The 10 Lessons I Learned from the TEDx Stage

I had prepared for hundreds of hours. I was about to realize a dream. Yet, all I could say was “I can’t.”

The hard part of dreaming big is not the dreaming part. It is the reality part. That is what I discovered when I finally got the chance to go on the TEDx stage. As I stood on the side, looking out at the audience, I thought I was going to throw up. I told the assistant holding the curtain the dreaded words, “I can’t.” Here I was, a seasoned speaker who had graced some pretty incredible stages with some huge names, and I was scared shitless.

What was different?

This was my big, BIG dream and I didn’t want to blow it. Not doing it seemed to be the best choice in that nanosecond. But, I did, with a little push from that persistent assistant, go out on that stage and deliver the TEDx talk and make my dream come true.

It wasn’t easy, so I thought I would share a few lessons I learned along the way that may help you realize your big, BIG dream.

1. We need to embrace the value we bring to the table.  I had dreamed of doing a TEDx talk for years, but I never quite believed I was good enough. Do you know who has graced TEDx stages??? Why would they want me? I had been asked to speak alongside some giants and yet I worried about applying to TEDx. I had a total disconnect from how the world viewed me. So, I had to do the inner work to embrace and believe that I had something to bring to the table before I could even apply. It is my personal stories, that I shared right from the very beginning of my talk, which bring value to this topic. Embracing our own worth is the first step of any journey…don’t you think?

2. Preparation is the key to success. I know, you have heard this a thousand times before but it bears repeating. There were 600 applicants for this TEDx opportunity. 600!!!! I had to have a kick-ass application and I had to be ready to go if I was chosen. I cannot tell you how many hours of TEDx talks I watched. I did everything I could to improve my chances. Success doesn’t happen in the big moment. Success happens in the thousand little moments before.

3. Expect to battle fear. The moment you decide to do something big, fear will swoop down and try to steal your dream. It is evolution after all. Your mind wants to keep you alive and as soon as you give it a signal that you are uncomfortable it thinks you are in danger and tries to convince you to either curl up in a ball on the bathroom floor or run for the hills! I won the constant battle with fear I faced during this process by surrounding myself with supportive people, getting the rest I needed, eating well, exercising, and doing EFT (woowoo, maybe, but effective woowoo!). All of these things are great weapons against any fear!

4. Practice makes perfect. This is cliché but so very true! I had 42 days to prepare. Sounds like a lot, but time flies when you are having fun. I made this talk a priority and I spent hundreds of hours tweaking it, practicing it under different conditions, and in every conceivable environment I could think of until I felt this talk deep down in my bones. If you watch the first minute, you can see where I wobble from nerves and how the relentless practice saved me as it took over. Everyone, I mean from Tony Robbins to the funny and amazing drive-through attendant, has to practice every day, forever, to be and continue to be the best!

5. There is no room here for control freaks. Oh, how I wish I could control the world…it would be so much better don’t you think? Truth is, when you are involved in something like TEDx and THEY are running the show not YOU, you have to follow their rules and pretend you like it. Would I have done things a bit differently? Probably. Would I pick a different title for my talk if I could? Absolutely. But, it is not my stage and it is not my gig. I was a guest and needed to act accordingly. That is pretty much the scenario for life. So, keep the control freak at home and learn to let go of what you cannot control out there in the world!

6. This is not a time for ventriloquism. TEDx talks are about individuals sharing ideas worth spreading and so you need to be…YOU! They have already seen Brené Brown and Simon Sinek. They don’t need to see a poor impression of them. I dressed like me, which is not the standard conservative dress code often seen on the TEDX stage, because I wanted to BE me. Deliver your talk in your language, your “isms,” and your personality. Do you think Brené or Simon was thinking about how they could be just like someone else? Of course not! Stop copying and start being you and watch the success pour in.

7. Start big and then narrow it down. The theme of this TEDx talk was “community”, which is a very wide topic. I had to find the lane that fit the experiences of my life and the message I wanted to share. That is how life works. You have a million opportunities and you need to find the lane that fits you, not fit into the first one that comes along or the one that others think is right. It is like wearing shoes that are too tight; it makes for a very painful journey when it isn’t the right fit!

8. This is THE moment…don’t blow it! So many of us believe Eminem when he says we have one shot. It feels like that before you get on the stage you have been dreaming of being on for so long and that has a long-standing tradition of superstars made in that moment. Just before I got on stage I freaked. I said to the organizer, I can’t do this! I believed this was my one shot and I didn’t want to blow it. But it wasn’t. There are no make or break moments. That is what second chances and comebacks are built on. You prepare and do your best knowing that ONE moment does not control your destiny.

9. What…you think just because the talk is done it is over? Preparing is step one. Doing the talk is step two. Leveraging and sharing your experience is step three. Endorsements for athletes come after their big win, not before. You need a strategy to market the talk because what is the point of a great idea if you don’t spread it? People are busy and you need to do a lot of work to be seen and be heard. Have a strategy to do that! I invite you to watch and share my TEDx because I believe it has an idea worth spreading!

10. Find another mountain. The fulfillment of a dream can be bittersweet. It is awesome that you achieved it. Then comes the…how do I top it? Very few mountaineers climb just one mountain. They get to the top and savour the moment. Then, they look for a bigger one. That is what makes life so amazing. There is always another dream to go after! My big dream is to build my own community of Global Impact Makers who are working hard to make the world a better place in their own, unique way. Together, we can conquer any mountain! If you want to be a part of this community, come on over and hang out with us! I believe the more the merrier!!!

TEDx was a dream come true and an experience that mimics life in a big way. I learned so much about myself and about achieving success in the process. If you want to learn the “hows” of getting on the TEDx stage yourself, or any stage for that matter, let’s make it happen! I get super jazzed when I see my students get up on stage and shine!

No matter how big your dream is, if you follow some or all of the tips above, you can make it a reality and skip the whole “I can’t” part and move right into the “wow, this is incredible” part!

Please share this blog with others – the power of community is in your hands!

Wishing you the success you deserve,