I learned a profound lesson from an experience some years ago. I had been asked to give a presentation at a professional conference. Public speaking was nothing new for me having grown up in the L.D.S. Church and being involved in other organizations. I am rarely rattled by the thought of speaking in front of a group. I had prepared well for this particular presentation, but as the time approached, I found myself getting stressed. I began to notice the self-talk running through my mind – “What should I wear? I want to look professional, but not too much.” “I gesture too much with my hands.” “I hate the sound of my voice.” “I get talking too fast when I feel I am running out of time” (the one thing I do generally stress about is not having enough time – I always seem to have more material than time).
As all this was running around and around in my mind, another thought came and stopped me cold – “It’s not about you, Karen”. All of my worries centered around how I would be perceived by others – what they would think of me. I had to remind myself that it really was about my message. I knew the message I wanted to present and my presentation was well prepared and organized enough. Wasn’t the message what I wanted my audience to take away that day?
Somehow, we humans love praise. I have to admit I do like hearing “Good job” “I really enjoyed that” “That was great”. I think the problem comes when that becomes our focus – what we seek most. “The praise of men” (John 12:43) or “The honor of the world”. Continue reading