The One Word that Made Me Authentic


"Get real!" Has somebody ever said that to you?  I never gave it much thought. As a speaker, I prepare solid content and tell stories to support the principles. I don't think "Am I being authentic?" I watch the audience and use interaction to keep them engaged.

But something happened yesterday when I spoke to a group of women entrepreneurs. It was a lunch time meeting I had attended once or twice. Some of the people were familiar; others were new to me. Before beginning my talk on Perfecting Your Presence, I shared my career path. There were ups and downs and bumps along the way. As I talked about my first career change as a Speech Pathologist in the New York City schools, I relived the difficulty in making the transition to the business world. It was a two year search that wasn't going anywhere.

One night out of desperation, I said, "God, I surrender. Whatever you want me to do, I'll do. Just get me out of here." A few weeks later I saw an ad in the New York Times for an entry level trainer. They offered me the job and the rest is history.  

The lesson is that when you surrender, let go, take a pause- you allow room for something new to appear. Surrender is a form of humility. When I finished my presentation the women told me how much they related to me. They loved that I used the word "God." Really? They asked me if I would say "God" if speaking in a corporation. They thought the story demonstrated faith and they were inspired. I was surprised.

I told them I didn't think about it because I was quoting myself. It was not a talk about religion. Why would that be offensive to anybody? Those were the words I really said to myself at that point in time. I hadn't planned on telling that story. I was present in the moment and the words came out of me. I was simply speaking my truth.  Apparently, it made a big impact.

Lessons learned:

You can be surprised by your audience even after 20+ years experience.

It pays to take risks. (Even when you don't know you're doing it).

People want relationship as much as they want your content.

To convey presence you must be authentic.

Vulnerability creates trust.

People are craving the truth. So get real.