THE SECRETS OF MY SUCCESS
In my final newsletter of 2017 I encouraged you to use the holiday period to rest and reset for the year to come. I hope you took that opportunity and you have started 2018 with optimism, enthusiasm and a sense of purpose.
A wonderful way to reset for the year ahead is to take time to come together with your ‘tribe’ – the people that inspire, motivate, encourage, support and challenge you professionally and personally to be your best self.
One of my professional tribes is Professional Speakers Australia.
Every year in March, Professional Speakers from around Australia and from overseas meet to learn from and be inspired by the best of the best at the annual Professional Speakers National Convention.
Two years ago I presented the opening keynote address at this convention and this year I have been asked to make three presentations over the three-day event. My first presentation will be to aspiring speakers and story tellers. It’s called ‘The Road to CSP’.
CSP stands for Certified Speaking Professional. It is an accreditation that is bestowed on a select few hundred professional speakers around the world and is a reflection of a speaker’s professionalism, excellence and success.
I achieved my CSP status after only three years working as a full time professional speaker, which I understand was somewhat of a record.
The road to CSP is meant to be an informal session where a number of CSPs impart words of advice, lessons learned and messages of inspiration and encouragement to those aspiring to achieve the same status in the speaking world.
In writing a draft of my presentation I realised that the advice and guidance I plan to share with these enthusiastic, hard working and passionate people was equally applicable to those building any business or social enterprise, or aiming to grow their impact and become greater agents for change.
With this in mind I thought I would share some of my messages of advice and my key learnings – not just from my speaking career, but from 46 years of life.
The road to CSP for me was an unusually quick one, having achieved CSP accreditation in record time. After 20 years practising as an international humanitarian lawyer, certain events in my life led me to write and publish my memoir, which quickly became a best seller. It was through the profile that my story gained that I received many requests from around the country and overseas to share my story and the universal messages contained within it. After living a double life of part-time lawyer, part-time speaker for 18 months I realised I had fallen in love with professional speaking, and this was how I wanted to serve others and make an impact for good.
As soon as I made the decision to leave my legal career and focus on my speaking practice things took off exponentially. Within two years I developed an extremely busy, lucrative and incredibly rewarding international speaking business.
Whilst I achieved CSP status quickly, I attribute over 40 years of life lessons, challenges and 20 years of telling other people’s stories for justice as reasons why I was able to hit the ground running and flourish so quickly. Having a unique and powerful story, being authentic, practising gratitude every day and choosing to be fully committed to the service of others are reasons for my success.
The profile and influence that comes from being a professional speaker is a privilege and a great responsibility. Being grateful for this honour came into sharp focus for me late last year when I spoke at a United States conference attended by 4500 front line and community leaders from around the world. Receiving a standing ovation was one of the most affirming, humbling and overwhelming sensations, but most of all, seeing the emotion my messages invoked and hearing that I had motivated the audience to act and commit to certain changes was the ultimate highlight.
I have been asked many times about my failures. I don’t see anything as a failure, but rather examples of life teaching us that things don’t work out in a particular way. Failure as some people call it, is a gift wrapped in strange packaging to me. It is a gift of wisdom and growth waiting to be realised. There is so much that happens to and around us that we can’t control. The best laid plans and intentions often don’t work out the way we hope. But, if we have faith that when we do things for the right reasons in the right way, it all has a way of working out as it’s meant to. Having this perspective can save us a lot of stress and anxiety.
Learning to harness the positive energy from one’s ego, but not to become a slave to it is crucial in this industry, as it is in many industries and professions. Be clear of your intention. Commit to serving others, to adding value, being a force for change and education and you will avoid many of the traps and pitfalls that come from putting yourself at the centre of your business rather than the service of others.
My biggest learning – work out what it is and commit to maintaining your balance. Don’t give everything of yourself to your work and business. Cherish and nurture your personal relationships, the people you love being with and the things you love doing. Stay grounded, nourishing yourself through the people you surround yourself with and the activities you do outside of your work are key.
Finally, choose your professional mentors, teachers and confidantes wisely. Choose to learn from people who inspire you, people who you aspire to be like and those that you connect with on a personal as well as a professional level. Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing and stay away from the inauthentic and unethical. Every industry has them and yours is no different. Your reputation and integrity is everything and once it’s lost it’s very difficult to get it back. Trust and confidence is today’s currency, so guard and protect it fiercely.