The two sides of the stage
Last Friday Hidai & I were invited back to UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, to deliver our Effective LinkedIn workshop for the Global Leadership Programme students. We love this programme and the fact that we have a tiny part in it, and in encouraging and motivating young minds (and yes, I do know how bombastic it sounds, thank you).
The post I was planning to write about it was about the fact that when Dr. Linda Dowling-Hetherington invited us to come back, she moved us from Lecture Hall 1 to Room C201 and caused me a week-long anxiety attack about the fact that they moved us because nobody wanted the workshop, and we'll be lucky if we get 20 students to attend. It turned out they moved us to something that to me felt like Wembley Stadium, because we had twice as many students as last year.
This is the post I told the students I'd write during the session, this is the post I told our Newsletter readers I'd write. But it is not the post I'm writing.
Because 4 hours later we found ourselves sitting on the other side of the stage. We had tickets to Gary Barlow's A Different Stage, which was a very big deal for us because we love Gary (who doesn't, really?), but also because it was the first time Hidai & I were out to a concert together since February 2012. As it turned out, it was an even bigger deal.
It was nothing like we thought it would be when we bought the tickets in April - it was not Gary on stage singing, it was Gary on stage, in a theatre that was not a lot bigger than the one we had that morning, telling his personal story to a bunch of strangers, with all the good, bad and ugly. And there was some singing as well.
It was absolutely amazing.
It takes a lot of courage to stand on that side of the stage, with nothing but your words and personal story, to show the world who you are and hope it accepts you, your way, your choices.
Which is, to some extent (because we are not, by any means, Gary), what we were doing 4 hours earlier at UCD. We talked to the students about our job searches, how we coped with rejections, how difficult we find content writing and exposure, and about our journey and choices.
And it takes a lot of courage to sit on this side of the stage, and feel like a beginner, like you are back at the starting point and you know nothing.
Which is, to some extent, what we are dealing with now both in our business because we are working on a new venture that is out of our comfort zone, and in our personal life as the move to becoming parents to two proper teenage boys sometimes feel like we have to learn how to be parents all over again.
Being able to be on both sides of the stage is at the same time vulnerable and powerful. I struggled with both for years, so to me, both of them take the same amount of maturity, confidence, and self acceptance.
All of which come from age, falls, tears, and a lot of comfort cakes.
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