It was the night before my first big 3-Day event in 2012 – and I was standing in the middle of my stage, in Edison, New Jersey. 105 people had registered for the event. I had the mike box and PowerPoint clicker – and I was cautiously practicing the words to my introduction, “Welcome, I’m so excited that you are here.” But the truth was, I wasn’t very excited.
I stared into the ultra bright lights. I asked for the 5th time, “can you please turn the lights down?” And received the same answer for the fifth time, “Monica, they need to be that bright to see you, you’ll get used to them.” I looked over the room of empty chairs and I felt a chill of terror run through my body.
My event team and business coach were in the audience, staring at me, and telling me, “Monica, just be YOU. You’re going to be great.” The problem was that I didn’t know who ME was. The ME I knew was quiet. She liked deep conversations with 1, maybe 3 people. She was an amazing coach who had deep powers of intuition. But she didn’t love the stage. She wasn’t quite sure what to do in the spotlight. She had always been a natural leader – but it felt like that just happened sometimes – it wasn’t something within her control.
During that event, and the years after, I worked on finding ME. I modeled my colleagues who loved speaking and could spontaneously come up with the best talks. I modeled my colleagues who were more introverted and quietly powerful. And I learned so much from the process of watching and learning from those that were doing events around me.
And I practiced. I said yes to every speaking event I could, and I paid for sponsorships to speak on lots of stages. There were some speaking spots that were amazing, others that were quite the train-wreck.
Little by little I started to notice something. My power didn’t come from trying to be someone else. Learning from them and modeling them was important, yes, and that’s how I got better and better.
But my true power came from being confident being me. I had to own me. Every part of me.
I had to own:
- That sometimes I use the wrong words at the wrong time
- That I can’t get a metaphor right for the life of me
- That I forget names of people and places – right when I need them
- That I move awkwardly sometimes, especially on a stage
- That I hate shopping for clothes, especially business ones
And I could go on and on and on.
But there are the good parts too. The parts of me that I’ve learned to celebrate and count on. The parts of me that make me smile.
I also had to own:
- That I’m smart and really good at helping businesses find money
- That I’m a damn good teacher
- That I can break down just about anything into simple actionable pieces
- That I’m entertaining, funny and can tell an amazing story
- The fact that I can read a room immediately
- That I can read an individual in 10 seconds flat and solve their problems immediately
Here’s the most interesting piece – I used to think that my clients and my audiences only loved the good pieces – and that I had to diminish or avoid the bad ones.
Here’s my big learning – my clients and audiences love the awkward as much as the talent. As long as I love me – they love me.
Mastery and excellence isn’t about eliminating all of your faults. It’s about honoring your faults and adding masterful skills on top of them.
This is the key to becoming powerful – learning to love and accept all the pieces of you. Yes, you may work to shift some pieces – to move into extraordinary and mastery. But you are doing all of that not to change you – but to improve you. To add to the already perfect you.
Now that I’ve been in business 11 years – I know one thing to be true – all of the things about me that I don’t like are still there. I’ve just added and magnified a bunch of things that I love. And that confidence has amounted to being very powerful, both on and off stage.
So take a moment and reflect. Who are you? And how can you fall more in love with both the good and the bad?
This week, take a moment and write a list of the five things you love about yourself. Then write the five things you hate about yourself.
Then see if you can fall in love with the things you hate, while you take the time to add and improve things that you love.
Here’s to simply surrendering to who we really are and stepping into our power in the process.
Leave me a comment below to let me know what you thought of this story – I so love it when you “talk” to me!
PS: If you’ve like to get more comfortable speaking – check out our Speaking Masterclass – January 11-13th – there’s only 4 spots left!
photo: flckr, ennalluj