Last Spring, I was invited to share my story at the Music Cities Forum held in Vancouver BC as part of Juno Week. As the room began to fill with music festival programmers, creative economy leaders, and political representatives, I realized I was as far away from my comfort zone as I could be while still remaining on the same planet.
Internally, I was a nervous wreck by the time it was my turn to present from the podium. There was an incessant voice in my head telling me (with a Monty Python accent) to “Run away!” and I almost walked right off the edge of the stage because I was so freaked out about being up there.
I had rehearsed my presentation on the plane trip, and in the hotel, and in my head. I had it down cold. Of course, when I got started I immediately went off-script.
I confessed to the packed room that I felt like a pretender – like someone who had no business being in the company of so many amazing music industry leaders. I told them that I expected the doors would burst open at any moment and someone would point in my direction and yell, “There he is! Get him off the stage!”
There was laughter, nods and knowing smiles.
In that moment I knew while I was well outside my comfort zone, I was still in the company of people who were willing to accept me in their midst, to listen to my story, and to offer ideas designed to help improve the SHCN project.
The voice in my head faded away and was replaced by the buzz of a positive adrenaline rush. My time on stage seemed to fly by and afterwards, at a cocktail reception, several people came over to tell me how much they enjoyed my presentation. More importantly, each of them said they loved knowing they weren’t the only ones in the room who felt like imposters or pretenders.
It’s funny how we are so quick to doubt our own abilities when we step out into the unknown. My experience taught me to cut myself a little slack and allow for the space and time required to grow as a person. I still feel a bit like a pretender however now I recognize I can use that feeling of trepidation as a motivator to learn more, execute better, and to never stop exploring the edges of my comfort zone.
Thanks for your consideration. Be well. Practice big medicine.*
Drop me a line via email – firstname.lastname@example.org
*Big Medicine = the right people working together at the right time will be Big Medicine. I’ve been saying ‘Be well. Practice big medicine’ for as long as I can remember. It is my own very personal version of ‘Sawu Bona’, the Zulu greeting which means ‘I see you’… I see all of you, I see your good works, I see the difference you are making in the world.