Its 2:00 PM on Tuesday, July 17 and in a nano-second the talk title that I’m to give in 24 hours is finally revealed to me, “Books and Publicity as Tools for Personal and Global Transformation.” (Usually books are my main thing, but since I was speaking at Steve Harrison’s Publicity Workshop, I felt it was important to include Publicity too.)
At the VIP dinner at 7:00 PM that evening, I shared the title with Steve and he gave it two thumbs up. Yay!
I return to my room at 10:00 PM ready to go to sleep when in the back of my mind I know I should be working on my talk. I muster up the energy to jot down a few notes in my spiral-bound notebook before slipping into a much needed slumber. I knew I’d be up early enough to work on the talk in the morning so I’d be plenty prepared by 2:00 the next afternoon.
I awoke without an alarm at 6:00 AM… it’s such a joy to wake up before the alarm clock! I lounged for a while before beginning my morning meditation practice because I had plenty of time to meditate and work on my talk – and still make the morning session on time.
But a funny thing happened while I was meditating. I got a crystal clear message that I wasn’t supposed to prepare for the talk. That I was supposed to walk up on stage without any notes, no set outline, and no idea of what my opening line would be.
I was feeling so peaceful and trusting during the meditation that I said “yes” to this message and made the commitment to not prepare for the talk. Instead I would practice what it’s like to simply be totally present as an open channel for whatever I’m supposed to say in each moment.
I only prepared one thing. I printed up lyrics to a song by my friend Bob Sima titled “Don’t Die With Your Music.” After hearing about the loss of author Stephen Covey, the message of this song seemed apropos for the group. I didn’t know if I’d just hand out the lyrics, or if we’d sing it together, or dance around the room to it. I just knew I needed to have the lyrics ready. That was my preparation.
Throughout the day, my gremlins kept playing with me. Saying things like, “Go write down some notes. Who do you think you are to walk up on stage unprepared. You don’t want to let Steve down after he trusted you to speak on his stage. You always have at least a few bullet points. You have so much you want to say, how will you ever fit it into 45 minutes. You’ve got to prepare!”
I felt the moment of “oh my goodness, you’re right… I must be crazy.” Followed by a quiet resolve – that I could trust what felt crystal clear in my meditation. My quiet resolved eventually calmed the gremlins down.
So, I took care of the logistics of having my iPod ready with Bob’s song if I chose to play it, having lyric copies ready to hand out if that happened, placing a card on the stage that a client just gave me in case I wanted to read a quote from it, putting my books on stage and a press release I had written related to the Steven Covey news in case I referenced them, and at the last minute packing 3 chiffon scarves in my back pocket in case I ended up juggling them on stage.
I didn’t know if I’d use any of these “props,” but I knew that I’d want them if the right moment struck.
As the sound guy hooked up my microphone, I made one final prayer that I use the microphone to transform lives through my presence – and the still unrevealed words that would come out of my mouth.
So, there I am being welcomed to the stage with a wonderful standing ovation – with no idea what I’m going to say – only clarity that I want to inspired and transform the audience.
45 minutes later after juggling, crying, reading the quote, singing, dancing, laughing, and transmitting an energy that many told me afterwards truly landed in their hearts… I closed my talk with “Namaste.”
Then, I was overwhelmed by the audience’s enthusiastic and prompt standing ovation… hootin’ and hollerin’ and all. I stood on stage and opened my arms out to them because they just kept clapping and hootin’ and I wanted to receive it all. They had been moved, and I was too.
Moved that I could have that impact, without preparing words on a page.
My heart was prepared. My soul was prepared. My channel was prepared to be a vehicle for grace. My words were guided by the source that sustains all life. The truth is I had been preparing for that talk my entire life.
As the applause quieted I looked up and extended my thanks to the Divine… for the perfection of the moment and for giving me the clear sign it was time for me to TRUST that truly all I needed to do was show up and be fully present in that room. Lesson learned, and I’m looking forward to the next time I get to do that again!
This is what presence looked like to me on Wednesday afternoon. May you, too, experience the power of your own presence today, and every day.