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image of motivational speaker on Catching Fireworks blog about openness

It's not the style that motivates me, 
as much as an attitude of openness that I have when I go into a project.

Herbie Hancock

Openness is a valuable attitude to have in any area of one's life, personal and professional.  It is that quality of always being willing to consider new / different experiences, ideas and ways of looking at things.  It often entails stepping out of your comfort zone, leading to all kinds of delights.  It can also be a bit risky and indeed part of the openness has to be to it going "wrong", but even that can be a contribution to growth and learning.    

Being open doesn't mean you automatically say "yes" to every new experience, although that could be a fun thing to try for a day.  However, it does mean that if you do decide to say "no", at least it is coming from having given the invitation proper consideration.  It is not just a knee jerk reaction coming out of fear or a "that's not how I usually do it" frame of mind.  And you never know where new experiences might lead.

I was thinking about this on Monday.  I was part of a team of freelancers from the KindredHQ co-working group which delivered an afternoon of workshops as part of the Artsmart programme.  I kicked off proceedings with a talk about Vision.  When I was approached to do it a couple of months ago I said okay and on Monday, I really enjoyed the experience.  

Two years ago, I was approached by another group to do a talk on the same subject.  My very first reaction was to say no.  Why?  Because like Sheldon Cooper and an awful lot of other people, I didn't like speaking in front of "any group big enough to trample me to death".  I had all those fears everyone has - why should anyone listen to me; what if I forget what to say; what if they think I am boring...yadda, yadda, yadda.  But I also knew in the back of my mind that this kind of public talk was a good thing for passing on information and ideas.  So, under the cover of asking for more details, I gave myself time to screw up my courage and then said okay.

You know what?  My first talk bombed.  Absolutely.  Completely.  Utterly.  I have never been asked back.  The most entertaining part was watching tumbleweeds roll across the room during the awkward silences.  I came home having decided that I would never do a talk again.  Oh, but.... I had already said yes to doing the same talk a week later and short of feigning illness or losing my voice, I had to deliver.  

I could have made myself sick with worry by lingering on the bad experience.  And I am not too proud to admit that I did have a morning of indulgent, “woe is me”, misery.  Then I realised that both for my sake and that of my audience, I had to open my mind to the possibility that the next talk would be a fabulous experience.  I spent a day going through every aspect of the talk, tightening it up and making it flow better.  Then I spent time every day practising it.  Then I delivered it in front of a real audience.  And you know what?  We all had a ball!  

Since then I have done talks and webinars and although I still get nervous before I start, through doing them, I have met some wonderful people, had great feedback and been offered lots of other great opportunities.

So, where will being open lead you today?

If this has struck a chord with you and you want to find out if coaching will support you, check out how we could work together and get in touch.

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