Here is my third and final tidbit of what I learned from my TEDx experience: One of the comments I received from one of my practice sessions plopped me right on the path of congruency.
A woman told me that as I told my story of being hit by the car I was . . . smiling. She explained how incongruent my body language and my words were.
I was genuinely surprised. How could I be smiling while I told that story?
I pondered over this feedback for a few days. I thought of all the times I’ve been asked to recount the story of my accident and remembered all the shocked faces I seen as I told it. And the inevitable, “Oh, I’m so sorry I asked.”
And then I realized something.
I have grown so accustomed to taking care of people as they hear my story that I have developed tactics to soften the blow. I smile as I tell them, “Yes, my leg came right off.” I veer the conversation toward something funny like how my prosthetic leg easily ‘farts.’ I wave off the impact the accident had on my life with a swish of my wrist.
But after receiving feedback from this woman that I smiled as I told the audience that my leg was ripped from my body, I had to rethink this. How does it benefit anyone if I’m not authentic enough to show my sadness? My anger?
I worked with my speaker coach, Cindy Brooks and she helped me identify the various feelings that arose during each part of my talk. We developed techniques for me to be present with and express those feelings.
The final result was that, when I gave my TEDx talk, I was authentically present and expressive. Even though I knew my anger and my message could push some people’s buttons, I didn’t take care of the audience. I felt bold in my expression and strong in my delivery. That’s not to say that I didn’t feel vulnerable. Giving that talk was incredibly tender.
My take-away, my most profound takeaway: Be congruent.
Do not sacrifice self-expression for caretaking.
Give myself permission to be unapologetic in the telling of my story.
An Invitation: Where do you see yourself being incongruent? What small step can you take to be in higher alignment with who you truly are?