The timeline for my own celebration, “Painted”, my event for celebrating my business, my clients and friends, included me speaking from stage. With a mic. Probably in some lights. By myself. On stage. Did I mention I would be on stage? Alone?
I had what felt like strokes of genius (thankfully!) weeks before the event, and I would jot down things that I thought I might say, record voice to text notes on my phone, knowing it would all become a little more clear what I wanted to say the more I milled it all over in my head and got some things in writing. Panicking as the date got closer, I was not 1000% clear on what my point would be during that spoken presentation, I rolled a bunch of stuff over and over in my head, I’d go to bed thinking about it, I’d google artist talks, I’d wake up in the middle of the night. What did my clients come expecting to hear?
One thought that finally hit me was…. This wasn’t about me.
Oh that felt good. It pointed the attention from me back to those that would be in attendance at my party. And it’s so the truth! Without every actual body that was on that invite list doing what they’ve done for me in business — sharing with their friends, providing reviews on social media, posting and tagging me in action, it was so clear that this really wasn’t about me. My clients have been responsible for my business growing and working, for me to make a living as an artist. I settled on this truth and knew this had to be the theme of what I’d speak about.
As the days flew by leading up to my event, I was taking on more hands-on creative projects that were not necessary, but in my head, they added so much to the overall look and feel of my event. This was my event, I wanted my visual voice to come through and for my guests to feel special.
By the time the week of the event got here I’d accumulated literal piles of handwritten and digital notes… lots of great thoughts it seemed, but still so scattered and everywhere. I really wanted to condense it all into at least bullet points on index cards, knowing I would at least have that to refer to if my nerves completely paralyzed me on that stage. I wanted my gratitude to come through to my guests. This whole thing was such a big deal to me.
Those index cards full of words I wanted to use? They never happened. Those hands-on projects came together beautifully. But I had nothing to accompany me on stage. What was I thinking….
The day arrived, the event was underway, it looked amazing, guests were arriving and mingling and ooh-ing and ahhh-ing over the many details in place for them. And after a bit, it was time to transition into the next part of the party, my presentation.
My knees got weak and my neck got hot, and I wondered how it would go, I wondered if I’d maybe have time to at least run into the bathroom and skim over my phone notes, hoping the words would somehow come together.
I just had to do it, my guests were gonna get restless and leave. Ok. Deep breath. I took the mic. I walked onto the stage. I remained upright. (!!)
I have no idea what I said at first, my voice was a little quivery – the moment started to take me over and I felt some emotion rising up in me. I caught myself starting to huff and puff the way you do when you are talking too fast and nervous and forgetting to breathe. And I remember saying out loud maybe after just a minute or so on stage, “breathe”. And I stopped for just a second, I took in that moment, looking at my people. I could have melted into a puddle of tears feeling that gratitude.
Then somehow, I continued on.
I spoke from my heart, some bits and pieces I remembered from writing down my thoughts, but some things just simply spilled out. I was aware that my voice wasn’t shakey. I was making eye contact. My guests were engaged. This wasn’t terrible. I don’t fully remember everything I said. But I heard it came across genuine. And I heard I sounded grateful and humble. I heard someone leaned over to my mom and said my Dad would’ve been proud. Compliments that leave me speechless.
This theme, “it’s not about me”, has surfaced since then in a couple of podcasts I’ve stumbled across (and now I wish I could find them again!!) and in Brian Dixon’s book, “Start With Your People,” and in a couple of conversations with some fellow entrepreneurs. I credit so many with the success my business has experienced. And to recognize that now, it’s feeling like this theme may be to blame for the direction things continue to go. It’s feeling pretty huge.
To answer that question, “What the heck was I thinking?”… I guess I was thinking how much I wanted my people to know how so so very much I appreciated them. And things fell into place from there. I’m so excited to be here and in this place.