… How I let my “first” almost be my last.
One of my core values is transparency. I value it because I see so much that is contrived in the personal/spiritual growth industry these days.
On the surface, experts and gurus appear as if they’ve reached this place of perfection in their lives or their businesses… and I just don’t feel like that is reality.
It seems to me that people “compare themselves” to that perfect standard and end up being in a constant state of ambition to be something that they aren’t yet… and that pulls them out of their current state of BEING. They enter a world of chronic dissatisfaction, most often unconsciously.
The “problem” with that is they’re then attracting more dissatisfaction (if they believe in “like attracts like.”)
I almost fell into that myself recently and I’m going to share my story with you now – beware, it is a little long!
Last week, I was the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for the Women’s Resource Center of Alamance County, NC. It was a very exciting opportunity for me because it was my first opportunity to speak on a stage. I’ve spoken over 100 times before, but from an educational marketing angle and always in a classroom-type setting.
I’ve been working with a speaking coach on the keynote focus, which is more teaching by storytelling. It’s been a HUGE personal growth experience because the focus was now on ME and my story instead of me imparting topical knowledge.
I outlined, and practiced, and recorded myself, and critiqued myself, then ran it by my coach, and then rinsed and repeated. I did all the right things to prepare for this momentous occasion… and it didn’t come out at all like I had planned!
Before I stepped onto the stage, I said to the Universe: “Thank you for bringing forth what this audience needs to hear”… but when I opened my mouth to start my well-practiced talk, something entirely different than I practiced came out.
I’m an experienced enough speaker that it didn’t rattle me because I knew that no one knew what I had planned to say. Yet there was a tug-o-war going on inside of my head as I tried to figure out how to get myself “back on track.”
It was a bit of an out-of-body experience to be speaking and also critiquing myself while I was speaking… and saying a prayer that what was coming out of my mouth would actually make sense to people.
There was a point in my talk where I paused to ask them a question and I put my hand up to my ear to let them know I was waiting for a response…. and they all responded with the answer!
I had not planned to ask that question… and I was warmed (and relieved!) to know they were SO with me that they responded in unison.
This experience was pivotal for me. I listened to my intuition and it was the exactly right thing to do: not only did it bring the audience “together” but it also reassured me that I was indeed on track. It gave me the groundedness that I needed to successfully finish the talk.
As I sat down, however, my monkey mind swooped in to tell me all the reasons that I had bombed.
- Why did you start the talk that way, it was awful.
- You were SO all over the place, no one could follow you.
- You paced too much, it was distracting.
- That story was sooooo long, no one was interested.
As I witnessed my monkey mind, I did my best to blast those thoughts away. I knew they weren’t true but it was clear that my ego was coming in to try to take me out.
As we took a break during the event, the woman next to me said:
“Wow, Christine! Your message was EXACTLY what I needed to hear, thank you!”
I was incredulous yet affirmed that it didn’t suck as badly as I had thought. Even my videographer, gave me two thumbs up, saying “You looked so smooth and comfortable up there!”
I was further ‘affirmed’ after the event when a handful of other people sought me out to tell me how inspired they were by my story.
But my monkey mind grabbed a hold of me on the drive home and I started to feel upset, even a bit depressed. I was hearing myself question whether I was really cut out to be a keynote speaker.
As I felt the heavy energy come upon me, I was able to catch myself and say out loud to my monkey mind: “YOU don’t get ANY airtime!”
I immediately felt the weight of self-punishment lift and shift away… and I was able to instead see what was RIGHT about my experience:
- How can I do more improvisational speaking?
- What other stories might be compelling for people to hear?
- How can I find companies and associations who like my message of flow and possibility?
- What kind of organizations would welcome audience interaction with their keynote speakers?
The picture above was taken once I arrived home that night and had moved through this personal growth experience.
I love this picture because I know what went on before it… and my gaze is so soft and loving because I am loving on my self.
I believe that transparency = accessibility. No person is perfect, not even me as a ‘teacher’ of these concepts. I said to a friend recently that I am my worst student. He said to me “that’s what makes you a great teacher.”
I hope this story touched you in some way and shows you that we are ALL on the path towards personal growth no matter how experienced we might be.
Life is a perpetual teacher.
P.S. – If you’d like a co-pilot on your journey of personal, business, or spiritual growth, just click here to book a time to chat with me to see if one of my programs could work for you… it would be my honor. <3
Christine Clifton is the author of “You don’t have to shout to Stand Out” and teaches soul-powered entrepreneurs how to keep their inner fire burning so they don’t burn out. By building a fun, co-creative relationship with their business, they better align their practical DOING with their natural BEING and gain focus and energy. They have fun with their work again, feel better than they have in a long time, and see more of the right leads and opportunities come their way….. and they Thrive!