This time last month I had the pleasure of speaking at TEDx in Frankfurt Germany.
What an experience.
Overwhelmed, humbled, a bucket list item firmly ticked off.
It was exciting, but it was also an undertaking. Which caught me off guard because I have been a professional speaker and performed on stages for years. But a Tedx stage is different.
I spoke about microaggressions.
Talking about how to address inherent racism to a sold out auditorium of approximately 600 majority white audience, is no easy feat. I didn’t think about the magnitude of this until moments before my talk.
I wanted to vomit.
But my friends say I have the courage of a lion, so I just took a moment to breathe, leaned into my nerves and vulnerability and stood on stage firmly and I’ve never felt more like I belonged on stage. There were audible gasps and tears from the audience. Some were challenged and some found connection and some were inspired.
I did my job. And as soon as I got off stage I wanted to do it again. But boy, it was tough.
The talk landed just 10 days after I had to say goodbye to one of my very best friends. I was simultaneously writing her eulogy and a Tedx talk. These powerful parallels of how life goes on and how we are often tested to dig deep were not lost on me.
But the truth is in the week before my talk, I did not feel strong.
I wanted to cancel the talk.
I wanted to be invisible, but I felt a strong call the courage to push through.
So I did.
Just before my talk I wanted to run again. But I stood firm, took a deep breath, focused on serving something bigger than my fears, getting this message out, so more and more people can be part of change and the rest was history.
There were many lessons learned but I will leave you with just one for now.
After my talk I was approached by one of my fellow speakers and extraordinary human being and journalist Can Dündar- (Read up on him if you want an absolute master class in courage, integrity and standing up for what’s right).
Can thanked me for my courage and vulnerability and acknowledged how hard it must’ve been for me – but his personal story is just extraordinary, including surviving an assassination attempt on his life. I mean that is something that is INCONCEIVABLE to most of us and there he was thanking me for my courage. He parted with just 7 words that I want to share with you today.
“Fear is contagious, but so is courage”
Have courage in 2020.
Even if you feel nervous to the point where you feel frightened, do it anyway, because by stepping into your vulnerability you inspire others, courage IS contagious and that’s where powerful change happens.