Today I want to share a personal breakthrough I recently made. As long as I can remember myself I had this self-imposed expectation of doing my best at everything my hands touched. This also translated to all the people that came into my life or even walked close to it. Being a firm believer that everyone comes into our life for a reason, regardless of whether they are there to stay forever or only temporarily, my philosophy has been to leave each person better off than before they met me. Once in a while I may have taken this quite literally too.
It could be a pretty demanding task to go out of your way for every single person in your life. But I did not get tired of it because it didn’t always have to be an earth-shattering life-altering thing you do – sometimes you can touch another human’s life in a small yet meaningful way. Mostly it worked well and was a rewarding experience, some other times my best efforts would lead nowhere. As frustrating as that could be, I kept operating in this mode for years, being unaware of my blind spot. Until I recently discovered an inherent flaw with my system.
The realization came from an unexpected place, through an idea I learned on Public Speaking. Have you ever had someone say to you “Speak to your Light?” This means that you don’t have to worry about pleasing every single member of the audience when you are speaking publicly. Instead, find your light and speak to it. The light will come in a form of a particularly interested face of an engaged audience member who stands out of the crowd by being there for you throughout your whole speech with all of its ups and downs. This face will remain lit up the entire time, will laugh in all of the right places and will be a source of encouragement when you need it most.
There is no way to miss your light. You will recognize it in a crowd of any size. Any time you feel nervous, or afraid to lose your train of thought – look at your light and speak to it. This will allow you to build courage if you started off nervously, will help you to remain focused and capitalize on your natural strengths. The key is to keep your energy in the right place instead of stretching it thin trying to make the entire crowd happy. The worst mistake to make though is messing an otherwise great speech because of one fidgety or flat out disinterested person in the crowd.
When I learned of this concept it reminded me of my own past experience of speaking at an event with no preparation. Standing in front of the audience with the microphone in my hand I started speaking but without clearly knowing where exactly my speech was headed. I was feeling somewhat scared and nervous when my eyes caught these two ladies – as I learned later, a mother and a daughter – sitting in the front raw, right in front of me. Their continually lit faces and unfaltering enthusiasm gave me the courage to go on, to open up, to be my true self, and to finally look up and see more and more engaged faces looking back at me.
Why is “speaking to your light” so important even outside of the realm of public speaking?
Just like in public speaking there will always be people in your personal or business life who won’t be interested in what you have to say, might fail to understand your message or simply be closed for any kind of help or constructive feedback. Some may be not ready for what you have to offer, some may even never become ready. And that is all fine.
Same as a good speaker can potentially mess up a well thought through presentation by trying to capture the interest of everyone including that fidgety disengaged person, it’s true with other situations in life as well. Your best intention to touch every single person who comes your way by enlightening them, encouraging them to improve their status quo or helping them otherwise – may lead to nothing special or good. It won’t help those who don’t want to help themselves and will only waste your energy and the efforts that you could have otherwise put towards something more productive and effective.
“People inspire you, or they drain you – pick them wisely,” said Hans F. Hansen. Picking wisely is what will make the difference between enjoying mutually inspiring relationships and staying focused on the energy-draining ones. I may have convinced myself at some point I had to leave everyone better off than before they met me. The breakthrough now is to realize that some people are better off staying exactly where they are at. My message to myself and to anyone who might need it is to speak to your “light” both literally and figuratively and believe that everything else will fall in its right place.