Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to do a TEDx talk – to be able to share an “idea worth spreading.” My talk was on Deconstructing Biases, Building Bridges, Not Barriers, and while talking about biases is not new and the acceptance of looking at them is becoming more mainstream, the approach I take asks everyone to take individual responsibility to look deeply and sort through the beliefs that hold others and themselves back.
To begin with, I have immense gratitude for the opportunity, and for Dafna Michaelson Jenet, Christy Belz and Michael Jenet for the tireless work, passion and commitment they put into TEDx Crestmoor Park Women, now in its 8th year. Appreciation and thankfulness are inadequate words for the friends and family and all audience members and volunteers who participated and who helped make the event a success.
Next, I absolutely love the work that I do. I get to work with individuals and organizations everyday to assist them with being the best they can be at what they do, and what they strive to accomplish. It is a partnership that includes looking at desired goals, current successes and current challenges, as well as beliefs and behaviors that get in the way of reaching the intended outcomes. Please join me as I share what I learned and experienced as a part of the process of realizing a goal and dream I had held.
I had put doing a TED Talk on my vision board two years ago, not knowing at the time how that would happen or what I would do when it did. If you are not familiar with vision boards, they are basically bucket lists, which consist of your dreams, goals, activities, whatever you want to do or experience.
When the time came, and I was encouraged to apply to be a speaker, I was very excited and motivated and put my creative juices to work to narrow down the message I wanted to pitch. It boiled down to the responsibility of every person committing to look at their biases (which are predetermined beliefs, positive or negative; conscious or unconscious) and to examine the impact that the beliefs have on others, themselves, organizations and communities.
One Monday evening in August, I received notice that I had been accepted and I literally jumped for joy. That night, I woke up about 2:00 AM and heard myself say, “OMG, now what – can I do this?” It really was not a question as I have been speaking to groups and audiences for years, but I experienced the feelings of fear and daunting responsibility to make it happen and do a good job. I used my F.E.A.R.© acronym at that early hour of the morning to keep me on track for my purpose. The process for the acronym is outlined in my talk, which will be available within 30 days – stay tuned. How it helped me in the middle of the night, was that I sorted out the feelings that whispered, “take flight” (meaning “fearful” flight, as in “run away”). Knowing full well, if I did not get beyond my fear, I would have “excluded” myself from the process, which would have “avoided” the opportunity to participate and to help spread a message. And, all of this was happening in a split second because of an automatic “reaction” that was being fed by a sense of vulnerability and a temporary lack of confidence.
Thus, I chose to move forward and be all in. So many incredible experiences continued from making that decision. I had the opportunity to:
- Connect more deeply with my purpose, values and passion;
- Learn from the producers and improve on my message and my presentation abilities;
- Ask for help;
- Accept the support of family and friends;
- Build my courage and confidence;
- Increase my focus;
- Get out of my comfort zone;
- Be a change agent on a broader scale;
- Meet and get to know 14 other amazing speakers and their commitment to their work and their messages that challenge and inspire;
- Have an incredible and joyous time.
These benefits were not part of what I expected, nor imagined as part of the process. The 10 items listed are gifts I received for taking the leap, facing my own fears and concerns, and having absolute belief in the work of deconstructing biases and the potential outcome of creating change and building bridges.
My call to action to myself is to continue being committed, being bold and active. My call to everyone is to look beyond any fears you have, no matter how they show up, connect to your heart and sort through and analyze the beliefs/biases you hold and the impact they cause. At the very least, commit to mitigate their impact and hopefully create real change. When it all boils down to it, Awareness is the first step, but Awareness alone does not create change – Actions do!
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Ghandi