Nights of surprises

I was instantly awake without opening my eyes.  Somehow I had sensed something gone wrong beside me as my eyelids popped open, even as my mind wanted to keep them tightly closed.  You see if my eyes remained closed then whatever it was that had jolted me awake with such a sense of dread would not roar into my life unwanted.  Those were the fragments of thought that ripped me from my comfortable sleep.

Greg was sitting half upright, groaning at 3:30 a.m. and efficiency overtook my terror.  When a man in the second century of his life is behaving that way in the middle of the night, one's first thought was heart attack.  My ticker was certainly going at full speed as I asked him if he was okay; knowing full-well that he was not okay.  But I had nothing other than my presumptive fears to go on until he was able to respond.

While my heart was doing the equivalent of a full cardiac workout and my brain was trying to remember where the phone was, he said he was okay.  He was having a leg cramp.  Suddenly my fear and concern turned into almost a mad-on.  There was that little fissure in my emotional fibre between the "I love you so much don't you dare die of a heart attack in the middle of the night" to the "You scared the s**t out of me, I'm done being compassionate".

We pass over that fissure between extreme emotions every now and then, especially when the situation we find ourselves in triggers fear.  But last week I faced a big fear of my own when I spoke at the event called DisruptHR.  For years I have struggled with a memory problem while giving presentations or being in situations that demanded I have good recall.  It all started over forty years ago with a piano teacher who belittled me when I failed to successfully memorize a piece of music within her timeframe and her methodology.  Ever since I have been unable to play music from memory and have had multiple situations where my firm grasp of facts or data have suddenly eluded me when I needed them most.  Most people don't realize that I have that issue because I have learned to cope with it and compensate for it.  But it has always dogged me.

When I bought the licensing for DisruptHR Edmonton, I was determined to get that monkey off my back once and for all.  I was going to speak in a situation that was high stakes, fast paced, no notes allowed, and it was going to be videotaped.  Well, it happened.  I did it.  I did it in a scenario where the timing on my own slides was off and at one point my slides were advanced backward instead of forward.  It was like the ultimate litmus test and I couldn't have been happier with the results.  My talk won't meet the DisruptHR criteria because it failed the auto-advance litmus test. But a human did their best to keep us on track with the 15 second rule.  I had to wing-it a little to roll with the disruption of the slides going wild.  But somehow I managed to do a presentation that was okay, I didn't freeze and totally forget my material.  I had to leave some of the really salient pieces out or skinny them back, but we got through.  I wasn't reduced to a puddle of human.  The fear was conquered last Tuesday night and that old piano teacher's unkind words were buried once and for all.

I leave you with a quote from Seth Godin, "Dance with fear."  For when you dance with something you face it, you draw it close and you can invite it into the ring.  Once you are in the ring, you can wheal on it and win once and for all.  Dance with your fear then disrupt it permanently!

"Dance with fear." 
Seth Godin