learn how to do that is through books. Love yourself like your life depends on it and pick up the book with the same title by Kamal Ravikant. Give yourself permission to be vulnerable and buy the book Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. And Choose Yourself by James Altucher to start your daily practice and decide that you are not going to settle any more.
Photo Credit: This gorgeous photo reflected for me the open path between the massive barriers that we put in place before us. It is a creative commons photo from Pfly