It’s great to have my new TEDx talk live on YouTube!As a poet, speaker and consultant, this was an important goal of mine and I’m delighted that I got to work with the great group at Centennial Women in Atlanta. It’s got me thinking about a few things that are important which I wanted to share today, and the story of how this talk came to be.
Last year, I spoke to a large group at the Four Seasons when I was honored as a finalist for the Woman Business Owner of the Year. Afterwards, a delighted TEDx curator approached me and said, “you need a bigger audience!” and I thought, it’s true . . . I do need a bigger audience! Fast forward a couple of months, and I had nervously prepared for my audition to join a local TEDx event whose theme, Dive In, seemed perfect for me!
On the day of the audition, I was terrible. There’s just no other way to say it: I was off, out of my body, nervous, sort of cranky, and I was mystified by this—what was wrong with me? I’ve spoken to hundreds of audiences and thousands of people. I’ve been on videos and I’m pretty good on camera, but this time, I was just off. I wasn’t asked back, and though I was terribly disappointed, I wasn’t surprised.
Prior to my audition, my head was full of questions like what will be marketable? what might show off my business expertise? what do leaders need? And these questions are not, in and of themselves, bad questions for an entrepreneur or businessperson to ask, but they were not what I really wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about how visionary leaders must say the unsayable, notice what others do not notice, and speak in their own voices—all things that are part of the poetic experience and the poetic paradigm. I was afraid that my ideas would be seen superfluous, and I would be rejected, dismissed, which is often what innovative, visionary people think when they have something to say that seems out of the ordinary. It’s also often what artists think when they get ready to put their art out into the world.
If you’re in a leadership role, whether it’s a business owner, a manager, the CEO of a company or the director of a non-profit, your organization needs you to say the unsayable, notice what others do not notice, and speak in your own voice. That’s the bottom line, actually, and if you do not own this, or taking responsibility for it, then you’re not living up to your full and true potential, and likely, you have some inkling of this.
When I was invited to join the speakers in Atlanta, I still wondered if I should stick with the “tried and true,” but not for long. How can I ask you to risk yourselves, court your creative edge, and dive into the unknown if I’m not willing to do it myself? Even recently, I heard through the grapevine that a former client wondered, “what is Libby doing? What is this poetry stuff? She needs to get back to leadership—something we can know and trust!” His words stung, and I realized that I need to take ownership for the work I’m doing that is evolving and growing now: that after ten years in business as a trusted advisor, consultant, coach and speaker, I know the things that are holding you back. I know the reasons your companies, teams and relationships are not as creative, innovative and exciting as they could be—and that’s why you want a poet to help you clearly articulate your vivid vision, your compelling strategy, your high-impact message. That’s why you need to own it, yourself, and navigate this big sea of ambiguity that is organizational life to be more extraordinary than you’ve ever been.