The 5 Things I Learned by Sharing my Story with 400 Women
It was a thrilling day for me, as it was my very first large-scale speaking opportunity of this nature and also a day in which I would share the stage with CNN-contributor and best-selling author Mel Robbins. Mel has become a friend of mine and an incredible inspiration to me. I believe that my standing on that stage was in large part due to her influence on my journey and her unabashed commitment to helping others.
As I took the stage, it became very apparent to me that there were lessons unfolding with each step I took. I nearly blacked out on my opening line as I looked out at the sea of faces in front of me. But as I shared my story and received reassuring smiles and nods, I settled in and remembered that *this* was the moment I had been waiting for. Here are the 5 golden lessons I reaped through sharing my story with 400 women:
1) No one wants to see you fail. Period.
The women in that audience wanted nothing more than to see me shine up on that stage. They urged me on with their smiles, their cheering and their tears, as I unfurled up there. They bobbed and weaved with me and my nervous chatter, my awkward fidgeting and my raw emotion. They were there with me, holding the space as if they knew it's exactly what I needed.
I had created so many stories in my brain leading up to this event, it's a wonder I stepped on stage! Some of these stories told the tale of me being a total fraud because I had yet to speak to a crowd of this size. Or about how I would be among many seasoned, talented, professionals and who the hell was I to prance up there on s? Mel has over 2M hits on her TED Talk and the other speakers had been featured on national news programs. I told myself the story that no one would believe me. Yet, I had multiple women stop me in the bathroom and the hallways to share their stories after my talk.
Do you tell yourself stories like this too?
I have to tell you, the idea that no one wanted to see me fail was a revelation and I hope it is for you too.
2) If you want to feel fabulous, dress the part.
I am a branding coach and I am pretty deliberate about the choices I make in my business design and visuals. Dressing for this event was no exception. In fact, it was THE thing for weeks leading up to it and the ritual of finding the perfect shoes, dress and necklace took on a life of its own as I prepared. But, truth be told, I believe that personal styling is an incredibly powerful element in your story. You better believe, that getting up on stage in front of 400 fellow women, I was going to look as fabulous as humanly possible! Because, whether we like it or not, these things DO matter in helping us step in to our power. And now that I think on it, the first question Mel answered and opened with during her talk was where she got her phenomenal jumpsuit! Dress the part, ladies & gents. This is one part of the equation we CAN control and not spend another second worrying about. (Dress: Banana Republic, Shoes: , Necklace: Badgley Mischka via Rent the Runway, Bracelet: Lia Sophia).
3) Banish that image of perfection from your brain, immediately.
Here's the thing on perfection...it's just your fear wearing a pair of Louboutins. Women are the most intuitive creatures known to mankind. You are not getting on that stage and pulling the wool over their eyes. So your best bet is to strut up on that stage and show them who you are...good, bad and ugly. If you're nervous, tell them. If you're excited, tell them. Refer to Lesson #1 (No one wants to see you fail) and remember that all you have to do is show up as you. I had to tell remind myself of this over and over again. I had to remember that I was asked to speak at this event because the organizer connected with me and my story. She believed in me and I owed it to her and every woman in that room to come as I am.
There is no such thing as perfect and you will be loved more for your relatable stumble in to a room than you will for your "stepford wife strut."
4) Cotton mouth happens.
I had a vision of Fire Marshall Bill from In Living Color flickering through my brain as I spoke. I eyed the giant pitcher of water on the table, but there was no glass and while I want to be relatable to the audience, slurping water from a giant pitcher didn't strike me as the graceful move I wanted to be remembered for. For future reference, bring a bottle of water up there with you. My talk was only 15 minutes long, but 15 minutes is enough time to need a sip of water when your nervous-meter is at a 10 out of 10. Again, just trust me on this one.
5) It's ok to make life events like these a big deal.
I have to tell you, I was completely overwhelmed by the love and support from my friends and family in anticipation of my big speaking debut. Every, single one of my people showed up with calls, cards, flowers, text messages...my bestie even greeted me at the door with a sparkly bracelet for me to wear on stage. I was so humbled by the flood of love that came my way it brought me to tears on the drive home.
Now this isn't to say that my family and friends aren't always amazingly supportive, but the sparkly part about this moment was that I allowed myself to get excited about this opportunity. I shared that excitement with my people and they reciprocated with pump-up phone calls and cards to open on the morning of the event and flowers delivered to my front door.
So the big takeaway here? It's ok to get excited. You SHOULD tell your people so they can celebrate your wins right alongside you. Life is a collection of stories and memories, why not allow others the chance to revel in your victories too?