Over the past few weeks I have addressed four remarkable audiences in Portland, Spokane, Boston and New Jersey. The first opportunity was my most nerve wracking speaking experience to date. Rather than expounding from my areas of business expertise, I was asked by Melody Biringer, founder of Urban Campfire, to disclose how I overcame one of my largest personal challenges. The exact assignment was: if you were leaving earth on a spaceship, what one lesson would you share before you departed?
After several iterations and lots of angst and sleepless nights over how deep I would go with this talk—I took the floor that night, lowered my mask and gave what was described as an incredibly raw, painfully honest and transformative talk about how my early life experience led me to a very unhappy and toxic relationship as a young woman and then how I worked myself through all of that to a place of psychological and emotional freedom today.
Several of my clients were in the audience and they reached out to me as did many of the audience members over the following days to tell me how my story helped them make connections between their life today with their early life that they had never considered before. Ironically, what felt like one of the most excruciating experiences for me as a storyteller (because I was sharing stories that brought up so much shame, pain and heartache), had not only liberated me but also had helped the audience members access unexplored parts of their souls, hearts and psyches as well. This was not your average dinner party with speakers—this was a communal evolution.
But this is not where the story ends.
While I thought that this experience at Urban Campfire was almost more of a personal ‘stretch’ assignment, I had no idea that it would end up forever transforming the manner in which I approach my business role as a teacher and coach. Without all that much conscious planning, each time I turned on my microphone and commenced my next corporate speaking engagement, I began by sharing my personal and professional narrative that had led me to becoming their instructor that day. What I uniquely experienced as a person AND an evolving professional is exactly what makes my particular teachings and sensibilities what they are today—it’s all part of the same story.
For the first time, I felt comfortable lowering my ‘corporate’ guise and exposing my challenges, my frustrations, my discontent, my joys….my SELF…. all while I was still teaching them the disciplines and practices that I had promised in my training contracts.
And the response was magical…..
Every time I completed my trainings, men and women charged right up to me and shared THEIR deeply personal similar challenges, long hoped for dreams, frustrations, opportunities, new ‘ahas’, follow up questions, requests for follow up calls and sessions….this had never happened before with such intensity, passion and TRUST.
And that is what I believe happened to me this last month. I uncovered the power that my own authentic storytelling has on my audiences; by sharing with them from a very intimate and honest place, they in turn were drawn close to me immediately because they TRUSTED my intentions and were all the more open to allowing me to guide them in their own process of self discovery, development and transformation. Wow!!! What a gift.
Thank YOU Urban Campfire, Meeting Planners International-Cascadia Educational Conference, Boston College’s 1st Women’s Summit and Novartis Vaccines Career Development Program for hosting me and allowing me to be a part of your communities. I will never forget our time together.