Unexpected Standing Ovation

I’ve been at a loss for words the last few days. Monday I gave a talk about my book at the Leadership Illinois Conference.

I was coming off of a very busy weekend having flown back to the midwest from southern California the afternoon before. Plus, shortly after the speech I was informed the new Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker had requested my workplace participate in a news conference the next morning in preparation for rock bottom temperatures related to this 2019 ultra freeze snap. It was a request that directly involved me.

In the middle of it, I’ve been processing the realization I’m deeply impacted by the way I was embraced at the Leadership Illinois Conference after my hour long talk. I was invited to speak about my book, 9 Word Rethink To Get On With Life.¬†When my talk was over, my best hope was that I would leave people with the belief that we are all in this together, we can impact change, and we are so much more than what happens to us at the hands of others.

I think of it a bit like a message in a bottle. You put the message in having thoughtfully put it on paper. You fold it and carefully put it in a bottle, seal it, toss it into the sea, and hope it reaches another human heart who will take the time to understand.

I remember putting my hand over my heart at the end of my speech as the room full of women began to stand up one by one applauding my effort to tell my raw, real story with a spirit of generosity.

There are moments in life you will never forget and that will be one for me. You hope people will see you in your words and the sharing of your stories. You hope they will see themselves in your experiences and observations. You hope they will be comforted, supported, and feeling stronger knowing they are not the only one. To stand there in that moment felt like slow motion and I will savor it.

My message? Words matter – a lot. I walked through examples, thoughts, reasons why, my own experiences, my professional and personal perspective, what I’ve had to come to terms with as a maturing human being…and I talked about rape.

After that talk, a fellow attendee asked me after how often I’ve talked about these personal topics openly. I said – this was the first time I’d ever spoken about these topics that publicly. Few people ask us about ourselves at the level. This felt like the time to do it.

We can’t want more authenticity and real in the world unless we are willing to give it ourselves. I’ve always known where there is honest conversation – deep powerful meaningful connection can follow. Without it, we can find ourselves with an emptiness we can’t explain. Why are we here if not to connect and help each other learn and grow into more whole human beings.

It’s always been my big picture clarity about life.

To those who criticize and shred others with courage to share the real they’ve known – when will you realize you reveal your own fear of yourself in that criticism? Why are you afraid of your own life experiences is what I want to ask. It’s easy to head talk yourself into a distance from people brave enough to be authentic, but washing your mind in a stew of words to distance only works so long.

Trust who you are. You are worth that.

My next post will share a bit more my thoughts following the event.