Forgetting and Reaching

Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal...
— Apostle Paul
microphone-audience.jpg

Three weeks ago today, I walked out in front of a small crowd of businessmen and women at  Biotech Place in Winston-Salem. Not quite as prepared as I wished, still I felt confident that the three big ideas we were about to explore would challenge the way they viewed culture management and offer a high-value takeaway. An expectant hush. I scanned their faces in that pregnant pause before any words fell. Felt the nervous excitement, wondering if the magic would happen. About 50 minutes later I walked off the stage to heartfelt applause, quietly exultant. It had happened. The connection was there, the engagement, the impact. As a speaker, you know instinctively when it happens, and you know when it doesn't.
 
On the drive home that day, my mind drifted back a year and a half to my biggest speaking event to date. Traveling across the country, I had been invited to address a university crowd of about a thousand. And on top of the crowd size, for probably the first time my topic was a controversial one. In short, I was intimidated. Although well prepared in content, my delivery was stiff and somewhat defensive. Not an outright flop, but far from a success. The magic did not appear...and I was deeply discouraged.
 
For some time I wondered whether I was even supposed to be a speaker. I'd never intentionally set out to be one; instead, I had discovered that when you write a book, people just assume that you speak...and so I had begun saying yes to the invitations despite a long-standing performance fear of being in front of people. Funny how these things happen.
 
Last week I was reading the wise words above--forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. Every one of us faces that precise challenge in some facet of our lives today. A choice to allow past failures to define our future...OR to embrace the essential learning that failure always offers us and then build on that learning for what lies ahead. What is that opportunity for you right now? What have said "never again" to that is supposed to be part of your future?
 
Dare you reach again? You can.

Posted on October 30, 2013 .