A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to see Glennon Doyle, author of Carry On Warrior and Love Warrior, speak in Madison. I went in with relatively low expectations. The last speaker I saw was definitely not worth the $65 ticket, and I worried Glennon wouldn’t even live up to her $29 entry fee. But she was fantastic!
For an hour and a half, she told one story after another, in answer to a series of questions. I was tuned in and laughing the whole time, and left completely impressed.
She made it look so easy.
You gotta start somewhere
When I was first coaching, I wasn’t any good at it.
Like most new coaches, I had a hard time overcoming the need to give advice and fix things. I mean, isn’t that what they were paying me for? Well in coaching, it isn’t. Coaching is all about holding the client as the expert in their own life. The coach’s job is to help them create new awareness and make a plan for action, not tell them what to do.
Over time, of course, I got better.
And now, having coached for more than 10,000 hours, I’m really good at it! I didn’t just practice, I took loads of classes, learned from other credentialed coaches, got tons of feedback, and over time my skills improved. Just like the gymnast who practices her dismount over and over until she can’t get it wrong.
Moving right along
After all that work, the smart thing to do would have just been to relax and coach! But that would be too easy, so I decided I wanted to become a speaker as well as a coach. To me it feels like a natural evolution of the teaching and coaching that I love so much, so why not?
I’ll tell you why: it’s hard!
And when I first decided I wanted to be a speaker, I wasn’t very good at it at all. I kept wanting to teach, to cram a half day of content into a 60-minute keynote. This set me up for an hour of really fast talking and audiences that walked away feeling like they’d tried to drink from a fire hose. But, I am nothing if not persistent. So, for the past five+ years I have been working hard to get better.
I go to National Speakers Association conferences twice a year to learn everything I can from the best in the business. I work with speech coaches before all of my big events to improve the details, hone my stories, work on my laugh lines, and master my dismount. Because I know I won’t get better sitting at home feeling bad about myself.
We all work hard for what we want
As I walked away from watching Glennon, I felt jealous.
It looked so easy for her. She had the perfect story for every question. She was so funny. Why can’t I be a funny storyteller like her?! And then I did what I often do: I got obsessed with watching videos of her. I cannot tell you how many I watched in the days following the event.
And you know what I learned? She tells the same stories all the time.
Of course she does! Why? Because she is not a mythical funny storytelling creature.
She works hard and practices just like I do. She has to tell stories a few times to get them just right. And she speaks all the time. She tours a lot and puts in the work of doing it over and over. And that is why she’s great.
Play your own game
Another thing I need to remember is I won’t ever be Glennon. Because she’s Glennon! My goal shouldn’t be to be like her, it should be to be the best version of myself that I can be.
My speaking skills have improved a ton because of all of this work. And because it’s important to me, I’ll keep putting the work in.
And one of these days I’ll get it just right, and I’ll have to find a new mountain to climb.
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