I reckon I can speak publicly.
And quite of lot of people think that automatically equates to me being an incredibly brave person. They say things like “I would never have the balls to stand on stage in front of hundreds of people”. The truth, in fact, is that most of us actually could speak in public given the right training, the right reason and the right preparation.
I’m far less brave than I am prepared.
It’s the extent to which you can master it that matters. You see, above could is capable, above capable is good and above good is mastery and all the impact and competitive advantage that comes with that.
On Friday, I spoke to a crowded room at the esteemed Showcase event for Thought Leaders Business School. Standing in front of a roomful of peers, contemporaries and other influential luminaries was daunting.
I muttered to a fellow speaker, New Zealand’s HR guru Callum McCurdy, just before walking on stage “Gimme a roomful of strangers any day!”
I was ok. I’m pretty sure I was capable. I may have even been good. But it was some distance from mastery.
The realisation that I’m not yet a master speaker was just a little crushing. I’ve been on the telly. I’ve done radio. I’ve trained thousands of people. But my performance left me feeling that the gap between my current state and my potential is wider than I thought.
And you know what? That’s just fine.
Working in the tension between what’s current and what’s possible is where genuine learning and growth occurs. Sometimes that growth is slow and steady and sometimes it’s wild and accelerated. Either way, it happens.
Since Showcase, I’ve also had a wave of people tell me that they absolutely loved my presentation. So perhaps some of the learning was meant to be private and perhaps even being good as I was is an accomplishment in itself. Perhaps I even began inching towards mastery in the short time I had on stage.
Tension, disappointment and being stretched need not be cruelties to be avoided. They can be the teachers that allow us to truly stand out. That is, if standing out in your field sounds appealing.
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