It’s amazing how things that once handicapped us are now the very things that elevate us. I remember my first Spiritually Speaking kick-off event at the Madison Hotel in Washington, DC years ago. It featured fellow friend, author, and international speaker Valorie Burton. The event was a huge success, but all I could think about were my sweaty palms and feet and the dizzying effect of preparing for my welcome speech. Most people would find it hard to believe that I’m an introvert by nature. I’d rather play the back, be in the shadows, and recede.
I remember being so intimidated I would almost barf at the thought of speaking in public or people watching me. Nervous and sweaty, I walked up to the microphone and took my place in front of 300 women who came to transform their lives. What they didn’t know was while they came for transformation, in that very moment, I was being transformed myself from an intimidated southern girl to a budding leader. Minutes later, people were laughing and applauding. Till this day, I still have no idea what I said.
There are seasons in life that require us to change from one place to the next, but we have to step up and do it dirty—unprepared—whatever it may be, a new job, relationship, business, real estate deal, etc.
Today, I’m not as intimidated. Sure I get nervous at times, but the following tactics have helped me tremendously.
- Personality – learn to connect with people. Don’t be a Manchurian candidate. Great personalities cross genders, races, cultures, economics and boredom. Don’t be phony, just be yourself. A perky personality wins every time. If your personality is more somber a partner who offsets your tone can be a huge asset. You bring the technical and they bring the ta-da.
- Practice and Pretend – practice what you will say ahead of time, and pretend you are someone else while giving your speech. I become this powerful person, this superhero, unstoppable villain at times, who leads her team to victory and conquers the flag in combat…perhaps I’ve been reading too many graphic novels, but oh well, that’s what I do.
- Performance – put the new alter-ego to work. Become that person for one hour to conquer your fears. Soon you and the person will fuse and become one person but with your personality.
These three tactics have helped me become a better leader and speaker during my transformation. Transformation can be very uncomfortable and you often feel very fragmented (not together), displaced (nowhere to belong), and sometimes alone. In 2014 I see a new season on the horizon, one that will force me to transition yet again and stretch me outside my familiarity. Who will you be in 2014?