“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable.” – Brené Brown
Any great speaker or writer becomes great because they are vulnerable. They look shame directly in the eye and say “I’m speaking about you whether you like it or not.” They are shameless in their pursuit of sharing their message. They are open, honest, and direct – without “trying” to be. They want the world to know that it can be different – and they know their talk is not about them.
Look at the top TED Talks, the top motivation speakers of all time, and the best bloggers/authors/writers. They stand out because they named their shame, they spoke their truth out loud, and they gave themselves grace. They were vulnerable with the world – regardless of the judgment of others. And since so few humans are willing to be vulnerable, we see them as guiding lights.
In order to be a great speaker, you must be vulnerable.
And in order to be vulnerable, you must first give yourself the most grace.
(You might have to read that over again. I’ll wait.)
Shame by definition is a painful feeling of humiliation. The biggest fear of any speaker is the fear of being shamed – humiliated in front of their audience. It’s one of the biggest reasons more people don’t become speakers.
As speakers who are even the slightest bit vulnerable, it takes a LOT to get ready to get up in front of a crowd of strangers and tell them what we need to tell them. Our personal stories, our client stories, our methodology, our expertise – all out there for any audience member to tear apart.
When we’re being vulnerable, we also have this overwhelming desire to be the best speaker at the conference – or we’ve failed at doing our job. We have to get the best scores on evaluation forms – or we want to quit. We have to get immediate satisfaction hearing individuals praise us – or we’ll go back to our hotel room disappointed. (No? Only me?)
Being vulnerable means being open to what shame says about us. It means that there’s a chance we’ll get hurt for sharing our soft parts. It means that we are opening our hearts up to being crushed by the one person in our audience who isn’t ready to hear what we have to say.
Being vulnerable also means we have to be ready to go through the fire with enough grace surrounding ourselves that we won’t get burned. It means that we have to stop carrying other people’s burdens and allow ourselves not to accept their judgment for even one moment. It means we have to not be worried about being the best, but being exactly who we are and sharing what’s meant to be shared from our mouths.
On our most recent Rockstar Community call, I kept hearing “I’m really behind” and “I’m not as far along as I expected to be.” I was hearing shame. I was hearing judgment. I was hearing pain.
The word GRACE came up and was used every time I heard shame and judgment after that. We dubbed that call ’The Grace-Filled Call.”
Grace by definition is courteous goodwill. I like to think of grace as offering the space to be imperfect without judgment.
Creating something new doesn’t allow space for judgment. Whenever judgment is present, creativity has chains hanging from it. Whenever vulnerability is present, it sucks the life out of shame and judgment. Grace is the path toward vulnerability. And on that path is where you’ll find the talk you’ve been trying to write.
No matter what you’re creating, here are 5 ways to give yourself a little grace in your creative space:
Taking a moment to clear the energy of the space you’re creating in will allow the creativity to flow. You can do this before you start writing your talk, before you get on stage, and the moment before you start speaking. It’s a simple exercise, but one we often forget before we dive into our creative energy. Take a deep breath in and remember to breathe it all back out.
2. Move Your Body.
Our bodies are incredible creations that are meant to be moved. Moving them and getting the energy flowing through them allows us to be our most creative. Turn on some music and dance. Go for a long walk with the dog without technology. Take a yoga class. The creativity will flow through you if you’re willing to move. This translates to practicing your speech AND to being on stage. Feel the movements of your body and notice what feels real or forced. Move your body in ways that feel natural and bigger than natural.
3. Schedule It.
I know, I know – creativity can’t be scheduled. But most of us say that we don’t have time to be creative, so let’s hack the system. If you’re a morning person, set your alarm 30 minutes earlier and start creativity before the day gets started. If you’re a night owl, turn off the TV 30 minutes earlier than usual and get some creative energy in before you go to bed. If you have a scheduled lunch break, set that time as your creative time by making lunch at the same time as you make your breakfast so you can use every minute to create.
4. Go Back To Your Why.
You’re writing and giving this talk for a reason. Make sure you have that “why” defined and written somewhere. Maybe put it on your laptop or your desk or even your mirror and go back to the reason you are doing this. Before you walk out on stage, remind yourself why you’re giving this talk. If you do this, you’ll give yourself even more grace when (yes, when) you mess up. Because… (see #5)
5. It’s Not About You.
Your talk is not for you – and reminding yourself of this should take all the pressure off. If you are writing a talk that will get people to like you, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re writing a talk and giving it so that your audience can walk away with new tools, a new perspective, and new decisions, then keep going! Your stories are not for you. Your words are not for you. This talk is not about you. So, give yourself a whole ton of grace and write the dang thing.
Yes, these apply to all sorts of creative spaces – like me writing a book. The book I’ve been writing for 4 years. I wrote this post for myself just as much as I wrote it for you. So, know that I’m standing in here with you – here in my shameless, grace-filled, vulnerable mantras speaking truth to drown out the lies that aren’t allowed here anymore. To giving you what you need because it’s not about me. To sucking the life out of shame and judgment through grace.
You’ve got this! You’re doing a great job.