Last Friday night, I got in the arena, in front of 110 people.
Nicki and I had worked hard over many months to take Empowering Women from a crazy idea to an actual event and on the night, I knew it was my job to pull it off. Nicki had done the mahi behind the scenes, and now it was up to me to make it a stellar night.
I was MC, arguably the toughest gig at any event, because really your job is never done. You can’t just say your piece and then enjoy a vino. You have to show up over and over again, throughout the whole night.
And public speaking is one of my biggest fears.
Back in 1994 I won the Form 1 speech competition. I still remember it. I spoke about battery hen farming and how wrong it is on so many levels. I spoke confidently (probably loudly cos I seem to only have one volume – still do!), and without too much fear, anxiety or nerves.
But that was before I was old enough to doubt myself. It was before I was smart enough to know how strongly opinionated those sitting ring-side could be. And it was before social media gave the sideline dwellers a platform to commentate. Thinking about the critics can paralyse you with fear. But in your youth, you have a degree of ignorance, and I think for me, that ignorance allowed me to get out of my comfort zone more than what I do now as an older, wiser adult.
So the night of our Empowering Women event was a milestone for me.
I was so scared. Right up until the moment before the event began I was regretting putting myself in this position, and really questioning why.
But I did it.
And then, on Sunday, I got in the arena again. Totally different scenario, but still the potential to shine or stumble.
It was a 12km run. Of course it would’ve been easier to be a spectator, watching from the sidelines, but instead I got amongst it. I had trained – as much as you can having 3 boys under 5yrs and owning a business – and I had a goal of 1hr 15mins. And I nailed it. 1hr 13mins.
The pride and sense of achievement I felt after the run, and after the Empowering Women event, had given me a great reminder why I get into the arena. There was no guarantee of a great outcome with either endeavour, but at least I gave them a shot.
You don’t succeed without failing along the way.
You don’t get reward without taking risks.
You’ve got to take a chance.
The easy option is to stand ringside and critique those in the middle, but the real courage, and the real triumph comes from getting in the arena.
So I will continued to choose to dare greatly, as Theodore Roosevelt said.
This quote of his sums it up, and I think its one of the best.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt