There is no mystery as to why we avoid leading at the front of the room at all costs. It can be completely terrifying and anxiety producing. In fact, I personally struggled and squirmed at the mere mention of having to speak to groups early in my career. It’s quite unnatural to be placed in front of a group of people with the responsibility of presenting something worthwhile. It’s enough to shake even the most confident leaders in their boots. But being a leader means you must, at some point, stand out or stand up and share with others what direction you’re headed. Being a leader means you take the risk to make an impact. It means contributing in only the way you can and making a difference.
If you had told me ten years ago that I would be speaking and teaching about the importance of speaking I would’ve laughed you out of the room. There wasn’t a bone in my body that desired the attention, the judgement, or the responsibility that comes with learning the craft. My life however, has not been a linear match making of common sense. It’s been an adventure full of mishaps, mistakes, and miscalculations. I no longer make predictions about what I will or won’t do. I’ve learned that life will continue to dare me to lean into discomfort.
It’s easy to think the person at the front of the room has found a way to rid themselves of fear. The truth is, they’ve learned how to harness it. Speaking to an audience requires bravery, but being brave doesn't mean there is an absence of fear. Being brave means noticing the fear and pushing through it. Once you know what it feels like to act in the face of fear, nerves, and anxiety it becomes familiar. As you get more familiar with the feelings you'll no longer see it as a threat, but rather an old friend that shows up to remind you this is something you care about. Eventually, the things that take great courage today will become more comfortable and no longer require such bravery.
Deciding to do what it takes to stand at the front of the room with all those eyes staring back at you is stepping into complete vulnerability and takes a lot of courage. It is for this reason that speaking will always be a love of mine. It has shown me sides of myself I didn’t know existed. It has shaped me into a leader I never knew was possible. Speaking to audiences has made me susceptible to the judgment and criticism of others as well as myself. It has taught me self-compassion and strengthened my resilience. It has forced me to learn my truth and speak it with no apologies. Speaking has taught me to STAND TALL. When I speak to audiences I feel life course through my veins in a way I’ve never been able to duplicate. Speaking is living for me and my hope is that you get to experience speaking in the same way.