I'm literally playing on a big stage.
When the event was in early planning, I was struck with a clear picture of myself telling a story on stage. It was a powerful, vibrant vision. So clear and powerful that I knew it was going to happen. That I would get to speak.
Almost every big accomplishment I've made has been preceded by such an image.
But there was one little problem.
I was on the planning committee--a position where I could influence the outcome. Why did I think it was ok for me to submit a proposal to speak? Shouldn't I be enabling others and just enjoying what I helped create?
I put my idea aside. There wasn't even a call for speakers yet. I was going to let it be.
Except, the idea kept nudging me.
Months pass, preparations are made. Finally, a call for speakers goes out. Days pass. I do nothing.
We have meetings to talk about the review process. I am silent.
The day of the deadline comes. I feel something. Like a person standing behind me. I look at my calendar.
The deadline is two hours away.
I write a hurried note to my colleagues on the committee that would it be ok if I submitted a proposal if I could get it in on time.
I started writing frantically. My story about the Gay Marriage battle of Prop 8 started flowing out. I dropped it in the submission box.
My colleagues didn't comment.
I was grateful for "polite silence". It wasn't lost on me that none of my colleagues had submitted a proposal.
I felt like a greedy, self-serving ass.
The review process began. I was supposed to be part of the process. I wanted to stay out.
But there was urge again. The person standing behind me. I read every submission. There were some good ones. Mine was one of them.
Ugh. I withheld my input for a day. I didn't want to vote.
I rated myself along with the others. I gave reasons for every rating including the marks I gave myself. Let the cards fall where they would. I was going to advocate for my story and let others tell me I was wrong if I was.
To my surprise, my peers on the committee were saying yes to my story.
I made the list of finalists. I had an interview with the selection chair. As of yesterday afternoon, I was in.
There were several times I could have bailed out. But I wanted to tell this story. Not just have the story be told.
I said Yes to me.
One of the barriers to own creative expression (any expression really) is the persistent belief that my voice doesn't belong. The reasons for this are many and varied. Every time I decide I want to be seen or heard, those voices telling me to STFU and sit down will be there.
Recently, I coached someone who is working on a significant social good project. Her work is literally touching millions of people. She is tortured by the idea that her ego is running away with her.
I asked her if her mission was important enough for her to bear the discomfort of those thoughts?
For me, the decision to advocate for my story was the same. I had to be willing to be uncomfortable and even run the risk of looking like a self serving ass.
I just really wanted to tell this story. Now I get to.