Today, a few insights into the life of booking and presenting a speaking engagement, and 2 helpful concepts to deal with the past and move forward with strength:
The invitation is exhilarating.
Everyone likes the invitation. You, specifically you, of all the people in the world, you are being asked to be a part of this event because you have something different.
The preparation is pure joy...and hatred...and joy.
I start with somewhere between 30-86.5 cue cards with ideas written on the floor. I fill out the ideas and end up usually with 3 hours worth of material. Then I hate the process because I need to cut something off this thing I've created. Then it's exactly what it should be, eventually.
The presentation is like flying.
A friend once told me to find the thing that feels like your wings are fully stretched and you are soaring to the glory of God. For me, that is the moment I'm in front of a crowd.
The ending is awkward.
Some people say 'thank you', some people duck their heads and walk out, some people may even say 'that is life-changing' or 'you changed me with that' (to which I still don't really know how to respond), and some people want to talk and ask a few honest questions - I like this the most.
But here's the thing, no matter how great the event was (a conference, retreat, church service, or training meeting)...
the drive home after the conference is brutal.
Inevitably I will run through the entire talk in my head and sometimes repeat certain parts out loud that I wish I had done differently (which always reminds me of George Costanza, "I SHOULD'VE SAID, THE JERK-STORE CALLED..."). I think about what I missed, or what the crowd responded to positively and negatively. I think about the comments and conversations afterwards. I wonder if it will actually make a difference to the people that were sitting there. And if I really let the self-talk get loud I start thinking that this whole lifestyle is a mistake and I shouldn't even be doing this.
So, after talking about this enough with my counsellor, it is time to change the rhythm.
Remember, when the rhythms in your life are off, you are fully capable of making the changes to set it straight.
Here's 2 things that I'm doing now to help keep the exhilaration alive:
1. Open and Close the chapter
I think I officially have a power pose. Which is either really funny, stupid, or awesome. And the thing is, it's not really "powerful" per se. I mean I don't stand with my hands in the air, or flex my arms, or jump up and down listening to Lose Yourself. When I confirm that I'm going to be speaking at an event, I relax, breathe deeply, and make the motion like I'm opening a book. Then, when I'm done speaking and sit in my car, I breathe deeply and make the motion like I'm closing a book. I still give myself permission to debrief and be honest about what worked and didn't work, because I'll never improve otherwise. The other voice, however, the one that voids any possible significance this opportunity has in the grand scheme of the human race, that voice is silenced.
This chapter is done. Nothing can be changed about that. I can only move forward. And thankfully, forward is exactly where God is leading us.
2. Work from the core
The more I think this is about me or something I have to bring to this world that nobody else has, the more freaked out I get. I have physically shut down for a day, twice (that I can think of) in the past 6 months because I have felt so completely overwhelmed by the dream ahead and the improbability of finding 'success' as a speaker. I have to assume this is because I have all these insecurities I have built up in my life that every good idea is filtered through and dissected to an unrecognizable state, leaving me with no good ideas.
Writing a blog - nobody will visit the site. Writing a book - not a soul will care, let alone buy it. Producing a podcast - who will give you the time to listen? Marketing myself as a speaker - what gives you the right to claim that title?
When it's about me, the good ideas start in the head and works their way down to my soul. They rarely get there in tact.
When I start from the core of who I am, though, I move ahead with unbreakable confidence that I need to do this because this is what I am made for.
This whole thing then is no longer about me and my good (or not good) ideas. It's not about what you think of me, whether you see me as making a mistake with my life, or having little to offer, or going about this wrong, or think I must be some conceited jerk ("THE JERK-STORE CALLED...") because I'm not thinking about that first anymore. I start from an desire within to create something. I start from the place of the I AM, where I believe the Spirit of God dwells within to guide and direct. And as ideas from that place move up into my head with momentum it goes through filters like:
"Will this bring value to people?"
"Will this bring me joy?"
"Will this honor the way of Jesus?"
Then the creative process begins, with all the confidence in the world that however you react to this thing matters, but it won't break me because I began from the core of my being that decided this had to be done.
Now, what are the conversations or situations you run through over and over in your head after they've happened?
There might even be a few situations that happened years ago that you're STILL running through, wishing you had handled it differently.
Close the book.
Then move forward, starting with the desires in your soul.
It is never easy being vulnerable and putting yourself out there in front of people, but honestly, at this point on the journey that's probably the easiest thing to deal with. More to come about what it's like to build a personal brand, living with no income, finding a community, in future "Speaker's Journey" posts.