I’m coming off of a mountain top kind of week after an incredible speaking event in Florida for Keller Williams. The uplifting experience couldn’t have come at a better time. Prior to last week, I’d received some harsh criticism on social media and was feeling a little discouraged. As strong as I may appear to be, I am also a very sensitive person. This sensitivity can make what I do (speaking and writing) a bit challenging from time to time, as criticism is inevitable.
In the past, I would hold back and not express myself because I was afraid of what others would think and say. What got me through my fear was observing my late husband, Andrew, during the final ten months of his battle with cancer. He did everything he could to write and speak his message even after undergoing brain surgery, even after not being able to get out of bed each week because he was weak and sick from chemo and radiation. He showed me our stories are worth sharing, NO MATTER WHAT, because by doing so we can empower others to see a different perspective on life. Until his last breath, he was an example of what could be done if a person chose to embrace gratitude, faith, family, and love more fully, NO MATTER WHAT. By choosing to embrace these qualities, Andrew felt a person could change their life and the lives of their family. I know this to be true, because that’s exactly what happened to Ellie and me.
Watching Andrew spread this message to others in his final days put things into perspective for me. Suddenly my fears about what others might think or say became a lot smaller and my desire to help others became massive. I remember coaching clients and friends around their desires to speak or write, and found they, too, had the same fears of judgement as I once did. We worked on empowering choices they could make, despite their fears.
If you’ve ever wanted to share your story, either in writing, speaking, or both, but find that fear is holding you back, this post is for you. I’d like to offer you a couple truths I’ve discovered while on my speaking and writing journey. These truths are universal and a natural result of authentically sharing our stories, which means they apply to every one of us. We can all think of a million reasons why we shouldn’t share our story, but here are just a few of the many fulfilling reasons why we should:
- Just by standing on stage and speaking, you give someone courage and permission to be courageous. We all know public speaking is one of the top fears of any human being, so simply by standing up there and speaking you are inspiring someone to be a little more courageous. They may think, If she/he can do it, so can I.
- You give others an opportunity to heal and express themselves. Because of the nature of my story, I’ve had many tearful conversations. Cancer touches many people and there can be serious pain associated with that experience. I give a lot of hugs and try to listen more than I speak in those moments. I notice there is an opportunity for connection and healing in giving someone some space to share their story with you. This is one of the most fulfilling reasons to me because I receive so much inspiration by hearing their stories.
- You help others see a different perspective and realize they are not alone. This truth is powerful because I witness it happening while I’m onstage. We all have preconceived notions of who someone is based on how they look and are guilty of creating a shallow story in our minds to go along with their physical appearance. When we share our story honestly and sincerely, connection happens. For instance, the energy from the audience during the beginning of my speech is completely different from the energy in the middle and the end of it. The audience and I start out feeling separate, but then, as the speech continues, a real person with a real story begins to emerge. Suddenly, we are united by life’s universal challenges and we realize we’re not as alone as we think.
These are just a few of the reasons why I’ve found sharing my story to be meaningful and important. I hope this brings you encouragement and courage if and when you decide your story needs to be told.
I would love to know…
If you’ve had the opportunity to share your story, what’s been the most powerful lesson you’ve taken away from the experience? Or, if you want to share your story, but haven’t yet, what fears are still holding you back?
Now is the moment to have courage! In the words of my dear Andrew, written in his sweet book, The Ellie Project, to our daughter, Ellie, “Courage doesn’t come because you are big, strong, or without fear, courage comes because you aren’t big, you aren’t strong, you do fear, but you DON’T GIVE UP.”
Thank you so much for spending time with me today! Choose Courage! Love and Blessings.
PS – Looking forward to speaking to the Flower Mound Rotary Club tomorrow afternoon!
PPS – I had my first TEDx rehearsal on Monday! It’s almost here. If you’d like to come on April 7th at 6 PM at Marcus High School, you can purchase your ticket here: https://tedxmarcushighschool.org/ticket-information/.