A few months ago, a friend from my doctoral program reached out to me and asked if I would consider being the keynote speaker for her university’s commencement ceremony. This is a small, private university but still I hesitated. I was nervous. Although I love facilitating professional development, I am not a natural speaker and I get nervous having to prepare anything more than a few minutes of talking in a room full of strangers. But then I remembered my word of 2019…
One of the reasons SHINE became my word this year was to motivate me to step out of my comfort zone and to try new things, especially professionally. So after my initial hesitation I committed to my friend to be the keynote speaker.
The commencement ceremony was this weekend and I’m so glad I made myself try this new thing. Over the last few weeks I worked on my speech, crafting a story that was personal and that also had a message for new graduates. I talked about passion, purpose, and people. I am proud of myself and just wanted to take a moment to reflect on why I even hesitated, because there are some leadership and learning implications.
- Sometimes we don’t try something because we think we aren’t good enough, or don’t have anything to offer. I often see this when people are scared to contribute on social media, believing that they don’t have anything worth sharing. But you never know when your work will be the exact inspiration someone else needs.
- Sometimes we let fear take over. I am a proud introvert and I know what fuels me and what drains me. However, sometimes I use my introvert status as an excuse to avoid something that feels uncomfortable. How often is that true for new learning challenges? When someone has a learning setback, they often use it as excuse to give up, instead of to persevere. Ironically, I also spoke about fixed versus growth mindset in my speech!
- Sometimes we just don’t want to work hard at yet another thing. One of my first thoughts when asked, was to say no just because I didn’t want to give up a free Saturday. And if I had known then how busy the three weeks leading up to the event were going to be, I probably would have said no! I quoted Simon Sinek in my speech saying, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” At first, the request to do this felt like stress. But when I realized I had something worthwhile to share, about lessons I’ve learned and what I love about my own journey, it became a passion.
I’m writing this more for myself than anyone else – to remind myself to not let any of these sometimes trip me up in the future. I’m writing this happy that SHINE continues to find it’s way into my life throughout this year.
How does your word of the year show up for you?
What does stepping out of your comfort zone look like for you?