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Speaking Freely

01 September 2015

Every day, if we are fortunate enough, we are given a small reminder of what is important in life. It may come from a client, a peer, a friend, a mentor. In some cases, it may come from a child. Just make sure you are humble enough to listen.

Recently, my daughter  was one of only two kids from her school selected to compete in a heat to go through to regional speech finals with thirteen other schools. Her topic? How kids can make a difference, that when they speak up, then change can happen.

This is very much my daughter, and I had no doubts at all about her ability to get up on that stage and not only deliver, but to actively enjoy herself – which she did. I was, and am, immensely proud of her, not least because this was an idea she developed herself, without any assistance, and it shows just what an extraordinary individual she is.

She showed courage in her ability, courage in her speech, and courage in her fearless approach to that stage (I might borrow some next time I speak!)

But it was the amazingness of all the children involved that astounded me. The ability to challenge, to dare to say to themselves ‘I can do this’ without a qualm, or a hint of self-doubt. One boy in particular lost his train of thought – in fact, he forgot his words completely – and in front of a packed hall, ran off in tears. And yet, five minutes later, after some very deep breaths, I would imagine some noisy and heartfelt nose-blowing, and to the sound of resounding applause, he got back out there…

…and delivered.

That takes bravery, courage, and the ability to learn from a failure – and move on. What an innate gift he already has!

The eventual winner? It wasn’t the loudest speaker, or the funniest, or the best-rehearsed. They were composed, and had, even at this young age, quiet strength and great delivery. They spoke from the heart. Their honesty, their clarity – it was like looking through a pane of very earnest glass.

In him, and of course in my daughter, and in that young boy who made his hiccupping but nonetheless graceful way back to the stage, lay my lesson for the day in what was, and is, important.

It was about stopping and being present in the moment. About reality, and what the future holds in terms of leadership. It was about being inspired, and allowing inspiration to just happen, instead of feeling I have to push for it. It was about seeing true courage in action, and recognising that sometimes the hardest thing to do is realise a dream, because then it IS reality.

Just as for those kids, as they stepped up to the stage, and let the words fly free, the minute you realise your dreams means they become public property. This is a very big moment, as it is actualisation and a lack of ownership at the same time.

Speaking freely? Take a lead from their bravery, and stop, be present, and realise just what you have achieved.

Then get ready to step back onto the stage, and let the speech unfold again.

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