Trial by Fire - Practice and Resilience
I was recently digging through my Hon double stack filing cabinet (AKA The Local Black Hole) and stumbled upon one of my first presentations titled ADD-Ventures in Self Management. I had to laugh as I recalled the experience because the actual presentation resembled nothing close to self-management. Asked to deliver a "by the book" ADHD strategy and tips session for a local education seminar in Gaffney, SC — I broke rank and presented something I scratched on a napkin 15 minutes before I was introduced. I remember wandering the halls of the conference center minutes before my introduction in a state of crisis mumbling "It's not what matters!"
Instead of useful tips and strategies I delivered a passioned talk more akin to Bob Brooks' Islands of Competence presentation but in a style that was heavy on emotion and light on substance or form and anything but competent. I can still see the organizer's icy glare as she handed me my gift of appreciation and quickly turned on her heels.
The mediocre presentations continued over the years
An everything-but-the-kitchen-sink presentation to middle school teachers in Morgantown, NC where I overwhelmed them with too much info and lost the group in 7 minutes.
A presentation in Asheville, NC where in describing my own ADHD experience, I lost my composure and sheepishly asked for a Kleenex.
A presentation to NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) when I completely lost my way, the screen literally went blank in front of 200 people.
A coaching/mountain biking program outside of Asheville called Mindful Motion where two people showed up. The concept was to work on a specific coaching topic as we rode between "coaching stations". Each participant brought their own topic, both of which I will never forget...
Do I stay in this relationship with my current boyfriend?
How do I remove the mold from my basement?
Need I say more?
It was terrible but something made me soldier on. Amidst all the mediocrity and pain of embarrassment were moments of competence and confidence - "Aha" moments that could only happen outside the confines of my own brain. I can still stumble and trip in a presentation but now the material (if well prepared) flows evenly and on target. Now I can speak on a number of topics from ADHD to leadership and accountability to coaching. But every single topic had to go through the fire of sharing in a public arena be it presenting, teaching or writing. More important, my perspective on the failings has shifted from ammunition for my once vocal Inner Critic to a necessity to create change I want to create. The pain or 'acute awareness' is no longer a warning sign to turn back but a road sign to suggest real change is just over the hill. I see this kind of pain as the learning that has not yet been revealed to me.
To develop your voice you have to practice your voice
ADHD can reinforce thoughts of doubt like "Wait another day", "I'm not quite ready" or "Who would want to listen to what I have to say?". When trying something new we all can perceive the stumbling and pain as warnings to stop. Stumbling is getting a bad rap during these times where we place convenience above more worthy principles and values.
If you have something to share with the world then share it! Start small but start. Also, start smart. Use helpful learning processes like Lean Start-Up Principles (Build-Measure-Learn) and build a bench of super positive, super smart and super honest supporters who have license to give unadulterated feedback. Back in 2004 I had only a handful of 'Cam Believers' because 1) I didn't know I could have them and 2) I didn't know how to utilize them as a resource. Now I have a deep bench who give me lovely (really) and sometimes biting feedback. Sharing material with a small group with high standards can limit the collateral damage one may experience from a larger anonymous group. Finally, sharing with a larger audience gives you the chance to take a break from being stuck inside your head and expose your ideas. The world wants to hear what you have to say.
Expose your Ruts, Get Better Results - Seek out new experiences
Owning Your Inspiration - 4 elements: Refuel, Connect, Articulate, Practice