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Tripping Over Yourself Masterfully

“If you stumble, make it part of the dance.”

I saw this posted at my daughter’s dance studio and based on a recent experience I had thought “Exactly!”

I gave a presentation to a group who were looking to learn a way to maximize their leadership effectiveness. During the presentation, I sensed that the audience was tired. They were listening, but completely unengaged. I lost my train of thought and in floated my negative chatter about how I was doing. Ever experience that? Ouch is right.

I later became very upset with myself. I berated myself for not having it come out – perfectly. And that’s when I stopped. Literally came to a screaming halt. And listened to what I was telling myself. Really? Am I really going to be that violent to myself? For the sake of what?

So after some alone time, admittedly with chocolate, I started calming down. I asked what I believed about myself. Of course, I’m a professional. Of course, I was prepared. Wildly so. Of course, I know I want the best for this group. And I absolutely know I can deliver it.

What if I can use this stumble and its messages in the next presentation to this group? What if it can be part of my dance with them?

So here’s what I have been doing lately – imperfectly, but aiming in that direction. I share these with you because it has had a profound effect on the way I think about messing up royally. 1. Catch the negative inner chatter. You can’t miss it. It begins to make you feel terrible. 2. Forgive yourself. Most important point here. Again and again. 3. Eat chocolate. Seriously, do something to take care of yourself. Go for a run. Take a bath. Make a delicious meal. Play the piano. Soothe yourself in the healthy way that works for you. (Personally, I consider good chocolate in moderation a healthy choice.) 4. Detach yourself from the moment. Become the observer of the situation. What does it look like from here? What might be needed? 5. Ask what you really want for the relationship. What would you have done differently if you could do it again? How can the relationship best be served going forward?

And so I did. When the group met again, I asked questions about what they understood. Began again. Moved forward. Introduced new material. Held the group with the same care for their growth. And we continued our dance together.

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