This short interruption brought to you by a full weekend spent in Colorado Springs at the USA Cycling Coaching Summit....
Ben and I left Boulder early Friday morning to beat traffic. Kevin, my old boss and director of coaching education, gave a short welcome speech before ushering on the keynote speaker, Aaron McHugh. Aaron's recent book, "Fire Your Boss" talks about the internal journey we're all on and figuring out why you do what you do. Is it for money or are you in it because you believe in what you're doing? When's the last time you examined what you're doing and asked yourself why you're doing it?
Aaron's speech resonated with a lot of people. 150 coaches listened in - some here to expand their knowledge, some to reconnect with colleagues, and some just starting their coaching careers. His speech tied into what Alison and I were prepared to talk about later that afternoon during our presentation on Building the Business and not being afraid of failing, and failing often. That's where you learn the most.
In the waning moments before we were due to present, I panicked. It's one thing to give a speech to an audience who you don't know. It's another to stand in front of a room of your professional peers and describe how you've done things, how a turn of events landed you on stage. And while a little seed of doubt sits on your shoulder whispering in your ear, "what makes you so special?" the other shoulder sits a cheerleader..."YES! YOU BELONG HERE! LEAD!!"
I only listened to my seed of doubt once on stage and it made me buckle temporarily under pressure. I swallowed, reached for my notes and continued on, quickly forgetting my temporary glitch. Regaining composure, I started speaking from the heart and let those fears fly out the window.
I love public speaking as much as it scares me. Standing in front of an audience, delivering a message and being completely vulnerable is deeply satisfying. My hope is the message I convey while I have their attention eases their pain, helps them along in their journey and allows a deeper understanding. And it's also my fear that they don't get it. But I can't control that. As long as it touches one person, I've done my job.
As corny as this may sound (hey seed of doubt - who invited you here?), standing on stage is my one of my callings. I've known that but haven't owned it since I first discovered the thrill of having a scheduled poem reading in grade school, the anxiety that came with it in the moments before speaking and the complete relief after the performance. I know I have a ways to go to polish my delivery, to find my voice, to really hone the craft - but like writing, it's in my soul. The more I do it, the more I want to do it.
So bring on the weekly attendance at Toastmasters. Bring on signing up for more opportunities and delivering more messages. I'm practicing. I dream of being a paid professional speaker. And these baby steps are bringing me closer to that reality.