“You just have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” he said and wandered off to make some strong black tea – the taste for which is something else I have inherited. I stood there for a moment and thought about those words. I needed him to explain further. There had to be more to it than that. Following him into the kitchen I asked for clarification. He thought for a moment and then said, “Well, Lord knows I know it is not easy to stand up in front of people and deliver a message in a meaningful way. I find it hard to hold the audience’s attention and make them want to hear what I have to say. Whatever the situation, it is a responsibility, and it is nerve-racking. So it would be strange NOT to feel at least a little anxious. The appropriate reaction is to feel nervous. So just embrace it, recognize it, give yourself a moment and then brace yourself and get on with it. Ultimately all you can do is to make sure you are well-prepared, and then just do the best you can. Usually, it goes at least OK, and if not, learn from it, pick yourself up and do it better next time.” At the time his advice did not really make a whole lot of sense to me – not least because I really did not believe that he got nervous when he spoke! Now, years later, I recognize his advice as a combination of permission to be human and using strengths to accomplish more than we think we can. By recognizing we are worried about something like a presentation and acknowledging that it is natural and normal to feel that way, we give ourselves permission to have that unpleasant sensation without harsh self-judgment. Then, by using prudence, perseverance and maybe a little love of learning we can be well-prepared. By using honesty, judgment, and humility we can be authentic, and with a healthy dash of humor to lighten the delivery, and bravery to be nervous and do it anyway, we can move ahead and stand in front of the audience and put our message across. And if it doesn’t go well? Well, then we forgive ourselves, adopt a growth mindset, and learn from what we experienced to get up and do better next time! Thanks, Dad!
Richard Terence Kelly 07/19/1930- 09/10/2000, was an industrial chemist and worked for most of his career at the Greater London Council Scientific Department working on such exciting things as procedures for handling hazardous materials, testing of concrete structures for safety, resilient but safe playground surfaces, and fire retardant materials. He was a caring leader, he was curious, loved to learn (he taught himself five languages), he was analytical, humorous and, above all, fair. He loved people even though he was an introvert – although it has taken me a lifetime to recognize that that last fact was true. He really WAS an introvert!
Originally published at alle4you.com