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Is it necessary that everyone be good at everything? Isn’t it enough to just be good enough without trying to be a super human being?
As a working professional you are expected to be Superman or Superwoman. “Come on, you can do it!” Your colleagues encourage you as the boss thumps down a profile before you and pushes you on stage, taking for granted that as a young employee, public speaking should come easy to you.
But what if it doesn’t? What if you have had a bad experience as a kid when you suddenly lost your tone & were booed off the stage? What if that has left an indelible mark on you? Shouldn’t you be given time to slowly erase that mark? Shouldn’t you be given the space to heal the wound at your own pace?
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Once you go out into the world you are supposed to ‘deliver’!
My friend Rihana, a young teacher who found herself in just such a situation one day is a case in point. She looked at me beseechingly one morning as she was almost shoved on stage, but I could not bail her out not being a great speaker myself. Luckily at that moment, another teacher happened to come backstage, and as she had a strong stage presence, she didn’t need much convincing to host the programme.
Did that make Rihana a bad teacher? Wasn’t it enough that she could deliver her lessons to her students with clarity and confidence? Didn’t it matter that they loved her and flocked to her classes? Wasn’t she great at her job because she loved and understood them in return?
“We need not shine at everything we do but what we should do is try and overcome our fears.” One of our colleagues opined as we discussed this over a cup of tea in our school canteen. This made a lot of sense to me.
But each person needs his own space and time to overcome his fears. We never know what caused the fear, and how long you need to work on it to erase it.
Once people begin accepting us, and there was no pressure to perform, Rihana and I thrashed out the situation at our own pace. “Let’s start with baby steps.” I said. “Maybe make tiny appearances on stage, and then when we have established a feeling of comfort on the stage, let’s start with small introductions and then go on to bigger ones.”
We put this plan into action and 6 months later, when I was offered a chance to give a speech during the morning assembly, I did not try to dodge, but decided that I would try out the newly developed oratory muscles that I was nurturing.
But I was able to do it because I was the one who chose to, because I decided that I would be bigger than my fears. And because of that, it didn’t matter that my speech had not been so great. It was an ordinary speech given by a nervous speaker. I would never be a great orator. Maybe the Universe had decided that by giving me with the gift of writing it had done it’s duty by me.
But as I got off stage that morning I knew that the next time would be much easier.
I would never be a Martin Luther King or a Mark Anthony, but as I finished that speech that morning I came away with the feeling that if I needed to convey anything to a group of people, I would be able to without being tongue tied. It also gave me the empathy to be easy with my students when they exhibited stage fear and to allow them the time to heal.
And at the end of the day that is all that matters! Let’s not make living a drudge by having to excel in everything we do. What if being human is just super and we need not all be super humans?
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