“Life’s up and downs provide windows of opportunity to determine your values and goals. Think of using obstacles as stepping stones to build the life you want” – Marsha Sinetar
I was booked in to do a speaking gig to present at a support group for 20 or so members recently. I prepared my presentation in fine detail and organised my list of all the things to bring on the night. I picked out what I was going to wear and visualised it in my mind a few times. A few days before the event, I noticed that my chest felt heavy and my voice was starting to get huskier. Oops..what I hadn’t prepared for was for my voice not to be up to scratch. Nope, I didn’t prepare for that. Within the next day, I had a bad case of laryngitis. I did what I could to get it better before the event. I drank tea with honey and lemon, took lozenges, stopped speaking and whatever else I could think of doing to help get some voice back.
It didn’t get better. By the day of the presentation, there was very little voice. I could hardly speak and it was hard to be heard. Now what?
I could have easily called in sick for this event as I was not the only presenter for the evening. I was confident that the members would have been understanding of my circumstances and it would have been fine for me not to go. So I pondered, do I go or do I exit? Do I take the harder or the easy option? Do I push through and see if I can get it over the line? Or do I save myself the embarrassment of being a presenter with no voice?
As I was tossing all of the questions and answers in my head, it occurred to me the difference in my thinking and how you think differently now as a business owner. As a business owner and representing myself, if I didn’t go, what would that say about me and my integrity? If I did go and present with the challenge of no voice and not being heard, could that damage my intentions of my presentation and ultimately spoil representing myself and my business in a positive light?
As an employee, I may have had the same questions, but ultimately I would be representing someone else’s company, not my own. When working as an employee, if I was not fit for duty, I didn’t have to show up. As a business owner, if I am not fit for duty, I still show up.
So, I went on and did my presentation with my small ounce of voice that I had. I knew it would be a challenge, but I felt this was the only option and I had to do it. I pushed through and projected strongly what little voice I had in there. I just managed to get through it. Was it the best presentation I had ever done? No, it wasn’t up there. Having the voice fluctuating throughout the presentation was distracting and nerve racking. There was definitely room for improvement. It went as well as I could have hoped for.
I reflected on this the following day and although somewhat disappointed knowing that I could have done better, I was still proud. I was proud that I had made the decision to go ahead and stand strong in my integrity, which is one of my highest values. I delivered what I said I would deliver. I presented what I said I would present. I didn’t use a good excuse not to do what I had agreed to do and I did not exit. I didn’t allow it to get in the way of who I am and how I want to be. I was proud that I stepped up into the arena and let the challenge be the spectator.
When you live by your values, regardless of challenges, you will feel better about yourself. When you live congruently within your values, your life moves towards flow and happiness. When you go against your values, there is conflict and confusion within yourself and it moves you away from flow. Even though my outcome could have been better, the fact that I backed myself with who I am and what I valued most, brought me to a greater sense of achievement and pride than I had expected.
Being fit for work can have its conflicts. I probably wasn’t physically fit for presenting, but in my heart I was the fittest and strongest I could be to do what I had to do. My integrity and reputation meant more to me than resting my vocals. Having a problem with my vocals opened the door to making the decision to live by my values and keep building the business and life I want.