Hello there, my dear MCF-ers!
I hope your weeks have started off positively? Mine sure has, so much so, that even though I promised to blog for 5 days straight, I haven’t posted any new material since Friday, July 14! Imagine! I am really sorry guys 🙁 But I promise, if you stick with me, I will get better. Lol! Quite a lot has happened that I want to talk about, so I will share several of these events with you guys in this post.
ON…..LIFE AND LIVING
Remember I mentioned in a prior post that I had been fortunate enough to sit on a panel with some young and intelligent co-panelists, speaking to Nigerian scholars on career switching last week Thursday? This was such a huge personal deal for me. A “Leaping Moment”. It was one of my proudest achievements till date.
You see, I am a chatterbox……when I am with people I know. However, outside of my comfort zone, I am the shyest person in the world. Of that, I am most certain! It does not matter how much knowledge I have on a subject matter; once you set me in front of an audience, I freeze. But I have always felt a strong calling to mentor the next generation. I am aware that a large part of who I am today was formed by the useful conversations, words of advice, seminars and conferences that I had been a part of or attended in my life.
The weirdest thing is that some of the people who have significantly influenced my life are completely unaware that their words (most times spoke to a room full of students or employees) had the impact that they did. So, when a friend approached me to speak on this panel, I jumped at it, in spite of my fears. Never in a million years was I going to miss this opportunity! However, this meant stepping out of my comfort zone…
I have always felt held back and constrained by my fear of public speaking. In recent years though, I have made some progress in overcoming this challenge:
1) Practice makes perfect – Before any work meeting/presentation, I have learnt to practice. At home, in my room, in front of the bathroom mirror, and even with my 3 year old son. Lmao. My son looks at me sometimes and says, “Mama, what are you saying?” “Are you talking to me, mama?” Lol. But yes oh! This works for me. It helps to remind me that I actually know a bit about the subject matter, which then boosts my confidence. I also learn how to phrase my thoughts in a concise manner, and to better transition from one slide/topic to the other.
2) Open your mouth – “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” right? No matter how hard I prepare or practice ahead of a meeting, if I do not part my lips, all my preparation would have been futile. So, I try to speak up when I feel that I have meaningful contributions to make. This way, I have gotten used to speaking in meetings and having the attention of the room focused on me.
3) Ask for honest feedback – This is critical. My fear of public speaking is not something I hide. Once I am done with a presentation, I ask those around me for feedback. I am (of course) always nervous to hear the answer, but I ask anyway. The feedback is usually that I have a rough start, but once I settle into the flow of the conversation, my delivery improves.
So, the day of the panel discussion, I had a dry run with my boss in the office. He asked me questions relating to the panel topic, and afterwards, I got his feedback. From the dry run, I realised that even though I had all that I wanted to say in my head, I still needed a little bit of work on making my contributions succinct.
Anyway, to cut the story short, I was quite pleased with my performance on the panel. I did not feel too nervous going in. As the conversation progressed, I got more comfortable with my delivery. The feedback I received since then has been so good, that I have started joking that I have found my calling – being a motivational speaker. Lol. Hearing the positive feedback just filled me with so much hope, encouragement and satisfaction. I know the journey that I have taken to becoming this version of myself, and I have indeed come a long way.
I have always been big on making an impact. I remember speaking to my current Oga at the Top during my final stage interview, and I asked him to what his proudest moment in his career was. His response blew me away, and I knew that day that working in his firm would provide at least a few opportunities to make an impact. When I was younger, I thought that I needed a grand ol’ stage from which to make an impact. But age and wisdom have made me realise that impact begins in my community, in my immediate surroundings.
Last week, my youngest sibling graduated from university. When my sister called to congratulate him, he told her that he was grateful that he had had me and her as older siblings to look up to. He said that having us go ahead of him and get good grades in school made him realise that he too could be better, do better, aspire to better. Even when things got tough for him, unknown to us, we were his source of motivation. I was so moved, I wanted to cry. You know me na 🙂
So, my learning is this: Maybe one day, the stage will be set for me to make a big impact. But honestly, I felt so content and happy that day, and even today as I write this. THAT was my impact! THAT was my influence! I know that my brother will go on to do big and mighty things, and I am just happy that he counts me as being a part of his story.
So the theme for my life currently is Leaping with Grace. It has to be, right? That is all I seem to do these days. Lol. Today, I was called upon to make a presentation to the Board Finance Committee of a leading multinational company in Nigeria. When I saw all the industry heavy-weights on the Board, God knows I tried to chicken out of this one “severally” (as my Naija ppl say), but my bosses were not having it.
So, praying for grace and favour, I made the presentation, with my team mates providing input along the way. Again, the reviews were good. How have I become this person that can now speak at Board meetings? Stepping out of my comfort zone this often?
Today also, I found the courage to tell more people about this blog. I was so nervous about what people would think about the blog, but I did it anyway. God has just given me some new Grace for Leaping. I thank God!
WRAPPING IT ALL UP
Anyhoo, its almost 1 am here now. I should get a few winks before I have to start the new day.
Update: We bought our tickets today – one way tickets to Ottawa on Royal Air Maroc. It is a 31 hour journey, so I am excited for, and dreading the journey ahead at the same time….but more excitement than dread. Next on our list of TO DO’s is to finalise house hunting. Ottawa, here we come!!!
Till my next post….
Leaping with Grace,