I just spent a couple of great days at Nick Morgan’s PublicWords Speakers Forum.
Nick had asked me to come and speak to the group about my experience as a (working) speaker, how I’ve built my career and–most important–what I’ve learned along the way.
“Tell us how you did it,” Nick said.
Now, I don’t consider myself to have “arrived,” by any means. While I’m happy with how I’ve progressed over the years, I know I have much, much further to go; nonetheless, I was deeply honored to have been asked. And besides, I knew I’d have a great time with everyone attending the event. I also felt fairly confident that I’d be able to conjure up something of value for others who aspired to speak professionally.
What I didn’t expect, however, was that in preparing to teach others what I’ve learned, I would learn so much about myself.
Here’s what I did:
First, I thought back over the course of my career and recalled in vivid detail every experience I’ve had along the way, every step of my professional journey so far. I brought it all back. The good, the bad, the traumatic, and the ecstatic.
Next, I reflected on how one step led to the next. (I’m still marveling at how, in retrospect, the progression of things makes such incredible sense).
And then, asking myself what I learned from each experience, I extracted very clear operating principles that others could use in building their careers. While one or two of these principles were obvious, the others were things that I had never realized about my work–or myself–before. Not consciously, anyway. And–this is going to sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not–for the first time since I embarked on this career over two decades ago, I really, fully came to understand the nature of the work.
And those are the things I shared with the group. And I’ll share them with you, too, in my next post.
For now, here’s the challenge I have for you:
Tell us how YOU did it.
Whatever it is.
Think of something that you’ve accomplished in your life so far, something you’re proud of. It could be a skill that you’ve mastered, a career that you’ve built, a quality that you’ve developed, a relationship that you’ve cultivated, a child that you’ve raised. And then take yourself through the same process I used:
Recall all your experiences leading up to that accomplishment so far
Reflect on the flow of one event to the other
Ask yourself what you learned, and then
Extract the principles that the rest of us can use to bring value into our lives.
And don’t be surprised at how much you’ll end up teaching yourself about yourself. And teaching the rest of us, too, if you’d care to share.
I hope you do.