How I became a TEDx speaker in one year
“Ask yourself who you are when you are at your best, what you’re great at, and situations or environments that make you come alive.” – Danielle Gault
This past weekend, I shared what I have accomplished in the past year on my social media channels. Since the fall of 2012, I have presented 30 keynotes and workshops at conferences, universities, and young professional associations across Canada; hosted 16 video interview shows; reaching 50 posts on my blog with over 12,000 views with the goal of sharing stories and skills to help one another reconnect to what matters; built a collaborative community of over 200 people in the Potentialists tribe; and hosted 20 Dream Circles to help people mutually support one another with ideas, resources, and contacts to achieve our goals.
I share this not to boast, or to count my successes. I share it because of the importance of celebrating the journey, reflecting on how it all came together, and to show my sincere gratitude for everyone who has supported me in the process.
The cherry on the cake is that today I woke up and found out that one of my bigger goals is now going to happen: I received confirmation via email this morning that I will be speaking about the Dream Circle project at a TEDx event later this year.
In this post, I want to share what I did during one defining week in 2012 that really shaped this past year. Back in June of 2012, I spent some time at my favourite café in Toronto, One Hour , thinking about how to make the next year epic. Here are the exact steps in my goal setting process, which I hope in some way helps you in your own:
1. I wrote out what my ideal day would look like – At the time I wrote this, I was coming off of working a dream job with the David Suzuki Foundation, one of Canada’s leading environmental organizations, to help put together their first ever national leadership program. Life was pretty sweet. But doing this exercise of thinking about my ideal day made me realize that my ideal day involved something different. I envisioned myself running a collaborative holistic personal development center near water, being a professional speaker, spending my time around passionate people (who I call Potentialists), living a healthy and active lifestyle, wearing comfortable clothing, and helping people develop skills of connection, communication, and collaboration (things I feel we’re often not taught).
2. Taking a page out of the book Good To Great, and inspired by some wise friends in Vancouver, I applied the hedgehog principle and wrote out what I was “Best At” and “Passionate About”. Literally. Just make two columns, and write this out in a free-flow. Don’t filter your thoughts with the “Buts” or negative “What ifs”.
3. I looked at the “Best At” and the “Passionate About” columns, and thought of possible combinations of items in each to come up with “Ways I could contribute” to the world around me.
Some ideas included getting life coach certification, becoming a spiritual travel writer for holistic wellness and yoga sites around the world, or starting a Patient Support organization to support them through difficult times after my own experience dealing with the isolation of the medical system.
But what excited me most were two things. I realized I could start a video show where I interview awesome speakers because I’m good at connecting with people, hosting interviews, and leading discussions to help people reconnect to what matters. Secondly, I realized that I could be the speaker who builds a community of Potentialists instead of just providing a fee for service, and that I could be the one to create workshops and programs for people to experience, connect, and grow and learn skills of connection, communication, and collaboration.
4. I picked two things I would do in each of the following areas of my life to focus on for the year and wrote them in the present tense as if I have already achieved them
Personal: I meditate every morning for 20 minutes; I write a blog post or host a video show every week.
Health: I reach out to, meet, or connect with one Potentialist every week by phone, skype, or over a meal. I work out at least 4 times a week, and am a certified YMCA yoga teacher by June 2013.
Contribution: I speak at 50 conferences/events by the end of 2013, including a TEDx talk. I host 20 Dream Circles in Toronto and Vancouver, and start to spread this movement by the end of 2013.
5. I broke down each of these big goals into specific actions I would take for each quarter for the year, set milestone goals to reach by the end of each quarter, and began to Experiment. This is probably the most important part of what I achieved, and how I did it. I experimented. I tried things out, learned from the experiences, made tweaks and adjustments along the way, and most importantly, kept moving forward. Taking action, doing what was in my control, and reaching out for support to others along the way is all it took.
Looking back, I realize that a funny thing has happened. The more I have stepped outside my comfort zone, and chased after those “big dreams”, the more willing I am to do so for the other ones that are still on my list of “Ways to Contribute”. It is a self-perpetuating cycle, and it isn’t necessarily the success of achieving the goal that is driving it. For me, it has been following this process of tapping into who I truly am, bringing it out into the world, and treating life as a fresh canvas waiting for me to paint it, that has made this experiment so fun and rewarding.
What experiment in life will you dare to try this next year?
P.S. Look forward to more exciting news about the Potentialists website soon to be launched, and let me know if you know of any speaking events you recommend I speak at this next year. Feel free to email me at email@example.com.