This week, I’m presenting my seminar, It’s On You: Taking Responsibility for your Choices, to 125 students in grades 6-8. It’s new material, and I’m not as familiar presenting to teens and tweens as I am to younger kids or to adults.
So it was a growing edge. We all have these, if we are challenging ourselves. I love Rob Bell’s reminder that “butterflies are good because they mean you are in the game.”
When something seems hard, that often means it’s worth doing. The reward is in the risk. You step out, unsure of the outcome, believing that when the chips are down, you will have what you need to complete the task.
I used to overthink everything. My mind would race ahead, attempting to cover every possible zig and zag, producing nothing but anxiety and despair. For this seminar, I decided to try putting my energy into my own confidence instead of all the eventualities that I cannot control.
I prepared, to the best of my ability, by going through the slides and recording my delivery so I could listen to it and fix the problem areas. I went for long walks and imagined myself relaxed and happy when in front of the students. I asked a few specific friends to encourage me leading up to the presentation – to cheer me on and remind me that I was up to the challenge.
Every one of these things helped to make the seminar a success. Planning, positive visualization, and organized cheerleading. When we step out in vulnerability, asking for what we need for a challenge we are facing, we can better prepare for a happy outcome.
I just read Jenny Lawson’s hilarious book, Furiously Happy, and author Neil Gaiman gives her this piece of advice when she had to record her audiobook: “Pretend you’re good at it.” I found that to be helpful on the morning of my first seminar. It’s like playing a trick; pulling the wool over people’s eyes by acting as if I was a polished, confident speaker when really my stomach was jumping up and down before I got up to speak.
My first slide in It’s On You is about cutting the tie that connects your inner sense of value with your outside performance. It feels healthy to practice this skill myself. To know that I am worthy of love and care, whether I deliver a successful seminar or fall flat on my face (or somewhere in between).
The risk is the reward. It helps us grow, to shoot for more the next time around, to bank up our trust in our abilities and skills. We simply do the very best we can, knowing that it’s better by far to have tried than to give in to our fear and back down from a challenge. It’s enough just to be in the game.