Updated: Sep 13, 2020
I was sitting at my desk on the second floor of that stuffy University building. Despite it being a fairly new location the ventilation system still poured out the old library-scented musty smell almost as if it came in a Scentsy package. And the room lacked any kind of a/c even though it was mid-April and Calgary was having a hotter than average spring.
All year long my classmates had been handing in essays and I had been doing presentations. Our final exam wasn't any different. There was a pile of duotangs and pretty-bound papers on the prof's desk and I was getting ready to speak on IVF and other alternatives to getting pregnant the “traditional way”. It was 1999 and my Sex Ed professor swore at the end I’d have a future in public speaking… it only took me 21 years to listen to her.
I SHINE/YOU SHINE
Each of us has a gift within us and our purpose is to find it and let it shine. And like Marianne Williamson says in her poem, Our Deepest Fear,
When we let our gift shine and celebrate it - we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
For me, my light, my gift from the Divine has been words. From the time I was little, I was making my own greeting cards cause I could just say what was in my heart better and clearer. And over the years I learned how to transfer that to the spoken word.
THOSE WHO HAVE HELD MY HAND
I want to also acknowledge that along our path there will be mentors, friends, bosses, guardian angels and even coaches that will help you find and hone in on that gift. I was given an opportunity to really practice and fine-tune my gift in two places - first with the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund or the JPMF, where I spent 6 years as the Public Educator for the charity to speak anywhere from kindergarten classrooms all the way to National stages on safety. I once even shared the stage with Lieutenant-General (ret) The Honorable Romeo Dallaire at a PTSD Symposium! To say the JPMF put me in places of opportunity is an understatement and for that, I am super grateful.
The other place I practiced my speaking and coaching skills have been within the World Financial Group company. WFG has a great personal development program and it definitely took me from a place where I had lost my identity of being a SAHM to a successful business coach, leader and speaker. My biggest and funnest crowd was speaking to over 800 people at the annual conference and I made it back on stage every year after. Super grateful to have been surrounded by some of the world's greatest speakers in that crowd!
HOW DOES IT COME TOGETHER
It’s hard to explain but because I know my gift isn’t about me but FOR me to serve others, it allows me to keep my ego out of it, does that make sense? So I have this ritual that before I speak at an event or before I coach someone - I pray.
Well, I pace and I pray. Hahahahah. I ask for guidance that whatever it is that they are needing to hear at this moment that the words come through. And that counts for words out loud and words on paper! And recently I have had the opportunity to help someone re-write their words that I wanted to share with you.
My husband, Glenn, was a recruit classmate of John Petropoulos for the Calgary Police. They were friends and when John fell through that roof on that break and enter call in south Calgary Glenn was impacted by his loss. Glenn was one of the founding members of the JPMF to help create awareness of safety needs for Emergency Responders and when the JPMF was creating public safety videos they asked Glenn to play the role of John in the fateful scene that took his life. How powerful and scary at the same time. That was 20 years ago! The JPMF is creating an anniversary video and interviewed Glenn recently but Glenn was struggling to put his thoughts into words. So from 10,000km away he called in his “big guns” ;) ... below is where he started and how I helped him.
The question Glenn had to answer in the interview:
Tell me about a favourite memory over the past 20 years with the JPMF
Filming the PSA’s as a team - huge project. Even though it was strange to portray John in the safety video and re-enact the fall... I was honoured to play this part in it ...... not really a favourite memory ??? More of likely the most profound one
How I tweaked:
I'd have to say my favourite memory was also one of the hardest things I've ever done. It was within our biggest endeavour of making the PSAs. I was chosen to play John in the PSA of him falling through the roof. I hate to word it like that, that it was my favourite... But I think it was about the vulnerable connection within that moment. I felt eerily connected to him at that moment. And I'll never forget it. It changed me as a police officer and touched me as a human being.
Wanna know what made rewriting that easier? Knowing my AUDIENCE. When I help coach someone with their story - whether it be a 2-minute speech, business presentation or a keynote - I have to get to know them a little first.
Who are you?
What's important to you?
Why are you even telling this story?
And then we have to know WHO they are telling their story TO. Speaking to a general audience is very different than an audience filled with Veterans, fair? Compare a music concert of 40,000 to an intimate musical session. The same intimacy and relationship can be created between the spoken word and music with the right speaker.
I know Glenn’s history with JPMF. How much Johnny P meant to Glenn - and being the JPMF Public Educator for 6 years I watched that video over and over… and it wasn't John I saw fall through that ceiling. It was my own husband so I know how vulnerable that moment was. What I find is that people also just want us to be real… be authentic… that's why I called my company Authenticity Speaks.
So… where should we start with your story? What is that song inside you that longs to be heard? Can someone else out there be saved by your words? Would 2 minutes of letters strung together be enough to lift your spirit? Then let's get writing…